I am on holidays.....ahhhh, bliss. I don't know how I would cope in a 'normal' 9-5, 4 weeks vacation a year (if you are lucky) job, because teaching suits me just fine!
Don't kid yourself teaching is easy, because it is an absolute nightmare, especially in a school with so much uncertainty and lack of leadership. Planning and preparing for my classes takes me vast, vast ammounts of time, and during the term I frequently spend hours of my own time with students. Then there is marking, editing, concerts, and productions. They are the fun parts. Then there are politics, bitching, egos, bad teachers, downright dangerous or lazy teachers, agendas, slim (or no!) budgets and being subject to the ill informed whims of whichever ineffective and ill informed political party is in power. (I am not anti-government, just waiting until the day where "education reform" is actually a meaningful phrase and not just a grab for votes.)
However, I get to teach and create everyday in my own little theatre. I help and inspire teenagers. I campaign everyday for the Arts to be recognised as a subject area just as vital and rigorous as Maths and English. I set high goals, and I achieve them.
Sometimes the politics (little "p" politics, such office wah wahs, pleasing everyone and ineffective or annoying people) get me down, and I was more than ready for this holiday. However, for a profession that I just fell into after not getting into WAAPA, at the moment I couldn't be happier.
As a Mum, teaching fits in very well. It pays well, I finish at around 3pm everyday, and I get 14 paid weeks holiday a year.
However, I can't help but fantasise about being a stay at home mum. This holidays we have made glue for papier mache, paper mache-d cut outs of our hands, made Thomas the Tank Engine cupcakes, done a road trip up to Geraldton, flown kites, fed ducks, been to the park, drawn suns and moons, played with rabbits and guinea pigs and ratties, got some more wees and poos in the potty and had a blast doing all of it. Out of guilt (lets be honest) holidays for me are like a big concentrate of super parenting, to make up for not being a stay at home mum. It could be worse, but I can't help wanting it to be better.
But I know it won't be. My wage is the thing that means we can follow whims like take a day trip to Pinjarra, and go get ice creams in Mandurah, and visit our good friends and family in Geraldton. Without it, I would be forced to parent very differently, so maybe I am doing the best I can.
How about that.
* * * * *
I actually came close to losing Ava in the shopping centre the other day.
When I was about 4 or 5, I was with my parents in a new shopping centre. I can't remember exactly which one it was, but at the time it was built, it was the biggest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere. I remember very clearly my Dad telling me that.
Living in a very isolated country town, which Green Head was before the Jurien Road went through, a day trip to Perth was both a privilege and a mission, as well as being a necessity. All the shopping for the next month to 6 weeks was completed that day, as well as visiting relatives and the 4 hour journey there and home. We were in the clothing section of a shop, and I was being silly, hiding from my mother behind skirts and tops, and running under clothing racks. And then, she was gone. I called and called, but she wasn't around the next corner, or the next. Cold fear gripped my heart, as I tearfully called out for my mother.
The same feeling but times one thousand, no one thousand times one thousand, gripped my heart as I called Ava's name in Kmart, Carousel. She had been playing under the clothes, and now I couldn't find her. Suddenly, the clothes I was so interested in were poisonous, the clothing section abhorrent and everything unimportant except finding my baby again. My voice was shrill and full of panic, as I looked under racks, and called again and again, close to both panic and tears.
Just as I was about to rush out of the section we were in, and up to the desk to tell them my child was lost, a young woman in a head scarf asked if I was looking for a small child. Ava was hiding around the corner, being silly because she was tired. I grabbed her and swung her jerkily into the trolley. It took all my strength not to slap her face, yell and scream at her, to vent my stress at her and terrify her into not ever leaving my side again. instead, I asked her to look at my eyes and see how scared Mummy was that she could find Ava, and she burst into tears. Arms wrapped around each other, we went home.
Nothing has ever come close to the terror of that moment, thinking my child was lost. How will I ever cope if she actually gets lost? Breaks her arm or has to have surgery? Has her heart broken? Worse?
I love you, Ava. Don't grow up. Or get hurt. Or move out.
Or, do. Just kiss me better and hold me tight when my poor mummy heart gives out.