Before Homeroom Interviews: Welcome Back to OC, Mrs. Toncini!

Dallas Mercurio '20, Assistant Editor

On Tuesday the 26th, I sat down with Mrs. Toncini, one of OC’s excellent Spanish teachers, to talk to her a bit about her recent maternity leave and reacclimation to Oakland Catholic.

For those who do not know, could you give a little insight into what maternity leave is like?

“Maternity leave is like working two full time jobs at the same time. It’s great because you get to spend time with your baby, and there are so many snuggles and cuddles, and babies are just magical so it’s great bonding time to spend with your child. But you learn exactly what exhaustion feels like, and you wonder how long you can function without sleep, but, as a wise person once told me, when you’re so tired and your whole body hurts and you can’t open your eyes because you’re so tired, when that little baby smiles at you it’s all worth it. It’s hard, but it’s the best thing in the world; kinda like being a parent I would say.”

Favorite memory or story from maternity leave?

“My favorite part of maternity leave was when they would both [Asher and Elisa] be up in the morning, and when the three of us would be doing something together. When the three of us would sit and watch Daniel Tiger or teaching Elisa how to share with her baby brother. She’d say things out loud like ‘Can I have a turn?’ and then she wants to go and snatch the toy but then you’d see her stop.”

How do you feel being back? One pro and One con

“I think the con is obvious, I’m not with them all day and I miss them. And the pro is that I love Oakland Catholic, and love you guys. So it’s nice to be back with all of you. I think that if I didn’t love my job or the students and faculty as much as I do, I don’t know how I’d come to work everyday leaving them. Like this morning Asher was up smiling and laughing at me, and I was thinking, “How am I going to leave you,” but it’s nice having somewhere welcoming and understanding to come to.”

What was one thing you missed the most about OC? What’s one thing you think changed about OC?

“Besides you guys, I missed Judy’s lunches, especially her cookies. As for changes, I don’t know if things have changed or if I just forgot, but I guess the new uniform changes; like seniors can wear whatever shoe they want now.”

Comparing your first maternity leave and now this recent one, are there any differences between the two times?

“The first one was longer, and the second one was shorter. Looking back, I would say the first one seemed like it was much easier, because there was one kid. When I was in it, it didn’t seem easier, because it was just as hard as it is now, and I didn’t know what I was doing. This time I felt like I knew what I was doing, but it was hard to learn how to juggle both kids. Also, before Asher was born, we moved, so this time we had to get both rooms ready for them, when the first time it was just Elisa’s room.”

Do you have any advice you’d like to give about balancing home life and work?

“I’ll take some. *laughs* I don’t know if this is advice but this is what I do: when I’m at school I just try to be at school with you guys, and try to immerse myself into teaching you. And when I’m at home I just try to be at home and immersed in that moment. So I just try to be where I am and just immersed in that moment versus trying to be one place and thinking about or worrying about another.”

Who was your biggest supporter through your journey of motherhood?

“There are so many, but I mean, Mr. Toncini and my mom, of course. They are both excellent supporters when I’m learning how to do things. Mr. Toncini and I are both in the same boat, so we are learning at the same time. My mom’s been in the trenches before, so she can help when I have questions or if I needed a nap during maternity leave.”

What were some preparations you had to do in order to come back to teaching?

“I cried a lot. There were a lot of tears leading up to coming back. There was a lot of self motivational talks I gave myself; that I could do it. And just talking to others that have done it multiple times. And just putting myself in their boat and thought ‘well if other people can do it, I can do it too. I can make it through.’ ”

What is one piece of advice you’d want to give to the students about maternity leave?

“Sleep when you can. Enjoy it when you can. Make sure you incorporate self care. It’s very important to take care of yourself so you can take care of others.”