Breaking the News of Your Pregnancy to Your Principal
The test came back positive and you have relished in the news of your pregnancy when suddenly you are overwhelmed by the planning and preparation that comes with having a baby. Which car seat is the safest? Is it possible to find reasonably priced childcare? Will I ever sleep again? Names, names! How will we ever agree on a name? And then, there is the looming question that keeps you up at night: How will I tell my principal? If you are like me, you will spend countless hours wrestling over the best way to break the big news. Many young women make a mountain out of this confrontation when principals are not nearly as surprised as we think they will be. School staffs are filled with women in their 20’s or 30’s who have many people wondering just when they will start a family. The news of your pregnancy is often more a matter of time than a complete surprise. With that said, it doesn’t make the walk into the principal’s office any easier!
I think the most important thing is to wait until you are ready. The timing of your pregnancy, maternity leave, or resignation will never be right in the eyes of your principal. Further, your pregnancy is not the business of anyone other than your family until you are ready to share it. There is no rule that says 12 weeks is the magic number. If you want to wait longer, do it. If you want to get if off of your chest sooner (and explain why you have been spending so much time in the bathroom and nearly falling asleep in front of your class), then go for it. It is also not necessary for you to disclose your post-pregnancy plans immediately. For a number of reasons, some women know whether they want or need to continue working. However, many women struggle with this decision. I spent an inordinate amount of time talking to my family and friends, making pro and con lists, and staring at the ceiling during my sleepless nights of pregnancy. Determining what is best for you, your child, and your family is a difficult task and should not be rushed.
You must also remember that your principal is running a school. When I told my principal, she expressed genuine excitement for about 30 seconds, and then asked me to start thinking of who would take over my responsibilities in my absence. At first I was offended because I expected her to “ooh” and “ahh” over my growing baby. I soon realized that this news was only a matter of time (as explained before) and she was ready to move ahead and plan for the baby’s arrival just as I was doing at home.
Women in the workplace who decide to become mothers face difficult decisions that inevitably come with guilt, worry, and regret. We often forget the importance of putting our personal well-being first. A wise colleague taught me that my classroom would function without me. Children will learn, duties will be covered, and paperwork will get done. When you can accept this reality, confronting your principal with the big news becomes much easier. All in all, what helped me most was to think of the wonderful miracle growing inside of me. There is nothing more important than that.