Let me start by saying that I am SUPER aware of the “Mommy Wars.” Moms with high powered corporate careers who work 18 hours a day/6 days a week vs. Moms who are never ever out of their children’s sight for the first 5 years; Moms who breastfeed their children until they are 7 vs. Moms who never even consider breastfeeding for fear of hyper-sexualizing their cute little babies; Moms who serve only 100% organic food all of the time vs. Moms who grab any substance even remotely called food to feed their children.
I know those examples sound ridiculous, and they are meant to. That’s how I feel about ALL of the “Mommy War” garbage. I don’t think anybody fits into the extremes I mentioned above, and you are never going to catch me judging your decisions about how you raise your children. I threw away my judgy-pants a long time ago! I know we all make decisions based on careful consideration of our options and necessities. So, when I say this post is not intended to fuel the Mommy Wars, I MEAN IT! I am not trying to “Mommy Shame” anyone! I truly believe in my heart that there is no one right way to parent children or live life. We all figure out what works for us, and when we do, I sure hope that we all look for the positives!
I happen to have chosen a career that is quite time and energy consuming for most of the year. I teach middle school Band and Orchestra, teach private violin lessons, and conduct a youth orchestra group. It is always at this time in September, as we are getting slammed back into the crazy school year schedule, and I am crying over the end of summer, that I have to remind myself of the positive aspects of this lifestyle. On the good days I feel so lucky to do something I love that is active and artistic. On the tough days I feel like my own children are not getting the attention they deserve. My children have sat/played through a ton of violin lessons and orchestra rehearsals. Other than the fact that I really do enjoy my work, why do I continue to do as much as I do now that I have small children? Short answer: We like to eat on a daily basis and be able to pay the bills. It really is as simple as that. So, now that I have come to terms with the fact that I must work, I’m finding the positives of this lifestyle!
- My children get to see their parents truly enjoy working.
- I honestly do love teaching music to children and I know my oldest son is aware of it (my younger son can only say “bye” and “uh-oh”, so we’ll have to wait for his opinion on the issue.) Just a few days ago my older son was telling me how he thinks his own work week will go when he is a grown-up. It includes a mix of teaching gym, cello lessons, “regular singing classes”, and driving a garbage truck on the weekends. Half of me was so proud he was thinking about what he would like to do, and the other half of me felt guilty that he thought he needed to fill up every day with work!
- My children (and I) get to develop relationships with lots of other kids and parents.
- A positive to this music teacher lifestyle are the families of my students! My children (yes, both of them) have special relationships with the families of students that I teach. They are a huge part of the village that helps to raise my kids. They are the people I turn to when I need help with my kids, it’s where my babysitting pool comes from, and many of the friends my children have. They are the people I turn to when I need parenting advice, or when I need someone to tell me I’m not crazy!
- My children are definitely flexible.
- Whether I have an extra lesson, or if there is a cancellation and we get to go home earlier than usual, the boys tend to roll with the punches in terms of schedule. (Now this really only works if I have enough snacks with me. If I forget snacks they turn into a cute version of a growling, snarling T-rex.) Sometimes a mom of a student will take my boys back to her house so she can start dinner while I teach her kids, or take them to the park down the street for a change of scenery while I am teaching. It all helps to keep them from developing rigid expectations.
- They are learning to be independent.
- Sometimes there is no one else to play with while I am teaching. Both boys are getting pretty good at entertaining themselves for a while. My older son can find something quiet to do for several sessions of 45 minute lessons (I always make a point to chat with him a bit in between lessons), and even the younger one can make it through one 45 minute lesson happily playing with toys and his brother (I try not to ask a 14 month old to be self-entertained longer than that.)
- My children are developing planning skills.
- Well, really only the older one is developing planning skills at the moment. He knows what day it is and what kind of after school schedule we are going to have. He knows which days to bring an extra toy, which day to make sure he has a book to read or color in, and which days we are most likely going to go straight home. In May, the month of music teacher insanity, he is really good at remembering when he has field trips at school. Thank goodness for that! I would have missed THREE field trip permission slips and extra gear last year if he had not remembered what day things were happening, and knew what supplies he needed for that day! On top of that, he was only in Kindergarten last year! I can already tell he is even better at planning and keeping track of days and dates this year.
- They are learning the relationship between working and money.
- This may seem rather simple, but it is important to me. They see it up close, and personal. The older one is mature enough now that when I catch him saying something like, “just go to the bank and get more money,” I can ask him if money actually comes from the bank or if it comes from the work I do. It is helping him understand better how the economy works, or at least, our microcosm of the economy at home.