Saturday, October 10, 2015

Reflections on working life

So this is my first year back working full-time in 11 years. And it’s a big one – every class I’m teaching is new content and every non-teaching role I’m doing is new. Ha!  I have some kind of in-built magnet for ridiculousness.

But we are getting towards the end of the year now and patterns have been established and bedded in.  So what’s it like to go back to work? How’s it going?

It’s been really, really good. Yes, there have been some mad crazy mornings where kids suddenly discover they have no school shirt at the last minute, but on the whole we’ve eaten food and had clean clothes and generally been where we need to be when we need to be there.

Work is rewarding. I’ve always loved teaching and so the whole going to work caper is generally enjoyable. I want to be there. I like the people and the buzz and the kids. I like having my brain stretched (more so after the stretching than during the process).

The kids don’t seem to be too phased. I think because we all go to the same place at the same time and come home together it is pretty much business as usual for them. And we have most of the same days off so there’s only a little bit of juggling with curriculum days and so on.  And as we are at the same location, dealing with late notes, forgotten lunches or discussions with band teachers is easier – I can always pop a note in someone’s pigeon hole later in the day if I didn’t get it done before we left the house.  I know what is going on in Year Whatever so I’m not often blind-sided by finding out there’s a special day coming up that requires me to send 30 milk bottle tops and a cereal box or little Fred won’t get to be involved in the end-of-unit craft spectacular (I totally made that example up but it’s not far off…).

And I decided early on that there are no prizes for martyrdom this year.  I use the dryer lots, I buy more prep-paid stuff for lunchboxes than I used to and we have a cleaner once a fortnight. I am not doing this while still churning my own butter each morning and ironing all our pillowcases – I make choices.  And some stuff has not gotten done that probably should have (a post for another day).

I think one of the things that has become clearer for me as the year's gone on is that my circumstances in terms of life/family/work are unique.  Whether or not a mum can go back to work full-time or part-time when they have X number of children who are X years old is a question that knows of no one answer.  There are many answers as there are mothers and families and circumstances.  And even "identical" circumstances are not really identical because we all have different capacities for coping. That which would induce a meltdown in me might be fine and dandy for someone else.

Before I went back to work, I often wondered how working mums "did it".  My days were already full and I was baffled as to how other mums squeezed more in without the whole house of cards falling down.  The answer is that they don't.  They don't in the sense that my evaluation of what they might or might not be doing is totally.... imaginary.  And whether people are coping or not has to do with multiple dimensions within their circumstances (do they have family near by? does their spouse have flexi-time? do they have access to afterschool care? are their working hours predictable and negotiable? are their extra family issues or health concerns? do they love their job or are they forced into it by circumstances? how many kids? how old? what are their personalities? etc, etc) and it simply cannot be answered by asking, "How many hours of paid work per week do you do?"

For me, this is working well now.  It helped that I think my job is both God's gracious provision for me at this time and a wonderful opportunity for me to serve God in what I do.  Loving it!


Meredith said...

What?? You've stopped churning your own butter???
That's gorgeous. Ah, I have missed your gorgeous sense of humour while you have been bedding down the full time work thing. But well done you. It sounds wonderful.

Deb said...

@ Meredith: I know the butter thing is a shock. ;) I've even considered giving away ironing the children's socks...

Anonymous said...

You go girl! I hope you are still baking those little white rolls at 5am in an apron though ... please don't spoil my idealism ...

Karen said...

Hi Deb, it's been a while! Just setting up feedly so I can catch up on all my favourite blogs more often :) Love this post, couldn't agree more. Glad all is well for you in the working world.

NafaLabel said...

Nice post man.