Yesterday my wife returned to the classroom as a kindergarten teacher after spending the last ten years at home with the kids.
She worked part-time as a reading tutor between the births of Clara and Charlie, and she had a very brief stint as a teaching assistant last year, but this marks the first time she has returned to her role as a classroom teacher.
As lovely as it must have been to stay at home with the kids for all these years, Elysha’s place has always been in the classroom.
Elysha and I met while teaching in the school where I still teach. When I first saw her, I thought that she was beautiful, funny, smart, and utterly unattainable. She was like one of the cool kids - the coolest of the cool kids - and I was… me.
Our first real conversation took place about three weeks into the school year while walking around a lake at a YMCA camp with her students.
It took about a year for us to become good friends and another six months for us to begin dating.
Six months after that, we were engaged, and two years after that, Clara was born and Elysha left the classroom and became a stay-at-home parent.
When we were teaching together, our classrooms were less than 20 feet apart. As I walk by her old room each day, I am both reminded of that glorious time in our lives when we were first falling in love and saddened that I can’t simply walk up the hall and see her every day as I once could.
I have friends who would never dream of working alongside their spouses, but I am not one of those people. Teaching with Elysha was one of the best times of my life.
There were many reasons why I fell in love with Elysha, but one of them was the way she did her job. Elysha is an incredibly talented and skilled teacher who children respect and adore, and the way she partners with parents is second to none. She was born to be a teacher, and the impact that she has made on the lives of children is immeasurable.
Her dream was to return to teaching in a kindergarten classroom, and her goal was to teach in one of three schools in my school district.
She managed to achieve both, of course. A kindergarten position in one of her dream schools. Those kids and parents are so lucky. After almost a decade, Elysha is back doing what she does best.
As happy as Elysha feels about her new position, returning to the workforce after being at home for so long is a big change for all of us. That said, I am incredibly proud of the way we managed to find a way to allow Elysha to stay at home with the kids for so long.
We never really thought it would be possible, and it certainly wasn’t easy.
It was a combination of incredibly hard work, the good fortune to find publishers for my books at just the right times, and the timely launching of Speak Up, which has led me to teaching, speaking, and consulting work that has helped to keep us afloat.
Lots and lots of hard work. Also sacrifice. So much sacrifice.
It’s meant furnishing our home with hand-me-down and second-hand furniture. It’s meant staring at windows in need of replacement, floors in need of repair, and walls in need of paint and saying, “Someday…”
This meant driving cars into the ground, forgoing vacations, and finding happiness with less.
That last one was easy. It turns out that you don’t need much when you have the perfect spouse and two little kids.
The hard work and sacrifice have all been well worth it. Our kids are only little for so long, and I am so proud of the way we managed to take advantage of that precious time. Clara and Charlie will always remember their time at home with Mommy, and I know that it has helped them become the wonderful little people who they are today
My only wish is that I could’ve been home with them for all these years, too.
Elysha came home yesterday from her first day at school filled with stories about her first day. She was smiling and happy.
I am quite certain that her kindergarten students felt exactly the same way.