Friday, 28 June 2019

Expansion

On Friday I went to my school for the end of year goodbye breakfast: the school I started at in 2015, that lovely yet heartbreaking year where I grew into my mother role, started a new job, and witnessed my father’s ultimately fatal illness.

I will be starting at a new school when I return to work in the fall. The reasons are similar to 2015 too: due to changing enrolments, budget issues, and who knows what else, special Ed programs are periodically reduced or expanded in size, and teachers moved around. I am lucky to have a permanent contract where I am placed in  a new job when this happens, even coming off of an extended leave. Lots of teachers (and students) deal with far more uncertainty.

Despite the fact that I once again have a transition on top of a transition to negotiate, I am quite happy about this new start: in fact I’d say mostly happy.

My experience at, we’ll call it Second High School, was mostly good. It would certainly be a stretch to call it bad. But it was marred to some degree by something I can best describe with that vague, angst inducing phrase from my childhood: I didn’t quite fit in. And for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to entirely overcome this issue. It grew (in cycles) from a feeling of awkwardness to something that stunted professional relationships. Why couldn’t I deal with it? Was it reduced IQ from parenthood? Too many demands on my social awareness? Unease from my changing life roles? Simple exhaustion? Not the work culture I thrive in? A mismatch of values at some subterranean level? I’ve thought about it, a lot, often with a feeling of shame and inadequacy, and I can think of possible reasons why but I don’t exactly know, and maybe I won’t know till there is more distance from the environment.

Anyway, I am glad I went on the last day to see people one last time (odds are we will run into each other in other places too), and I was genuinely moved by the little goodbye speech my closest teaching colleague made: it had personal anecdotes and observations and was genuinely warm and funny. I am looking forward to the new adventure in the fall: also special ed, but a different program, different ages. I have a clearer mental map of what starting a new job is like after my first experience, and I intend to pay closer attention to the social aspect of the job. I also think I’m a more stable person now than I was four years ago and I have a better support network myself.

The other reason I’m relieved to not go back to Second High School is that the place is saturated with memories of trying to get pregnant with a second child (and later being pregnant). No, we weren’t having sex there, haha, but there are plenty of other associations apparently.

In no particular order:

-Peeing on an OPK during our short lunch break, then wrapping it in paper towel and trying to place it horizontal in my pocket, while eating my lunch or rushing off to debate club or whatever. Finding a surreptitious moment to check it later (and photograph if it was a promising one). Always afraid I’d leave the damn thing somewhere or it would be visible in the wastebasket and somebody would think it was a positive pregnancy test. 

-explaining my increased nausea and moodiness on Clomid to my EAs

-Swallowing my collection of vitamins and supplements at lunchtime. This might not sound like a big deal but I frequently struggle with eating a decent meal when I’m anxious, and adding a bunch of pills in addition to food can feel really gross and gag inducing.

-When pregnancy finally happened: the frantic effort to balance nausea, anxiety, appointments and emotions with teaching, planning, sub planning, offsite activities, individual program plan writing, report cards, early morning meeting (yecch!). I was extremely lucky in this regard: everyone was VERY supportive. But, it was effort that took me to the limit, nonetheless.

-taking blood draws later in pregnancy when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and working this ritual behaviour into all the other ritual behaviours that one has as a teacher.

-this one was outside of school but deserves a mention: finishing my IPP updates  in the hospital while waiting for my second ECV procedure (to turn the breech baby head down: it ultimately was unsuccesssful of course).

-finally, this is one of the most vivid: alone in the staffroom, a couple of weeks before due date, filling in the form requesting my leave of absence. That feeling of relief mixed with nervous urgency and the realization I’d almost forgotten to do it with everything else on my mind. But the silence, the stillness, the reality pushing through the unreality (and the memories of lunchtime OPKs and gaggy pills) that THIS WAS HAPPENING. 

I realized the weird power of association last Christmas when I went to visit to the school and my former class. I walked in the door and was overwhelmed by a sense of I NEED TO GET PREGNANT NOW. I am not 100% reconciled to the end of my reproductive years, but I do NOT typically fantasize about being pregnant or even think much about it, and I have ZERO desire to resume the trying-to-conceive lifestyle. I ooh and aah appropriately at teeny babies but easily move on. So the broadside of emotion was a shock. I can only conclude that the environment triggered a whole bunch of very powerful mental associations that were going mercifully dormant and perhaps slowly disintegrating. I am not kidding; that experience was causing me to dread returning to that school this fall. I am more than a little relieved I don’t need to be buffeted by those memories in addition to all the demands of teaching.

I could go on and on, but as I mentally adjust I find myself grateful for closure, and ready for the next adventure. I am ready for my life to EXPAND, which is why I chose the title of this post rather than all the cliches about change I could have written. 

Onward.

8 comments:

  1. I think it is amazing and wonderful at what a generous leave plan you get there, to go on an extended leave and still have such great job benefits protecting you. That would be such a relief to women and families if we had that opportunity here in the US.

    I understand your feelings about your life 4 years ago. When I had my first child, those first years felt so unstable...I felt awkward and like I didn’t really fit in anywhere. It took a while for me to feel comfortable and comfy in my role. I think that’s only natural...having a child changes so many things and causes quite an upheaval, really, for lack of a better word.

    Congrats on the new job! That is exciting to look forward to that come the fall. I hope you enjoy your summer before diving in to the new school year!!

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    1. Thanks! I appreciate the understanding and compassion!

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  2. Ah, what a lovely tribute to the end of a chapter in more ways than one! Good luck in your new placement. Special Ed really is a funny beast -- what you teach and what ages and what your day looks like is so changeable. I hope that you click at the new school-- I have had that feeling of "I don't quite being here" and it's uncomfortable to say they least. You spend so much time at school and it's nice when you connect with your fellow teachers and can commiserate and have a tribe, and when that doesn't happen it call feel so lonely. Congratulations on a new placement! Happy summer!

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    1. Absolutely agree. I also tend to be analytical in social situations rather than intuitive so I need to have the mental space to process. Thanks for the good wishes.

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  3. Best of luck at the new school! Hopefully it'll be a good fit!

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