I was dreading going back full time. I didn’t know how on Earth I’d get everything done. I would fail at both parts of my life.
I’ve been back full time teaching for a few weeks now. Gone are the afternoons when I could leave school at 2pm. Gone is my Friday Blog Day (you can probably tell). It’s hello to two new classes I’ve taken over, I’ve become their full time English teacher, and it’s goodbye to ever doing my own school run for my own children.
It’s a matter of necessity. I have to earn more to be allowed a mortgage. I have to buy a flat for me and the kids. Rent is a monthly haemorrhage which I cannot possibly stem as a teacher. Not unless those Premium Bonds start getting luckier than their owner.
The weird thing is, once the heart-squeezing sadness of organising all the childcare that you can no longer do is done; once you have a settled pattern and you begin to see that your friends really do mean it when they say that they will support you (D and E, M and C, you are the best) you can let yourself enjoy work again.
Part time people can’t enjoy work in the same way. They are always leaving. They always have to rush away to spin their next plate. Now, don’t misunderstand me, teaching ain’t no party in the pub, but when you’re full time there are a few lessons of Non-Contact Time (NCT) built into your week (unless you are stung for cover) and during that NCT you are trapped at school. You can do some marking! You can plan for tomorrow! You can meet a colleague and talk about a child…. you can even have a cup of coffee (if someone’s managed to bully some milk out of the kitchen staff) and, shock horror, you are getting paid for that preparation. When you’re part time, you feel you must head straight to Tesco, or to the Hoover, or to re-tile your bathroom, attempt to save the economy of Ecuador, herd cattle, re-galvanise a Second World War Battleship – basically anything to make up for the fact that you’re ALLOWED to be part time. You have to do it all. And you don’t belong to anyone.
When you’re full time, you are allowed back into a secret club at work. No one mentions the club. But it’s there. It’s a sort of secret respect club. The Full Timers. We know stuff that the part timers probably don’t. We have seen stuff. We qualify for the biscuits a teeny bit more. We are there for each other at the final tea break, just before the horrific 3:45pm – 4:45pm lesson 6 when no one should have to take 5S and 5S should really be at home with a glass of milk and a bit of CBBC.
So, I’ve felt tired – true. I’ve missed the blog day – true. I’ve leaned heavily on mates which has been gorgeous; they are there. But I am now earning enough to have had my offer accepted on a small flat which we will make into a wonderful place and the haemorrhage will stop. I have been warmly invited back into the secret-respect club of the full timers, I have been promoted to Head of Department for September (and shall roll about covering myself in the luxuries that the extra £38 a week shall bring – NOT EVEN JOKING – that’s what your child’s Heads of Department may well be taking home as their payment for the immense extra responsibility, so go easy on them…..) and I have missed my own children.
But in some ways, it’s been easier. I have become an ‘old-fashioned dad’ – I come home and catch the good bits. The quality bits. The supper, bath, story bits.
And I’m being kinder to myself because I know I deserve it.
Full time is hard.
But at this moment, I feel part time was harder.