Sometimes being a teacher makes you feel like a really bad mom. At 4:15 this morning, I put my daughter on a bus to Toronto. She is going on an overnight field trip with her 6th grade class. Many of the moms I know from dance, soccer, church and baseball were there with clipboards ready to chaperone the trip.
My daughter was super excited about the trip and I'm excited for her to have this experience. When we arrived at her school, I signed my daughter in, found her chaperone, snapped a picture of her and her friends and kissed her goodbye. On my way out the door one of the moms who knows me said, "Kimberly, aren't you glad you don't have to do another field trip? Teachers probably dread field trips." I said nothing. Isn't that what you are supposed to do when you don't have anything nice to say? I cried on the way home and sat in the dark on my front porch thinking about the truth.
The truth is that I have never been on a field trip for either of my own children. Since I'm a teacher, I've taken hundreds of other children on field trips over the past 17 years. I have only been able to go to 2 class parties for my own children. As teacher, I've hosted several class parties each year for the students and families in my class. My own kids don't ask me anymore if I can come on a field trip or to a special event that is hosted during the day, because I'm a teacher and they know I can't.
Since I am working as an instructional coach this year, I could have gone on this trip. I have more leave days than I'll ever need to use. My boss would certainly let me go since I am not directly responsible for students. So, I volunteered when the chaperone forms came home. I didn't get chosen. The moms who held the clipboards this morning are the same moms who have been the volunteers on my daughter's field trips since Kindergarten.
Sometimes the chaperones send me pictures of my own kids on their field trips. They almost always say something like, "Wish you were here" or "Thought you might like this since you can never come". While I'm grateful for the pictures that I can't take myself, it is still a reminder that being a good teacher sometimes makes me feel like a really bad mom.
My daughter won't know that I was upset on the way home today. When my son wakes up I won't share it with him either. I'll pretend I wasn't crying for an hour on the front porch and I will wait for my pictures. I'll silently be the teacher mom who does not dread field trips with her students (for the record), but that wishes somehow I could enjoy all of these things with my own children too.