Daddy D and I are preparing to celebrate our 4 year anniversary (you’ll remember reading about our engagement in Happily Ever After). Although this February we will have been together for 10 years, the past 4 seem to have been our most trying…and rewarding. Most recently, welcoming Baby A into our family has been a top highlight while learning to navigate as married, working parents has been challenging. Through everything I have a partner and teammate. I sometimes expect too much and other times ask for too little. But, most importantly to me, I am blessed with someone who loves me through my worst and stands proudly beside me at my best.
I’m sure you could tell from the title of this post that today’s share isn’t about these things. Reflecting on them, though, is what brought about my thoughts and sentiments for today. I’m married to a 2nd grade teacher. He is is 6 feet, 6 inches tall and bald. He is always dressed nicely and although he wears glasses, I can assure you that upon first meeting him, “elementary school instructor” would not be your first thought. (In fact, when he tells people that he is a teacher they often assume he is in middle or high school classrooms. He is also regularly asked which sports he coaches and the answer is always “none.”) After spending time with him, however, you would quickly notice a handful of things:
The first being that he is extremely proud to be a teacher. He talks about his students like they are his own children and he often makes statements that start something like, “at school today” or “when class starts.” He will regularly assume that our company just knows and understands what he does for a living. I will sometimes clarify that he teaches because there are situations when others assume he is working through another degree. It takes a special kind of person to teach young children and I always notice that little twinkle of pride when these professionals talk about their day-to-day working lives. They believe in the difference education makes and they take satisfaction in being stewards of this process.
Secondly, he is always, always thinking about his career. Daddy D endlessly considers tactics, tools, and tricks that will enhance his knowledge and teaching ability and our home is covered with magazines, children’s books, and textbooks. He is also cognizant of current trends and constantly assessing the growth of his students while contemplating the things he can do to be better. He attends “out of regular work time” trainings and stays current with his own education and teacher certification. His career demands the true essence of being a lifelong learner and this process is never ending.
Third, our teachers earn their summer breaks. My husband is often out the door well before 7AM and he usually meets me at home around 5PM. His days don’t include breaks or a “lunch hour” because he uses time without students to accomplish non-teaching tasks like returning messages from parents or administrators, attending meetings, preparing for the next lesson, or other class management tasks. (It takes a great deal to manage 18 individuals on an almost constant basis. Many supervisors don’t even have that level of responsibility.) He is not only engaged all day with his students, he also has papers to grade and data to enter in different systems. This means that work comes home at night and over the weekends, as well. Many of our educators put in these long hours while taking additional classes, conducting research, writing papers, or studying for exams of their own to further their education.
Fourth, his students are his other set of children. He is constantly considering their health and wellbeing. He is deeply affected when his kids struggle and most proud when they reach their goals. We have considered fostering his students before and some of their situations have caused him to cry. He shares in their despair and celebrates their accomplishments. He gives more than he ever expected he would and there is something raw and refreshing for him in working with elementary aged children. He simply loves them and accepts all of the things that come with investing in the unknown of other human beings.
Fifth, his career takes a physical toll. Daddy D spends 80% of his work day standing, moving (himself or items), squatting, walking or running. He is not only emotionally exhausted at the end of his work day but also physically tired. I like to compare it to a daylong, low intensity workout in dress shoes. Just like any working parent, after he sends his students home to their families, he starts over again with ours. This means more running and chasing because we are currently raising a toddler together.
There are many back to school videos that are trending right now because parents are thrilled to send their kiddos back to the classroom. Any of you who stay home with your kids know how our beautiful children can take a toll on our own well being at times and physically wear us out. Many of our teachers have been home all summer with their own families which means they will be returning from their second jobs to help share in ours.
Baby Got Class
Finally, our household budget includes a snack line item for Daddy D’s “other kiddos.” When creating his fiscal plan, he also gives careful consideration to the things he will need to personally purchase to make his classroom the right learning environment each year. He is also required to keep up with certain certifications and memberships which he pays for. I’m in no way complaining about the beautiful and comfortable life we live but I will tell you that teachers aren’t paid enough. After calculating their hourly rate when considering their long hours and then deducting all of the things they pay for out of pocket, there are a lot of jobs and careers where these professionals could make much higher wages. The most amazing part about this is that I have personally never had a conversation where a teacher complained about their salary. In other career fields people would be in a huff but our teachers just accept that they are making a financial investment from the moment they sign up.
THANKS TO ALL OF OUR TEACHERS OUT THERE!
I am obviously partial to my husband and proud of him. There are very few things that could convince me that he is anything less than amazing. But, here is the truth, most teachers are just like him and they share in the above mentioned attributes. There are few careers that require such specialized skills with such high demands in a less than perfect system. We expect so much from our educators and often forget the dedication and investment it takes to be one.
So, please be kind to those who teach our children. They are helping us raise and educate future generations. If you can, assist in making their “Welcome Back!” week look and feel the way you’d want yours to be. Give them support where you are able and if nothing else, send a note of thanks when they deserve it.
Lastly, “Hi, Daddy D! Welcome Back!” I know we are in for another great school year…and another wonderful year of marriage. “Cheers” to my biggest fan and “Happy Anniversary,” love of my life. Lucky for me, you are the same person and I admire, adore, and cherish you!