In my former life I was a teacher. I taught for 8 years. Four years at the elementary level and four years at the middle school level. Very fulfilling years. But no matter what, I always had back to school dreams. After my son was born, they became nightmares. I think it had to do with the anxiety of leaving him home and not being able to spend time with him. When I worked, I worked. There were many 11-hour days in a school building before I was able to make it home to the little man. Which is one of the many reasons I decided to try my hand at staying home full-time.
The first two school years of staying at home, I still had back to school dreams. They varied. Some of them dealt with my anxiety of not working or losing a part of my identity. Some of them dealt with being back in the rhythm of being in the classroom and loving the routine of it.
I had another one recently. In this one, my house was filled with teachers. Not just former colleagues, but good friends of mine that are teachers. It was morning, they were getting ready for their first preservice days at their respective schools. They were giddy and excited and talking about what was to come. Me? I looked at them and said, "HA! At least I get to sleep in :)"(Really, sleeping in just means that I sleep until about 7am, but it's still sleeping in for me!).
There was absolutely no regret about not going back to work. For the first two years of my childcare leave, I still thought about my year in terms of the school year. I'm finally joining the rest of society and looking at our time in calendar years. At the beginning of every school year I still pray for my friends that are working. I pray for a good school year for them and for their students.
But I think the tide is changing and I no longer hear the school bell ringing for me :)