Today I finished my teaching qualification. Doing the Career Change thing, I was able to work part time, study part time, and feel human… well… occasionally. I’ve been very lucky – I’ve had paid study leave and a fantastic work environment. Given my higher education background, the research requirements of the course were not too taxing, and being a writer meant completing the written work was relatively quick for me.
(You know there’s a “but” coming, don’t you? Saw it coming a mile off. Sorry. I’m predictable.)
But… Studying while working is tough. Studying while working at a job like teaching, that happily fills all your spare time and overflows into your eating and sleeping space if you don’t watch it like a particularly paranoid hawk: It’s a challenge.
Studying while parenting? That’s tough too, even if, like me, you are fortunate enough to co-parent with the world’s greatest Dad (I will accept that it could be a shared title, but it is quite certain that none surpass him).
Studying, teaching and parenting – no-one would be that crazy, I’m sure.
Studying, teaching, parenting, and coping with random trauma that seems to hunt in large and vicious packs? Forget it.
But I survived. And even though I didn’t think the study was a huge weight on my shoulders, I find myself standing straighter, walking taller and generally feeling greatly relieved to have it all out of the way.
Last night some of my fellow career changers met for dinner to celebrate the end of the course, and I dearly wanted to be there. But as with so many things over the past year, I had to invoke the CBE award: Can’t Be Everywhere. I have a dangerous tendency to try to be everywhere, do everything, and help everyone. It can’t be done, of course, and trying tends to lead to implosions of the sort that cause way more trouble than I was trying to fix in the first place.
Just to keep my head above water, sleep and family have to be my priorities. I am so lucky to have supportive friends and an amazing workplace that have kept picking me up, dusting me off and reminding me why the heck I keep doing this to myself over the last two years.
My mentor, ever handy with the frying pan of perspective, has received many a frantic late night email and repeatedly prevented me from doing anything overly crazy, using alternate hugs and (mental) slaps to keep me in line. My friends have weathered my crises, provided coffee, cake, and chocolate where necessary, and generally made it possible for me to remain (mostly) upright.
My kids have coped with the words “Not now, I’m busy” on seemingly endless repeat. My husband has borne the brunt of… well, of everything, really, with grace and good humour.
2012 has been brutal, but I have decided not to wait until 2013. My new year starts here and now, as I say farewell to study but never to learning. I have been getting feedback from my year 12s that is intoxicating in its appreciative encouragement. I must have been doing something right! I’m going to take that feedback and make it the foundation of my new year.
So Happy New Year to you. May it be full of contentment, fulfilment, and hugs.