Dear teachers,

I've been doing your job for a few weeks now and I've got a few questions I need to ask.

No, the first question is not, "How do you do this every day?" Because when I was involuntarily ripped out of my nice, quiet desk job and thrust into the demanding combination life of a work-from-home, homeschool teacher and mom—I quickly learned there is simply no answer for how you do this every day.

In fact, the only explanation I can come up with is that you are angels sent from heaven to selflessly shape our little one's minds. To say you are God's gift to the world is an understatement.


I will never truly understand how you do this every single day. But perhaps you can help me understand some of the logistics.

You see, this is all a foreign subject to me, the working mom of three who may have sick Excel skills and can run a PowerPoint in her sleep but is not mentally strong enough to spend nine straight hours with children who can't put their shoes on without crying. I didn't sign up for this, I wasn't cut out for this, I simply can't do this.

So, please, teacher—who I've never thanked nearly enough and will forever bring end of the year gifts to—riddle me this…

What do you do when you're sick?

If you have a headache? I'm assuming your answer is that you power through and not that you turn on cartoons until Mama's Excedrin kicks in. Please confirm.

When do you pee?

This is a real question. Do you hold it all day? That can't be good. Are you extremely dehydrated? No, you can't be—I've seen those big jugs of water you carry around. Do you tell the students you'll be back in a jiffy while they sit quietly and work? I tried this at our school. Chaos is what happened. Mass chaos. Why did I take this for granted at my desk job? I didn't have to schedule my pee-breaks. I didn't have to hold it. I didn't worry about if I would make it. Bathroom breaks are now a luxury and a rare one at that.

Do you yell back at the kids when they yell at you?

I sure hope not but, goodness, I wouldn't judge you if you did. These kids are ruthless! They just don't stop. Until you get them outside, of course. Then they are bored. Help me understand, please.

Where do you go to cry?

I assume you cry. I've cried countless times and I've only been doing this for two weeks. I have a bathroom to go to. I have got a closet to hide in. But you don't. Do you let them see you cry? I bet it would scare them. At least it scared my kids when I burst into tears over common core addition. (Also, who changed math and why!? I need to know.)

When do you reply to all your text messages and phone calls?

I don't know what the rules are at school about being on your phone. I've never seen you on yours, so I'm going to assume your screen time per day isn't typically 8 hours and 51 minutes, like mine. I have the luxury of chatting with friends, FaceTiming with family and responding to emails throughout the day, but I know you don't.

When you finally get on your phone at 3:30pm are you bombarded with 97 text messages, 57 GroupMe messages and 132 emails? I'm guessing that's about the time your phone starts to ring from disgruntled parents. That will never be me again, I promise.

These schedules you speak of, do you actually stick to them?

I'm trying, I'm really trying. But the kids mostly want to eat snacks and play. There have been many tantrums. Why don't they care that math started 20 minutes ago and isn't scheduled to end until they turn 23?

Speaking of snacks, you let them eat all day long, right?

Because, here at home, they've sure been acting like that's how it is at school. I truly had no idea kids couldn't read without a bowl of popcorn in their lap. Honest mistake on my part. At school, are they like, "Teacher, I'm hungry. Teacher, when's lunch? Teacher, can I have a snack? Teacher, when's dinner? Teacher! Teacher? TEACHER." Please tell me they don't treat you like this.🙏

Where do you lie down?

I've never seen a couch in your classroom. But I know your feet and back hurt from bending over to help kids all day. Maybe you just snuggle up next to the kids during naptime and share their blankie? I would.

Do you ever want to quit?

Because I do. Every single day the thought crosses my mind. This job is hard—physically, mentally, emotionally. It taxes the strongest of teachers. It challenges the best of parents. And, it makes sitting at my desk, listening to Karen complain about how her orchid won't bloom seem like a vacation.

I've learned a lot so far on this journey of teaching my kiddos. I've learned they like to draw pictures of their classmates. I've learned my first grader likes to read to his little brother. I've learned science is their favorite subject, followed by art and recess. I've learned my preschooler has the voice of an angel and my first grader wants to study planets when he grows up.

I've also learned they are relying on me to get through the day as much as I am relying on them.

Most importantly, I've learned why you do this. I've learned why you get up every morning, commit your entire day to other people's children and selflessly give all your energy to students (and parents) who rarely say thank you. This job, the one I so desperately dreaded when my boss said, "You really have to work from home now," is beautiful. It's exhausting but, my oh my, is it rewarding. It is moving the world forward in ways that we don't even fully understand yet.

So, thank you, teachers.

Thank you for taking my littlest creations and turning them into the intelligent, strong, beautiful individuals they are growing up to be. Thank you for caring for my babies like they are your own. Thank you for creating a better and brighter future for all of us.

And, lastly, do you take whipped cream on your latte? Because I promise—the next one is on me.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."


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