Teacher vs Mother
Freyja came back from nursery this week with a letter about her pre-school nativity. She has the role of a sheep. She chose to be a sheep. Part of me wished she had chosen to be a Disney princess as I would have no trouble sourcing a costume for her with that. But after the initial thoughts of homemade or bought sheep costume, I was hit with the realisation that I am not going to be able to see her as a sheep, regardless of the costume, in her first ever nativity, because I am a teacher.
As teachers we have heard all the “jokes” about long holidays and finishing at 3:30pm every day. Now I could write loads about all the work that goes into planning and preparing lessons and marking work, a lot of this taking place after 3:30pm (often until late) or in holidays, but I’m not. Yes, I get 13 weeks of holiday a year. I know that this is much more than most people get. But I have no say in when I take this holiday. I am not able to take off a couple of hours, or a half day of holiday to watch my daughter in her first nativity play. And this breaks my heart.
I am in a job where I am having to put educating other people’s children above a milestone in my own child’s life. I know that this is the right thing to do. My professionalism is extremely important to me. My job is important. But does the time I have in the classroom with 60ish students whilst Freyja is bleating in a fluffy, white costume mean more to them than it does to my daughter?
I am sure some of you reading this will have very little sympathy – this is surely the pay off to having those 13 weeks of holiday. And it’s not as though I didn’t enter the profession knowing the deal with the fixed holiday dates. We have a lot thrown at us in the education system – huge workloads, constant pressure driven by pupil results, OFSTED inspections and a lack of respect from (some) pupils and parents, and despite all of that it is my love for teaching the, mostly fantastic young people I get to work with that gets me through all of that. But can I still be both the teacher that I want to be and the mother that I need to be at the same time?