I’ve mentioned that I grew up a Military Brat, and before finally settling in Decatur my eighth grade year, I’d attended six different schools. Six times of being introduced to the class as “the new girl…let’s make her feel welcome.” Six times of walking into an unknown, hoping for a friendly face to show me the ropes. Every single time, I hated it. HATED it. I’m not one for being center-stage, and the whispers around the room as my name was read echoed in my ears like bass drums. I was the quiet kid, the studious kid, and the kid that usually hung back with one or two others trying desperately to blend into the background.
But, there was a Greater Plan. Those forced experiences prepared me for many, many unknowns that I would face throughout my little life journey. I’ll probably touch on that occasionally, maybe causing you to roll your eyes or giggle at my Ideology, but it’s true. If I had to pick a theme of my life up to this point, it’s been “being the new girl.” Without that, I just wouldn’t be me.
Today was no different. Today was my first day back at work in six years. Yep, six years. After graduating Texas A&M, I taught five years, and then spent the last six years at home. During those years, I tried to stay up-to-date. I tutored a little, substituted here and there, kept in touch with my teacher friends now and then, but nothing like the daily grind. When I signed my contract this summer, it felt like I was starting from scratch.
Last night, I barely slept. I set my alarm for 6, but watched the hours tick by. I kept thinking of new to-do lists, lesson plans, faculty meetings, evaluations, and balance. I kept thinking of those awkward introductions and hoping the words “let’s make her feel welcome” would not be part of the process. I kept wondering if everyone would see through me, sense my nervousness, and know my insecurity. I was afraid they would see me as just a Mom.
I know, I just said it. The phrase no one will admit to using, but has. Don’t try to deny it. Whether you were talking about your own grandmother or the neighbor down the street, I’ll bet you $1 you have uttered those words at some point in your lifetime. I’ve even used it to describe myself. I tried to ramp it up, throwing in Domestic Goddess when I could, but in the end there’s just no right phrase to describe being just a mom. During the past six years, on any form needing “work information,” I would fill in N/A. Now, there’s a confidence booster. It’s awkward; it’s stifling, and it’s unfair. But that’s the stereotype. And that’s what we need to work on, because being a Just a Mom is important to Every Mom.
As I sat through my First Day AGAIN, I settled back into my role of being the quiet one. I sought out a few friendly faces, and tried to find my familiar place in the background. As I did, I looked into the face of a fellow new teacher worried about how to catch up with “this new technology.” I asked what district she came from, and with eager eyes she looked at me and said “I’ve just been a mom the last 8 years.” I smiled and said, “Just a Mom? You’ll be just fine.”
And I hoped I would be too.