Reluctance: unwillingness or disinclination to do something. “she sensed his reluctance to continue” synonyms: unwillingness, disinclination, lack of enthusiasm.
Urgh. Meh. Pah. Bleurch. On Monday, for the first time in nearly two years, I will return to work as a primary school teacher after my third (and final) maternity leave. A couple of weeks ago – feeling extremely nervous and apprehensive – I went into school to join in their Christmas lunch. And when I came home I wrote this…
Today I went into work for the first time in a very long time. And in January I return to work after nearly two years of extended maternity leave. How was it you ask? Strange, horrible, exciting, different.
For those of you who don’t know I’m a primary school teacher and have been for the last 14 years since I qualified. I’ve worked both as a supply (supply teacher of the month May 2003 I’ll have you know!) and then as a permanent member of staff in my current school since September 2003. During that time teaching, my school and myself have changed unrecognisably. It’s fair to say the current education system neither excites or motivates me – if I had Michael Gove’s job things would be done very differently, but sadly I don’t, and somehow have to fit back into a school and a system I’m not particularly enamoured with.
Now I’m not going to go into detail about my actual school, because let’s face it as a teacher I’m not entirely sure I should blog about work at all, but what I do want to write about is how I’m feeling about returning. This will be the third time I’ve returned from work after having a baby. The first time I was a single parent and my daughter was 18months old. Having had to defer my last year at university after my father had died I hadn’t had a full time job before I got pregnant, so being a supply teacher seemed like the perfect way to get back into teaching. And it was the right time. My daughter has always been very busy, inquisitive and sociable and (as my mum lived over two hours away so couldn’t help out) nursery seemed like the best choice. She settled in instantly which helped and I was excited to return to work. Supply teaching meant if I needed a day off I could easily have one, but it did mean no holidays as I worked in nursery school during the school holiday time, or there was I didn’t get paid. It worked well. Working three days a week gave me the best of both worlds and I loved being ‘me’ at work, something that was mine and defined me and I was good at. Then, when she was three, I had an opportunity to work permanently and full time. A choice I didn’t take lightly, but a regular income was too good to turn down.
Skip down the line a couple of years and I met my husband and became pregnant again. This time I was on maternity leave for just ten months, and at the end of it I was raring to get back to work. I thrived on the buzz, applied for and got a promotion whilst on maternity leave and loved it. Working three days again was brilliant and I still got to spend some wonderful time with my children when I wasn’t at work. I became an expert at compartmentalising things and when at home work did not cross my mind once.
And this time, well this time is different. This time is so very different. And I’m not sure why. Is it me? Is it work? Is it because of pnd? Or because I know I’m not having anymore children and going back to work is now forever until I retire…which will probably be when I’m one hundred and fifty if the government have anything to do with it. Although this maternity leave has been one of my most challenging – pnd really is a complete bitch – it has also been the most amazing time of my life. I knew I would want to take extended maternity leave when I first found out I was pregnant and applied for it straight away; and I’m so grateful we’ve (just about) been able to afford it. With my middle child starting school last September I knew that the long settling in period would be difficult to manage if I was working. My husband works away often and there is no family close by to help out and I didn’t want to rely on wrap around care immediately like I had to with my daughter. And now I’ve taken that extra magical, and wonderful time away from work it’s making it so much harder to go back. My life is pretty amazing at the moment. Yes I have a challenging pre-teen saying she hates me often, yes I have two wonderfully lively boys who never stop, and yes some days I am overwhelmed with the groundhogness of it all – but it really is simply perfect. I love being with my children, I love being able to blog, I love spending time with my friends who are mums themselves. And of course none of those things actually have to stop, but they will be impacted upon by work.
And work itself. I felt lonely today, which is ridiculous considering the staff are over 60 in number. It’s changed so much. I likened it earlier to some colleagues to the boiling frog analogy – and that those still there haven’t noticed the many changes because they have been subtle and over a period of time, like the frog not realising he’s getting too hot – and then there’s me, the frog thrown into the boiling water and screaming because it’s painful and shockingly different and not a pleasant place for me to be at all.
And then I stopped writing. So, Monday is the day and as you can probably guess I’m pretty reluctant. Hopefully once I’m back all of the people who have said, ‘It’ll be like you never left!’ will prove to have been right. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
Do you work? How did you feel about going back…any magical words of advice for me?!