Thursday, August 26, 2010

Working Nine to Five

Dear Readers, the frantic pace of 5 posts a week has caught up with me and I'm afraid I have to cut back to 3 posts a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). I promise if I have something exciting to say I will make an exception. Apart from a sick little boy (one new tooth and still an upset tummy, have not solved that one yet), I don't have a lot of time to blog this week as I am going to work tomorrow. Some of you might be surprised by this since I've been so adamant that I had no interest in going back. It came as a shock to me too but I found myself  saying "yes" despite my reservations.

I wasn't that committed to my teaching career before we came to Hong Kong so I wasn't concerned if my career took a back seat for a while. In our first year here I worked full-time as a teacher's aide for a child with special needs and I loved it. I worked with a dynamic and inspirational teacher and a great group of kids, and it motivated me to try teaching again. I had been out of the classroom for a while so I had to make do with supply (casual, on-call) teaching but it gave me the opportunity to do some travelling and start a family. And that's where I find myself today. I'm in a fantastic school and I really enjoyed it previously but there was always a niggling feeling in the back of mind that it really wasn't helping my career at all. The longer I don't have a classroom of my own, the harder it will be to find full-time work when I am ready to. I also miss having a purpose at work. I like making plans and seeing them through, getting to know a class and watching them grow through the year. When you're supply teaching it's anybody's guess where you'll end up. I've taught everything from P.E. to Music, and sometimes do all that and more in the one day. It does however get me off the island and gives me a chance to assume the role of Mrs C., where I'm known for being good at what I do, not for being J's mummy or D's wife. It's a nice feeling. I've missed the kids and the other staff, and being engaged and challenged in a different way.

The negatives of going back to work are obvious and numerous. I had actually committed to going back after Chinese New Year but when the time came I wasn't ready. Then I was due to work in March, the same week J's reflux hit its peak and there was no way I was leaving my little guy while he was so miserable. I didn't commit to any more days and eventually I decided August might be a good time to start again, with the commencement of the new school year. I gave it a lot of thought and decided that I should be grateful that I don't need to work; that I have the luxury of choice here. Steve Biddulph, in his book Raising Boys, discusses how important it is for boys to have at least one primary caregiver at home with them at all times. I was so keen for that person to be me. "I can do that!" I rejoiced. Then school rang and I found it very hard to say no. The money will help and it really isn't a huge commitment. I've decided to only work when D is home and I can do as little or as much as I like. I'm trying to justify it to myself because I woke up this morning with a knot in my stomach when I realised I have to get up at 6 tomorrow and go to work. Someone else will be greeting J when he wakes up and giving him his breakfast. I hate the thought that he may still be asleep when I leave. I know it's just a day but he changes so quickly and is simply delightful at the moment. We struggled for the first few months and then at 4 months he became so much more interactive and he was thrilled when we introduced food, I thought he was at the perfect age then. At 5 months he was sitting up, and watching the expression on his face as he viewed the world from a new perspective was priceless. At 6 months he was noticing other kids and starting to show affection for the first time. He was definitely perfect at 6 months. Then at 7 months he started saying "mama" and I thought my heart would burst. At 8 months he now waves hello and goodbye and his favourite game is peekaboo. And he can clap his hands and "sing" and clearly adores his mummy and daddy and his ya-ya. He chases the dog around the house and chatters away all day, he is constantly entertaining. This is definitely the perfect age! I don't want to miss a single minute...

I feel terribly ashamed when I complain about having to go to work and I've had to stop myself a few times from mentioning it around the house. Our helper has 3 children in the Philippines and she had not seen them in 2 years when she came to work for us. She has not spent Christmas at home in 8 years; the whole of her daughter's life. I cried when she told me this year would be the first time she had ever spent Christmas with her daughter! I just cannot imagine how hard that must be. She has no choice but to work in another country so her children have a chance at a better life. I really am very lucky, and I shouldn't complain, but tomorrow will be a very long day. As soon as that bell rings I will be out of that door pushing small children out of my way to get home to my beautiful boy. Have a great weekend everyone, see you Monday x

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