Back in the dark ages when I was at school, the start of the new school year always coincided with my birthday at the end of January. Whether it fell on the last day of the holidays, or the first day of term, it always sucked. I counted my birthday as part of the holidays - Christmas, New Year, Summer, Birthday, so for me it always marked the end of something. Even though February, like August here, is the hottest month in Australia, going back to school meant summer was over, and it always made me sad. When I grew up and started working I relived that feeling every Sunday night. I'm going back to work tomorrow, although it seems strange to say "going back" because it's been so long since I really worked. Technically I'm starting again, a brand new job in a brand new school. It's the end of summer AND a Sunday night, and I have a serious case of the blues.
I haven't worked full-time since 2008 - a long time. I've been busy, you know, seeing the world, falling pregnant, having a baby and doting on him all day, every day. I was freaking out just a little at the prospect of going back to work, I really wasn't sure if I wanted to, let alone whether or not it was the right thing to do. I've been lucky that I haven't had to, really lucky I know, but a few unforeseen expenses later and now there's not much choice. I've been beside myself over the summer as I counted down the remaining days; juggling the feeling that I'm abandoning my little guy with the need to make sure we have money in the bank, always with the thought that this is a great job, that will be really good for my career, floating around in the back of my mind. I hate the thought of someone else spending the day with J, and I am especially worried about the impact my absence is going to have on him. I'm sure he's going to cope, he shouldn't miss me too much, but what worries me more is how he's going to change when our helper is in charge. Last week I stepped back a bit just to see how she would handle certain situations and my enthusiasm for going to work dwindled even further. It doesn't bode well. Working full-time and the inevitable exhaustion and mummy-guilt is also going to be detrimental for my poor, already neglected blog.
Apart from all that, and the gnawing-at-my-insides separation anxiety, this is a new job, in a school I've never worked in before. It's been a long time since I had to start again. When I was at school I only ever changed schools once, and that was because the school I went to for 11 years finished at year 10. So I went to school with basically the same group of kids for 11 years. I can't begin to tell you how terrified I was on the first day of year 11, and well, you can imagine how I coped with those early days at uni ("O Week", was more like "hell week"). This sheltered little life I led didn't exactly prepare me well for dealing with change. It may have been 15 years since I left school, a few years at uni and several jobs since graduation, but that fear of change, of the unknown, of the end of summer, is sitting like a rock in the pit of my stomach tonight. I was in a panic on Friday afternoon waiting for an email from the school telling me what time I would be starting tomorrow morning. I hated not knowing exactly when I had to be there, who I had to see and what exactly I would be doing.
Being the new kid is never easy. I may be standing at the front of the classroom these days but tomorrow I'll have more in common with the kids in their shiny new uniforms, nervously hoping I don't get lost, than with any of my colleagues. When you're new somewhere you want to make a good impression, but until you find your feet, until you've made a few friends and proven yourself, you're always going to be a little bit behind. I've already worked out what I'm going to wear, I've got my sensible shoes out, I've packed my bag with my snacks and supplies, and I've checked the bus timetable so I'll be on time (control freak maybe?). But I still don't know the kids I'll be working with, when I'll get to eat my meticulously packed lunch, and who I should sit next to in the staff-room. I've been in some pretty hostile staff-rooms in my time, and sometimes it's easier just to eat your lunch in your classroom, pretending you're really quite busy. It's just occurred to me I'll probably have to do playground "duty", a thought which, in this heat, scares me more than a hostile staff-room... The kids will always push their luck with new staff to see how much they can get away with. It's been such a long time since I've been bad-arse Mrs C that I'm not sure I remember how to show them that they can't get away with very much at all. I'm exhausted just thinking about it and I haven't even started yet!
So I'm going in at 8.15am tomorrow morning to face a lot of unknowns. It's more terrifying than exciting but I think it will be good for me, and if it's good for me, it'll be good for J (fingers crossed). One thing I do know for sure, is that I only have to get through 6 weeks of work (6 Sunday nights, 6 Mondays) before I get a week off, and the holidays are already on the calendar. And that reminds me why I became a teacher in the first place. Have a good week everyone.