In gratitude for friends who tell it like it is…

For those who know me well, know that I have agonised long and hard about returning to full time work in 2015. In fact, reading a number of blog posts by teachers also on maternity leave, contemplating how they are going to balance work and family life, resonated quite strongly with me. For starters, I resigned an executive position that I enjoyed, at a school that I loved, so that I wouldn’t have to sacrifice either work or home life. Following that decision, I was going to return to that school as a full time English teacher. I have held a leadership role in schools for the last 7 years, so returning to a full time teaching role was going to create some new challenges for me, but I felt that it would be better for creating a work/life balance, because ultimately, I could do a lot of prep and marking while my baby was sleeping.
No sooner had I made this decision that I had begun feeling rather anxious about leaving my baby. Would he cope being away from me, day after day? Would he thrive in a childcare environment? Would they attend to his needs? Would be be cuddled if he was sad? Such questions had never entered my thoughts prior to having a baby. In fact, prior to having a baby I was quite confidently telling everyone that I would be returning to my executive role and everything will be business as usual. I was affronted that a number of people were just as confidently telling me that I wouldn’t want to do the role once my baby was born. In fact, I never thought I would be one of those people, the person who would easily give up a great position, something I had worked so hard to achieve, so quickly.
It’s amazing how very quickly your priorities change once you have children. As cliched as it sounds, it is so very true. I had no idea. No idea. No. Idea.
I was contemplating just one more year of leave. Just one more year with my baby boy. I was determined that one more year would allow me more of an opportunity to prepare him for the world. It would allow me greater opportunities to share his milestones. I rationalised that he would be just that little less vulnerable. I then began to think that giving up a full time job and working casual until he was at school was probably a better decision. In the space of a night, I had all but said goodbye to a career that I loved and had worked so hard to develop.
It was then that I had a conversation with a friend that changed it all.
In her way, her honest and forthright manner, proceeded to tell me a number of home truths, not least of which, that not returning to work was not a good idea. Ultimately my baby will grow and have his own life and forge his own identity. Where will I be then? She reminded me that I had worked long and hard to get to where I was and that I could offer my baby a lot by being an example to him. I must admit I was a bit taken aback. After all, I loved being at home with my baby. I loved spending all this time with him. Nobody knew him better than me and therefore there was no way that anyone else could meet his needs. As I began to listen to my arguments I realised she was right. She was right. As much as I love staying at home with my baby, there will come a time when he will go to preschool and then school. How will I fill my days? More fundamental was my self efficacy and identity as a teacher. I love teaching and would miss it terribly. It was that conversation, back in about June that made me realise that I needed to return to work for my family. I have been successful in finding a middle management role closer to home. I am looking forward to being an English Coordinator again.
I share this post in the hope that other new mothers who are probably struggling with similar thoughts and emotions, realise they aren’t alone. I think my friend really helped me. In telling it like it is, she enabled me to see that if I had decided not to return to full time work, I probably wouldn’t return at all. It doesn’t make me selfish in any way. In fact I will be able to provide richer experiences for my baby. The opportunity for him to develop his interests and skills at day care will be exciting.
So, Mosh, thank you. As a working mother you are a source of strength and inspiration. You always have been to me, but this is a newfound respect and admiration for helping me to snap out of my bubble. You’re right and I thank you.

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About acoure

English Coordinator and English teacher in Sydney. Believes in the power of education. Passionate about pedagogy, how students learn, curriculum design and learning spaces. I am keenly interested in finding out more about how teachers have adapted their pedagogy in a 1:1 environment. I am also eternally grateful for the inspirational educators I worked with in my formative years of teaching. They opened my eyes to the power of what a deep understanding of pedagogy can do to enhance the learning opportunities for students.
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