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I used to be a teacher.

You know, the staying up late, working on lesson plans, drafting the assignments for the students, working on presentations, thinking up possible questions they may pose, coming up with answers- all of it. As tiring and exhausting as it was, here’s the truth.

I loved it. And I gave it all up in a heartbeat.

That fact never really registered in my head until this week, on September 5th, Teacher’s Day. Ten years ago, I gave up a job which involved my  getting up at the crack of dawn, draping  a saree which would stand stiff and firm at the crease, swinging a bag in one hand and my scooter keys in another and zipping away at 5.30 a.m to a classroom full of eager students.

Classroom via Shutterstock

Each of them came to that class, fighting their sleep in the pursuit of a larger dream- to get into a Management institute of their choice. As I stood there, helping them navigate the tricky seas of Academic English, group discussion strategies, how to make presentations and perfect their grammar, a part of me felt more alive than anything else in the world.

In November of 2005, I made a decision to give up the job I loved most in the world, in preparation for a job where I had zero experience. There wasn’t too much sighing or sobbing, to be honest, because I didn’t know what exactly it was that I was getting myself into, with this thing called motherhood.

Some people would call it a sacrifice. I’m not too fond of that word, because it seems like I was forced to give up something I loved for something else that I didn’t want. The truth is, I made a choice and it was the right one for me.

Life as a teacher was incredible, so much, that a short post here on the blog probably wouldn’t do justice to any of those lessons. But it taught me some important things in preparation for my role as a mother.

[bctt tweet=”Teaching would impart lessons that I’d use as a mother. #Parenting” username=”shyvish”]

I’d not know all the answers to all the questions, but that’s completely fine.

I’d have to be open to the ideas of another person, even if he/she was years younger than me.

I’d have to survive on the bare minimum amount of sleep on many nights.

I’d never be completely sure of what I was doing and  my actions would affect the people around me all the time.

But the deeper lessons I learnt were ones that have stayed in the core of my being.

I’d learn to be non-judgmental in my interactions with another human being.

I’d observe, listen, reason out and help them during an argument.

I’d learn to fall in love with my job, despite the challenges and sometimes, because of them.

I did go back to teaching, briefly, when Gy turned 3 and was in daycare for half the workday. Yet again, that thrill of facing students, watching them soak up knowledge, while I , in turn, fed off their energy is still an image that gives me goosebumps.

There are days when I want it all dearly. The stillness of the household, on all my workdays when the spouse has left for work and the kid has left for school, can be rather unsettling at times. A part of me craves for adult human interaction and the sparkling, vibrant air of a classroom. That mingling of chalkboard dust and excited murmurs is guaranteed to bring a smile to my face.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it.

But, somewhere, I know that I am as happy being a work-from-home mom today as I would be if I were a teacher, facing young minds on the cusp of knowledge. I’d love to go back to teaching and perhaps, this time, my lessons learnt on the parenting journey will directly influence the way I teach.

There’s something to be said for viewing the glass as being not half empty or half full, but just right. If it weren’t for Gy, this blog wouldn’t exist, I wouldn’t have the job I have today, I wouldn’t have ever shared my struggle with mental illness or made the friends that I have the great fortune to call my best allies.

So, the next time you are faced with a decision that could potentially change your life, close your eyes, trust your gut and take that leap of faith. In every step, there is a lesson that awaits. Our growth depends on how well we learn from each lesson and move forward.


*Images Courtesy: Teacher’s Table  and Classroom via Shutterstock

Shailaja V

Hi there! I'm Shailaja Vishwanath, a blogger with 12 years of blogging experience and a parent to a teen. I work as a digital marketing and social media consultant. From positive parenting tips to useful productivity hacks, social media advice to blogging advice, you'll find them all right here. Welcome to my blog.


Rachna Parmar · September 11, 2016 at 7:14 am

I taught for a year in a school and completely loved the experience. Every parent is a child’s first teacher, and it’s a job with a lot of responsibility. I guess patience and an ability to be open and encouraging are the hallmarks of a good teacher.

    Shailaja · September 12, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    You’re absolutely right. I loved teaching and those are precisely what helped me- patience and being open. Without those, I couldn’t have bonded with my students the way I did. I can picture you as a teacher. So well 🙂

Mithila Menezes @fabulus1710 · September 11, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Being open to new ideas is certainly a skill that must be learned by everyone. Teachers must know each and every life lesson with such indepth knowledge and experience, so that the lives of their students can be enriched likewise.
And teaching students who aspire to be future managers is no easy task!
It’s really a noble profession to be in!
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    Shailaja · September 12, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    Thank you, Mithila. I had some of the best young minds, full of promise that I enjoyed my job thoroughly.

Shalini R · September 11, 2016 at 1:45 pm

My husband loves to teach and I think I am someone who simply cannot teach. I do not have the patience and skill 🙂 I hope you go back to teaching someday. Its hard to find good teachers.
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    Shailaja · September 12, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    My dad was my greatest inspiration as a trainer and teacher. I’d love the way he’d hold a crowd with his soft voice and firm ideas. Somewhere I think I absorbed it.

    Thanks Shalini 🙂

Ramya Abhinand · September 12, 2016 at 10:19 am

I understand your passion for teaching.. and I am sure how much you must be missing it, being back there facing a bunch of eager learners. And as you say, its about a glass being half full or half empty. Its the way you look at it right? You still are doing something you are passionate about, weaving magic with words, with English, a subject you like the most!!!!

    Shailaja · September 12, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    How true, Ramya! I am doing that, aren’t I? I simply love the language and could write every single day (and I do mostly) if allowed. Sigh, no regrets here. None whatsoever 🙂

Nabanita Dhar · September 12, 2016 at 10:46 am

I’m still learning, Shailaja. I don’t have any experience in teaching and honestly, I don’t have the patience. I couldn’t even sit and teach my sister. I just couldn’t. But I guess, I’ll need to learn all these as M grows and I take care of her…

    Shailaja · September 12, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    You’d be surprised at the things motherhood can teach you, Naba 🙂 I’m sure you’re already teaching M a lot of things both through your words and your actions 🙂

Parul Thakur · September 12, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Loved your post, Shailaja. My parents are teachers so I know what you mean about preparations and yet being able to accept that teachers cannot have answers to all questions. I believe that all experiences in life teach us many things. Mostly about how to do things from a different perspective. So I am with you there. You are learning from your WFH career too and that will add to more life experiences.

On a lighter note, I will send this post to my Mum and tell her – ‘See! Only if you are a teacher, you can be a mother and I am not a teacher’ 😉 😀
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    Shailaja · September 12, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Ha ha, Parul. I never said that 😉

    They can each help the other profession but one is not a cause for the other 😀

    How lovely that both your parents are teachers!

Geets · September 13, 2016 at 5:56 pm

I never thought I’d be a teacher. When I was a child I wanted to be one, only because all the children in the class loved our class teacher and they brought flowers and gifts for her on Teachers Day :P. Don’t judge me, I was a child then.

Later in school, I had a command in a subject that led my classmates come to me for their queries and often complimented me on my explanatory skills. But that was different. As years passed by, I somehow walked onto this path. It’s not been a long time, but 2 years since I’m teaching and I cannot be more happy about it.

Meeting my students every day and seeing their faces with content after my class is therapeutic! The feeling is beyond words to explain how as a teacher it helped me pick myself up from where I was, how I used to be and it sure helped me let go of so many things which I wasn’t just ready to leave behind. And yet I did, for good!

Teaching is one of the noblest professions I feel and I could completely resonate with your thoughts Shailaja! Loved the post.

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Aditi Kaushiva · September 15, 2016 at 12:39 am

My Mom has been a teacher for 40 odd years now and even with all the changing environment at school, the getting up early, lesson plans, presentations etc she is adapting and still going strong. She taught me as well, for two years and it is true the way she brought up her two girls was influenced by teaching and vice versa.
Lovely post! 🙂
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Obsessivemom · September 16, 2016 at 7:44 pm

I did try teaching too for a bit before I realised it wasn’t for me. But I do miss the buzz of working in an office. That bit you said about interaction with other adults in a professional capacity – I miss that. But I hate the word ‘sacrifice’ too because most days I love being home and just as I had some bad days at work I have some bad days at home and that is that.
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Sid · September 17, 2016 at 11:27 pm

First things first – I’d be an awful teacher.
Like you said Shailaja, often there are transferrable skills that we pick up doing things or jobs we like and then we find their application elsewhere too. Not that I suggest we treat writing or parenting like teaching.

Overall, be proud that you did well and you trusted your instinct. You did good!
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Eli · September 18, 2016 at 2:23 am

Oh, yes, dear Shailaja, close your eyes, and follow your gut feeling…. That has worked for me… And you know- the amazing thing about life: as long as we are alive- we can always change direction, adjust, change course, do something else… so whenever you feel the urge – go for it, my sweet friend – and it will be right for you. Sending you a lot of love XXXXX
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