New Year, New job and the Glass-Uterus Effect

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Tomorrow is my first day at a new school. Since arriving in Queensland 6 years ago I have been extremely lucky to have remained employed at the same wonderful school, conveniently located ten minutes from home. I remember my first day six years ago. Having just moved from a really tough school in the dry, northern suburbs of Adelaide I arrived at what looked like a tropical holiday resort. With a golf club across the road, the Surfers Paradise skyline in the background and a lake right in the middle of the school oval.  I remembered thinking, ‘we’re definitely not in Elizabeth’ any more, closely followed up with ‘I probably won’t need to worry about my car being stolen while it’s parked out there’.

During my time there I have welcomed my two beautiful boys, and to be honest it has become more of a social outing than a job. Amongst the staff are teachers who have become great friends, and in some instances I have taught all siblings from the same family. For a school that was only ever meant to be a temporary stop gap while we figured out if we wanted to stay on the Gold Coast, It turns out to be the longest stint I have had in any one setting. My second home.

I am so sad to leave, but so excited to move forward. After a lot of thought my decision was confirmed last week while watching my friends prepare to go back to the classroom full time. At my school it was full time for me or nothing. That is the problem with teaching, it is often all in or nothing.

After applying for jobs close to home and being honest about my plans to have more children, I was met with ‘In light of what we discussed, there won’t be any suitable positions for next year’ and I totally get it. Being that I am on contract, I am a liability in a classroom. Having a class is like taking guardianship of 30 little lives for a the whole year- not just for two or three terms until I dare decide to have a child in the middle of a school year. Before I  hear gasps of ‘discrimination’ it is so not like that. If you are permanent then you have a rite of return as a part time teacher. As a contract staff member I was lucky to have been looked after as long as I have been between having my children. To be fair, If it hadn’t been for stopping to have babies I would have had a permanent position here in Queensland as well as in Adelaide. They call it the glass ceiling effect- a woman’s inability to progress as far as a male in the same work place, and it is alive and kicking in the teaching profession. I just call it the ‘glass uterus effect’. Our progression is severely affected by our biological requirement to stop and have children, and lets face it, that is just tough shit! You can’t have years off and expect to be the boss when you get back!

So I’ve gone further a field for a 3 day classroom position (job share), and I couldn’t be more excited. Rather than dreading the return to full time work and leaving the boys, I can have my class…and eat it too (oops…cake).  Yes it is half hour away, and yes it’s not as pretty as where I was, but it is the best option for my young family at this moment in our short time together.

Teachers out there will appreciate the lack of ownership and achievement you feel when you don’t have your own class. We didn’t get into this profession to teach 12 lessons of back to back library lessons for prep children. On most days this involves getting them safely to the library without losing one or all of them as they cross the yard like a flock of sheep, sending at least three with sore fingers to the sick bay, a poo in the pants, having my feet rubbed (not so bad) and at least 3 comments about why I’m wearing the same clothes as last week.   (FYI you kids are just seeing me at the start of my washing cycle)

So tomorrow I meet my teaching partner and see what will be my new ‘home’ for a while. For some strange reason, what would have made me sick with anxiety once upon a time, is now so exciting! Maybe it’s called growing up.

Wish me luck 🙂

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Why Rooms Get Smaller and Heroes Must Fade Away

 

 

Last week at school was our Sports Carnival. It is always a fantastic day for the children and for the staff. It is one of those days when the barriers between students and teachers dissolve, it becomes house team against house team and for a small moment in time we are our student’s peers. Our Academically weak shine on the sports field, and for that one  day of the year they become ‘Top Of The Class’. It is also a day that proud mums and dads line the sidelines to catch a glimpse of their son or daughter, most taking time off from a busy day at work, to support their little person as they run what seems like the longest race in the world. 

One older sibling had come to support his brother, after having left primary school several years ago he as enjoying his trip down memory lane. He approached us teachers in the tents for a chat and a catch up. One thing he said has remained in my thoughts every day since we spoke.

 ‘I remember my last sports day here, but the oval seemed so much bigger than it is today’. Of course in reality the oval had never changed, but the young boy who once ran here had turned into a man. His body had matured, his perceptions had changed and his ‘present’ had become reflective of his current circumstance, he was now an adult.

It got me to thinking about how as children we must experience growth and change in order for us to move forward as well adjusted adults and with this change, comes an acceptance of adult truth.  Yeah sure it was warm there, it was safe there in our minds while looking at aspects of our life through a child- like lens, but this lens is not reality, it is not what is ‘real’. We protect our children from the evils around us by allowing them to use this ‘lens’, because without it, people are just a bunch of pretty shit adults who practice little of what they preach, and for at least 18 years we want to help shield them from the truth. The Tooth Fairy, Santa, fake phone calls to the police when you try and con your son into owning up to a petty theft,  it is all part of this rite of passage.

I look back on my childhood and how lucky I was to have many heroes in my life. As a little girl I remember looking to these people as the light on my garden path, I looked to them for truths and in the most part modelled my own adolescent morality on what I was ‘taught’ was the right way to think and believe. At the time, through my ‘lens’ they were one hundred percent an authority on life and living. Sadly, as age and maturity would have it, with each birthday I clocked, a little more of the lens became cloudy. Each year a little more hurt, a little more let down, a little more tired of waiting, a little more ‘used’. The invisible cloaks that those close had held up to protect us slowly but steadily fell to the floor, what we thought were our foundations had become complete bullshit and replaced with not so nice things and not so nice people. There will always be those in our childhoods who claim high morality,  who are quick to condemn those not living up to the high standard they are faking for themselves, but soon enough  ‘reality’  has to step out of the shadows. Rooms become darker, days become longer, school ovals became smaller and heroes must fade away to nothing. 

There are of course those who for whatever reason choose to stay living as ‘children’ and ignore this passage of truth. Blaming others as a child would, feeling a sense of entitlement, manipulating loved ones around them as a child would,  throwing their toys from the pram as a child does and making choices with no regard for consequences- as a child does. For these people you can only hope that in their lucid hours, they can still remember what is real, what is the truth, for it is only when we are truly alone that we are left with what is ‘truly’ right. You can lie to others, but you can never successfully lie to yourself.  Maybe in those hours when the consequences of the ‘victim’ mentality’ are the loudest thoughts in their minds, they can see that it is actually an impossibility in life – that on every occasion it was always  someone else’s fault, maybe just one or twice being ‘right’ should have come second….and yet because of all of this they choose not to see that they are still loved, because it easier this way. 

If you are lucky, losing this childhood perception is hopefully your first real encounter with grief. Once you learn to accept that it isn’t really ‘anything you have really lost’ but more ‘what never really was’ you can move forward and try be the best adult and parent you can be.

To my dear boys, whilst I can never promise to keep you from the truth, I can always promise you this:

As a mum now I know that it should never be my child’s job to carry and protect me, but always my job to carry and protect my children. It doesn’t matter how old I get, or where life takes us……my love for you is paramount. There will never be anyone more important in a mother’s life than her own children, and nor should there be, for the intentions of those not in blood, can never be as pure. You will never have to wonder if I choose ‘you’, for the answer will always be…..yes.

 

 

Only a mother could love them……

I have so much to catch up on here in Blogsville! Why is it that for 48 weeks of the year you could be the winner of ‘Australia’s Most Boring’ then for four weeks you live like the winner of Big Brother. You attend every event known to man and see more people in a week than you have in the last 10 years? It’s been such a big month. Weddings, elections, friends, family, birthdays, uni assignments and of course work.

Despite all of this excitement, I wanted to write about the two things that made me feel human this week. Sometimes things happen around us that make us sit back, shut up and leave us speechless.

After school each day the teachers wait with the children at the pick-up area. Most teachers hate this part, and admittedly some days I do stand there thinking ‘Hurry up and get your children, the quicker you come the quicker I can get my own boys’. This week I stood at pick up with tears in my eyes, hidden under my sunglasses of course. I watched as child after child ran excitedly towards their mums and dads with those big open armed hugs that only kids can give. It was like they hadn’t seen each other for years. The parents walked in one by one, some in work uniforms after a crappy day at work. Some feeling tired, some feeling completely ‘over it’. It would not have mattered if they had left the house fighting each other in the morning, all was forgotten by home time and their mums and dads were their heroes. One particular boy had been struggling with his behaviour all day. It was fair to say he was being a little…(insert word here).  By home time I was glad he was going home to someone else’s house. Moments later I looked up and saw his mum beaming from ear to ear as he ran towards her. Just goes to show even the naughty ones have a mum who thinks the world of them. Might just remember this next time I get a tricky one.

(NB: not all teachers leave on the bell, remember I’m doing casual work. Just had to add that in, as my teacher friends would kill me for feeding the great debate on teacher working hours)

Secondly, A few weeks ago I was stunned by the death of Charlotte Dawson. I felt so strongly about the issues surrounding her death that when I sat down to write about them I couldn’t. It was in the too hard basket. Where do you start? Suicide will always evoke extreme emotions, be it anger, guilt, sadness or disbelief. I guess at the end of the day, I didn’t because whenever a celebrity is pushed into the spotlight, I am left feeling like we should be telling the stories of the people behind the lights, the everyday strugglers, the ones whose stories are never told.

This week upon returning to work the staff were informed of the tragic passing of one of our young mums. She was 34 years old and had taken her own life in the most devastating way. She left behind a husband, a darling 5 year old daughter and a beautiful 7 year old son.  It is now known that she suffered from severe depression. I write this with just love and pure sympathy – absolutely no judgement. Judgement from others will not help her beautiful children as they try to live life without their mum. I looked at her little girl yesterday as she sat listening to me read her a story. Inside I was a weak mess but she smiled back at me waiting to hear more. I wondered what was going on in this little mind, and thought how most adults in the same situation would have lay on the floor kicking and screaming. Sometimes children are there to be the teachers. This five year old showed more courage, dignity and strength than most people I have ever encountered. At the end of the day she came to collect her sticker and her face lit up with excitement, just one week after losing the most important woman in her life, even if she hadn’t yet realised it was forever. She placed the sticker on her hand then skipped out of the room.

As a mum I was rocked to the core by this story. There have been moments where I myself have questioned if I was the best mum for my boys, luckily as with most people who doubt themselves, these thoughts were fleeting and I have a fabulous network of loved ones around for when days get tough. I guess the lesson learned here is that sometimes there is nothing that can keep people with us. But just in case there is a small chance, it costs nothing to ask ‘Are you okay?’

https://www.ruokday.com/

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A letter to beautiful bride to be

Next week my family will fly down to Adelaide for the wedding of one my best childhood friends.

Milly is like the last man standing in our friendship group. She is the last of our high school friends to get married, and to be quite honest, neither of us thought she would ever see this day. But here we are a week out from her big day and I am overfilled with excitement, love and good memories of my beautiful friend.

Out of all of my friends, I have never seen such an amazing personal transformation. She rolled up to our Year eight Indonesian lesson with fire engine red hair, an Adidas Tracksuit (which was not even remotely similar our school uniform) and a bad attitude. I still have images of her swearing and flipping the bird at our teacher as she was kicked out of her first ever class. Ours was the third high school she had attended in as many terms. Kicked out of all of them for truancy and bad behaviour. After attending a well-known private school, it always surprised me that it was at our dodgy state high school that Milly found her way, and took her first steps in becoming the fabulous woman she is today.

After a terrible start to her high school years, and a topsy turvy home life living between 4 different houses at any one time, Milly seemed to find a home and some sense of belonging at Parafield Gardens. She made good friends and encountered some amazing teachers who were able to support her for the remainder of her high school years. It was in Year 12 that our Science teacher paid for Milly to submit a late application for university. Milly still believes it was the kind actions of this teacher that changed her future. To this day, it is stories like these that make me proud to be a teacher.

She went on to become an amazing, compassionate and skilled Primary School Educator. The best laugh was when in her first year of university she was paired for an assignment with the daughter of our old Math Teacher. On finding out his daughter was hanging out with Milly he replied ‘Stay away from her’. Needless to say that when she did turn up to his lesson, she was less than a model student.

So as my friend is an only child and I am her bridesmaid, I asked if I could speak on her behalf at the wedding.

This is what I wanted to say:

Milly I just wanted to start by saying how absolutely beautiful you look tonight, and thankyou to Domenic for allowing me to share in your special day. Milly, I have had the pleasure of having you in my life for 23 Years. During this time we have laughed together, drank together, cried together and grown together. I never once questioned if distance would be a barrier to our friendship. Some years ago, before You met Mr M, I recall a younger but sadder version of you saying ‘I’m never going to get married’, and I looked at you and said ‘yeah, you will, you just haven’t found the right man yet’. At that point in your life, you did not believe me.

 After a good night out at the Casino, you told me you had met Domenic, and I could tell even over the phone that you had met your ‘Tony Soprano’. For the first time there was a respect, there was a man who loved you as you were and seemed to put up with your sometimes ‘difficult’ behaviours. Whilst I had only met Domenic once or twice, I could tell he was a good man, the one to sort you out, the one to sit beside you as you grew old. Thankyou Domenic for making her shine.

 It probably isn’t tradition for the bridesmaids to speak, but then you have never been a one to follow the rules. You are technically an only child, but you have never been alone, you have always been my sister, and have always been a part of my family. As your sister, I am so proud of the woman you have become, and know that you are a better person with Domenic by your side. Be kind to each other, love each other. Remember the feelings you have today, lock them away in your pocket and hold on to them…it is these feelings that will keep you going when times get tough.

 I wish you both all the love and happiness in the world. Can we now raise our glasses once again to congratulate the new Mr and Mrs M…………..

 I know that Milly doesn’t read my blog, but just in case you bump into her…….sshhhhhh, don’t breathe a word, it’s a surprise.

P.s  – (I am also extremely excited that my husband will for the first time take our sons on the plane by himself. After years of telling me ‘it’s easy’ I wish him well. Though he would not admit it if he had struggled anyway! Men, Pfttt… )

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I have married Captain Underpants

Today, for the second time in our relationship, my husband was caught outside in his underwear. At 7:30am this morning, this what not a funny event. At one point he was so furious he could not even bring himself to look at me. By 8:30pm this evening, it was one of the funniest memories I will ever have of him. You have probably already gathered that I am being blamed for this early morning ‘hiccup’. Anyway, you be the judge, here’s how it happened.

 Today was my ‘working day’, which as any mum would know is the only day of the week that the children are guaranteed to sleep in. Any other day you could poke a stick at, they are there tapping on your arm at 5.30am asking to watch the cartoons. To which you reply ‘Mate, even the cartoons aren’t awake yet, go back to sleep’. This little sleep in led to a cascading series of late events. Late showers, late breakfast, late dressing and a few little tantrums thrown in to remind you that they are feeling rushed. By the time I was finally ready to walk out the door, I was feeling more than a little frazzled.  Knowing my husband (Mr K) had a spare hour up his sleeve dedicated to getting himself ready in peace, quiet and solitude, I asked for some help in getting the kids into the car.

 Mr K obliged and proceeded out towards the carport. I followed shortly after with my keys in hand, turned around and locked the door behind me. This is just an automatic action, after previously having left the door open a few times. I remember looking at Mr K as he put the kids in the car thinking ‘Why is he outside in his undies?’ But then quickly dismissed it, gave him a kiss and hopped in the car.

 We waved to Mr K as he stood judging my driving ability and shaking his head at me as I avoided riding up the curb. I pointed through the windscreen to remind him about his undies, but he shook his head as though he didn’t understand. It was a short drive to the Kindy, and I had just pulled up to the front door, with Son 2 in my arms and Son 1 escaping through the Gate, when I look to my left to see a freaky, frantic, half naked man puffing with fear and disbelief shouting ‘Are you serious?’ as he cleared the gate in one huge jump. I was confused and a bit scared.

 I still didn’t know what had happened at this stage. I looked at him and realized it was my husband, but still hadn’t connected how and why he had appeared so quickly at the Kindy without a car, why he had no shoes on and was sweating like a pig and why he was in his underwear. In a state of confusion I asked ‘Are you coming in?’ ( kindy) He looked at me with disgust and jumped to hide inside the car. It was then I realized something wasn’t right. I opened the car door and there he was visibly shaking like a plateful of frightened jelly…a half- naked plate of jelly in the Kindy car park.

 After some expletives and a quick censored summary of the event, I was enlightened to what had occurred. As I was pulling out of the driveway to leave for Kindy, I had  locked Mr K out in the street, in his underwear with no mobile phone, no keys and no way of getting back into our house. His only hope was to do the 700m dash from our house, past the local primary school (with kids already at the crossing) across the main road and over the Kindy fence, barefoot and in his undies. He really had no guarantee of catching me before I left, but hoped if he ran fast enough I would still be there, sparing him the awkward situation in which he would have to try and gain honest entry to a childcare facility to use the phone. I can see it now ‘Yeah right naked guy with no shoes on…..sure we will let you in to use our phone, you’re not a safety risk at all!’.

 

Looking back on this now, I am horrified to imagine what the children at the school were thinking seeing this weirdo run past naked with no shoes on. I’m sure there were a few mums shielding their children’s eyes and avoiding uncomfortable questions.

 The best part of this story is that this is not the first time this has happened to him. So the sheer look of terror that plagued his face this morning, was a sharp reminder of how quickly this could’ve turned ugly….again. It was almost a post- traumatic stress reaction.

 Back when we first moved to the Gold Coast, My husband flew up a few weeks early to get a head start in setting up our apartment. Not knowing a single soul in the state, he was left to unpack boxes one night in our six story apartment block. As some will know, many apartment blocks have a communal rubbish chute located on each floor. So again, in his underwear Mr K thought it a good idea to go and empty the bins. Not realizing the doors to the apartments were spring loaded, he found himself stranded, alone and in his underwear and locked outside of our new home. With no one to call for help or for clothing he was left with 2 choices. Sleep in the hallway and hope help arrives or perform a rather risky Spiderman impersonation up the side of the balcony and hope to hell the balcony doors were open. He chose the latter and made his way up several storeys in only his jocks. One can only imagine what would have happened if he had been caught by neighbours scaling balconies in some old jocks, that definitely had a few holes in the wrong places.

 So you see my dilemma, was it his fault for being outside in his underwear again? Or mine, for being so frazzled that I locked the door on him? You be the judge.

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To Work Or Not to work? Go on I dare you……..

 

Yes it is that time of year again. Unless you are one of the odd people who have placed a ‘no junk mail’ sticker on your letterbox (odd because- I personally love a good thick wad of Junk Mail) you could not have missed the mountains of back to school sales dominating the catalogues.

 

 

 

The first day back at school is fast approaching and for some parents it couldn’t come quick enough. Many have run out of interesting ideas to keep bored children entertained, the play dough is mouldy, the textas are all stubby at the tip and the blow up paddling pools have gone a little green and funky. Parents everywhere are shouting ‘What about the two hundred toys you got for Christmas?’ For others it is a sad time of the year when they lose their babies and hand them over to be cared for by strangers for perhaps the first time in their short little lives. For some it also means that they are left wondering what to do with their spare time, and whether or not it signals time to return to the workforce after the ‘childrearing’ has become more of  a part time job.

 

 

 

It is also back to work for many teachers and educators, and for myself a return to work after spending the year with my family. There are certainly mixed emotions about this. You see I am probably in a small minority of people who adore their children but also actually love what they do. For many years my job was my identity and it was what made me tick. I arrived early and left late, and enjoyed the challenges and rewards of each day. I still believe there is no greater place to work than in a room full of fresh and innocent little people. Even if I could afford to have twenty years off, I would still choose to work.

 

 

 

Then there are the financial incentives. For many, working is essential. There is no magical bank account that continues to top itself up. I have worked from 15 years of age and cannot handle the feeling of ‘not contributing’. Yes sure, I realize my contribution is raising the children, his money is your money blah bah, but at the end of the day I have always earned my own money and contributed in some way. I also love the feeling of independence that comes with earning your own income.

 

 

 

It is also time for my eldest son to spend some time with someone other than me. He is ready, and I am ready too. He doesn’t see many people besides myself and is craving that play time with his peers. He tells me he is so excited to go to Kindy. We are the best of friends but can also have the best of battles. It is like arguing with a 3 and a half year old version of my husband and a couple of days at Kindy will do him the world of good. There are lessons that can’t be taught at home and those that can only be taught and understood in the context of a room full of children. I am so excited to get back, but only for a couple of days a week this time around. I just want to dip my toes into the adult world for a bit, whilst still enjoying vegemite on toast in my undies and the musical perfection that is ‘Playschool’ for the rest of the week.

 

 

 

 

 

Then there is the obvious down side. As a worrier, I panic that someone else will be caring for my children. Strangers. Are they really qualified? There is no one who loves my children more than I do, will they hold them if they cry? My ‘little’ one is still so little, what will he think when I leave him?

 

 

 

I was never destined to be a full time stay at home mum, it was never something that I wished or longed for. I still believe it is the hardest unpaid job around. No one knows how hard you work to make it look like nothing has happened all day and the days just roll into one. Whilst I love the clothes and lipstick….I was never going to make a great 50’s housewife. As controversial as this topic is, and always will be, I would love to hear the reasons and circumstances by which mums decide upon their pathways.

 

 

 

Is job satisfaction prior to having children a deciding factor as to whether people even want to return to their jobs?

 

 

 

Is it pressure from our families? Do we follow in the footsteps of our own mothers?

 

 

 

Do we feel less ‘valuable’ to society when we tick the ‘home duties’ box?

 

 

 

Is it just a financial decision?

 

 

 

Is it generational? Most judgement I have received is from ladies nearing retirement.

 

 

 

 

 

I think it is all about the great balancing act. Some families want to live like kings and therefore must work full time to afford the lifestyle. Some want to just ‘live’ and so they work their bums off to pay the bills. Some would rather live a humble low income existence and watch their children grow, whilst the lucky ones stay at home and can still afford to live big. Whichever category we fall into, it is not our role to judge the situation of others, we choose what is right for ‘us’ and for our families.  We do not need the opinions of people who are wearing their ‘Mr Judgy Judgy Hats’.

 

 

 

Go on I dare you, What are your thoughts, should women stay at home, or return to the workforce?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cheers to Friday and Hairy Big Toes

As it is Fun Friday I wanted to celebrate like the working people do, I thought I would give you the Top 9 comments from my second day back at work. I have started doing a few relief days here and there, which I am absolutely loving. Just enough to remember I am human and that the empty parking space between my ears was previously occupied by brains and qualifications, but few enough to realize my heart is home with my boys, Larry Emdur and Ready, Steady, Cook.

So here they are Drum Roll…………………………………….

  1. She’s copying my turtle.
  1. I can’t see. (Thought she couldn’t see the board, but actually no…she really couldn’t see, the downside of the supply teacher…not knowing the children)
  1. ‘Josh farted”

(Yes, thank you so much Josh. I had already discovered this after walking    straight into it. Really felt like it was in my mouth, like only a child’s fart can be. What the hell do these little humans eat?)

  1. ‘Can I go to the toilet?’

‘No, you just had lunch’.

‘But I’m busting.

‘Okay, go quickly’. (I really wonder what I expect from children when I say       silly things like ‘Go quickly’. Do I want them to push harder? Or just run to the toilet quicker?)

  1. Child returns from the toilet ten minutes later. ‘You took a very long time Jack, where have you been?

‘It was a poo, not a wee’. (enough said Jack…won’t ask that again)

  1. Nicolas tried to wee on me. (What is it with little boys and mucking around in the toilet? Actually come to think of it, men continue to do this well into their thirties)
  1. Are you married?
  1. Do you want to come to my birthday party? It’s on Sunday, there will be lots of other old people there, but you can’t have cake because my mum has already made it and it won’t be big enough.
  1. Your big toe is hairy. (My personal favourite)

This is why I adore working with our little people. Never a dull moment, honest, raw and innocent. You cry with them, you laugh with them and then you catch headlice from them. If you’re feeling fat, they’ll confirm it for you, If you think you’re funny, they’ll change your mind, If you’re feeling sad they’ll rub your back and hug your leg.

I love Year One!

Have A Great Weekend :0

NB: It isn’t really my toe in the picture, but I was quite horrified to find when searching google for ‘hairy toe images’ an actual link for ‘ The best hairy toe websites’ ????????

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