Interview with Working Mother Barb Szyszkiewicz

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us. Today we’re interviewing Franciscan Mom Barb Szyszkiewicz!


What’s your name?

Barb Szyszkiewicz. You pronounce it just like it’s spelled.Displaying barb at conshy bakery.jpg

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

My husband and I have been married 24 years. We have 3 children, ages 12, 19 and 23 (one in middle school, one in college and one working and living on his own).


Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

I just finished a long-term substitute job at my younger son’s Catholic school. I taught second grade for two months. Now I’m back to subbing on an as-needed basis.

[Erin here.  In addition to this work, Barb also blogs about being a Franciscan Mom, about cooking, especially cooking for a Type 1 Diabetic, aaaand contributes to Catholic Mom, Real Housekeeping, and Dynamic Women of Faith.]

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

Substitute-teaching definitely stretches me in a number of ways. It requires what I think of as “tap-dancing skills”–the ability to think on your feet ALL THE TIME. I’m following someone else’s lesson plan, carrying out someone else’s routines, working in someone else’s space. Improv is not my strong suit, but I’ve gotten better at it. I have observed that my parenting experience has made me a better teacher. I’m still not sure what God has made me to be–He has surprised me in many ways where that’s concerned. With this job, He’s working on my flexibility.
What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

One thing that surprised me was that my seventh-grader seemed to really love having me at his school all day, every day. He would stop by my classroom and visit with the kids, or leave them notes on the board in the morning before homeroom. Because of my son’s illness (he’s Type 1 diabetic), my husband also loves that I’m at school. It’s an extra level of security for my husband, who works 50 miles away, to know that I’m in the same building. Right now, I only work at my son’s school, and the administration has been wonderfully accommodating of his needs.
How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

I don’t have an expert answer on that. I had to let a lot of things go this fall when I was working full time. I hadn’t worked full time since before my oldest was born! My husband wouldn’t care if I gave up on cooking, but that’s something I enjoy. I managed to (mostly) stay caught up on the laundry and the cooking. The other housework, not so much. The hardest thing for me was that teachers are never finished when they clock out at 3:30. There is still so much to do, and it was always in the back of my head. It was hard to turn that off so I could attend to the needs of my family. This is less of an issue when I’m subbing on a drop-in basis, because I actually AM done at the end of the day in that situation.

What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

Help around the house–without being asked/told/threatened.


Thank you, Barb!  

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”  


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