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Teacher / Mum – A New September

Another blog to go with our mini series on working parents. We know that being a teacher means you already love kids but when Deborah became a mum so was reminded that each of her pupils is someone’s ‘baby’.

I am starting back to work this September and I can’t believe I am. You’ll know from my last blog post that I’ve spent the year working x10 harder than I ever have: keeping a miniature version of myself fed, clothed and clean(ish).

But do you know what? I’m feeling ok. Because despite the fatigue, the terror, the poo colour googling ( with pictures!) the sometimes overwhelming loneliness and the shock of myself in the mirror (“How long has that ketchup been on my chin?” Husband: “A few days.”) I’m still here. I did it. I’m doing it. And work is now just another task to get on with.

Because babies change you. Yes, in all THOSE ways, but in so many other ways too. I’m thinking tonight of all the other mums: looking at the child they carried, birthed, fed, held and nurtured; their baby girl or boy, with a new school blazer hanging on the back of the door; their baby: reaching yet another milestone that tugs and rips at their heart. And their babies are leaving them to come to me, and I have such an important job to do. This year has made me realise just how special children are. I already knew they were pretty great, but now I have a beautiful girl that I live for too and my job suddenly feels overwhelmingly important.

My daughter reaches a milestone this September too: the start of her education. Someone will be taking her hand from mine and leading her into a world of learning. For hundreds of parents this year, this is MY responsibility too. What an amazing, terrifying, humbling honour.

I gain yet another label for my personal CV: working mum. Here we see another change: my job isn’t my whole world any more, and it never will be again. I am in absolute awe of parents who juggle: families and careers, no matter what you work as, you do it all but you also have it all! My key will be balance, but balance perhaps implies balancing two things. For me it’s three: family, work and me. My daughter and husband need me, my students need me, but I need me too. Let’s not forget about ourselves in all of this, because if you have gained the preface ‘working’ then more than likely you have numerous plates to spin. So run, walk, have a long bath or just SIT STILL, ALONE (my personal favourite). Because if you’re not right, then nothing is.

So much has changed for me, and this new academic year is going to be an interesting one. But I’m ok. You’re ok. IT WILL BE OK. Working parents: you have raised a maniac in a sleep suit who is forever covered in yoghurt but they belly laugh because of YOU every day. You’ve done it. You’re doing it. Nothing can be harder than that, right?  Good luck.

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The author

Deborah McClean is an English teacher in a large secondary school in South Gloucestershire. She has experience mentoring trainee teachers, leading EPQ in sixth form and leading whole school Literacy. Deborah has also recently been appointed as a School Governor for a specialist school for Autism in Bristol. During 2017-2018 Deborah took a period of maternity leave to care for her first daughter, Ivy. She is just about to finish her second maternity leave with Cora in 2020 in the shadow of COVID19. During her first maternity leave she published her first book: Almost There: Lessons from a Trainee Teacher - written for trainee teachers and NQTs. Deborah is also a poet and writer, with work published in the ezine Ink, Sweat and Tears. Deborah tweets between naps @TrainTeachGrow.

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