A Mommy Wonders If There's a Daddy Track Does Honor at Work Have to Mean No Dinner at Home?

Article excerpt

My husband was notified he is one of three California finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Elementary Mathematics. Our four daughters and I were planning to honor him with the Red Plate - "You Are Special Today." But that was if he had been home for dinner. The price of having an award-winning husband and father is that, frankly, we don't see him much.

One would assume that, as a teacher, he would have plenty of time for the family. After all, his children go to his school, and his commute takes all of 10 minutes. Teachers' hours look good on paper - 10 months of work for 12 paychecks, paid holidays, in class from 8 to 3 - but in the flesh more is involved. Every teacher puts in countless hours of planning, grading, conferencing, creating the classroom environment, evaluating, and soul-searching. That is normal. The everyday, unsung hero- of-a-teacher doesn't get nominated for this award. This award goes to the overachievers.

My husband, besides working on his master's degree at night, is the district's math mentor teacher. He is responsible not only for his own class but for keeping all the elementary teachers in the district current on new methods, innovations, and frameworks. He presents workshops, attends conferences, joins in seminars, and belongs to every math organization in the state. He loves this stuff Don't get me wrong - he loves this stuff. He is hooked into a math network on the computer, and they actually gossip in math-speak. He never minds when a student calls (usually while the soup is hot) to question or discuss a solution to a problem. That's why he gives them his phone number. He enjoys the barrage of his work. To him it is all a gift. And yet I see the hurt twisting his face when the baby won't kiss him goodbye as he is leaving for another conference, because she has deduced in her own mathematical logic that, if she doesn't kiss him, he cannot go. The father in him just wants to stay home and frolic. When he has to choose between his daughter's birthday party and a fraction presentation, or a piano recital and a graduate lecture, he wears his guilt like a scarlet letter. But the professional obligation always gets the nod. If he misses these commitments, he will not be taken seriously, he will be branded undependable, he will be out of the loop. The family events, by nature, will come around again. He will catch the next recital; he will be the popcorn-meister at the next sleepover. The first snow will be cajoled and adorned into the first snowman again next year. …

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