It quickly became apparent that I would need to fight to prove my worth

After my first maternity leave of 6 months, I went back to work as a full-time teacher, full of excitement for the vocation I loved. Within 24 hours I was in floods of tears – not because I missed my baby, but because I was not ‘missed’ at all. I walked into my old office to a barrage of questions from colleagues eager to know which year group they thought I was going to work with. I didn’t realise I’d be moved around, as HR hadn’t mentioned it at all!

It quickly became apparent that I would need to fight to prove my worth, so I was back to doing 14/16 hr days, working all day Sunday to prep, employing a cleaner to help out at home. Soon I realised I went four straight weeks without seeing my daughter in the evenings as I was working late at school. I felt guilty for trying to protect my career with a beautiful baby at home that had suffered a brain injury at birth and needed me more than ever. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even think about the toll it was having on my partner. How selfish I must seem.

Nineteen months later and daughter number two was born. I decided this time I would take the full year having missed out on so much with my first, and feeling guilty to boot. Mat leave was wonderful but a real financial struggle, so again I was back to work full time from September. I’d had a call with the headteacher asking me which year group I wanted to work with, which I thought was quite considerate this time.

Fast forward to my return. I arrive to find my year group changing for over a week. I had no desk, no space in the office, no place to actually do my work, no phone, and more importantly, no support at all for my return. After a few days of floating around, asking to log people off so I could quickly respond to emails or plan a lesson, I found a spare desk in a different area of the school. With nothing else available, I moved myself in, restocked on supplies out of my own pocket and worked hard to make myself seem worthy again. Then for the epiphany – I was doing exactly the same as last time, exactly what I’d been telling myself I wouldn’t do again. I am now two weeks in, have been told by senior staff I can’t sit at the desk I found as it’s ‘not in the right office’ and am attached to 2 year groups (meaning responsibility for over 750 children!) and there are now too many year leaders for each year group (ie there are normally 2/3 and I am now the forgotten 4th that no one factored in). I have been told to my face ‘I didn’t think you’d come back’ and ‘aren’t you better off being at home’ by colleagues all fighting to prove their worth in the job I was previously seen as being indispensable in, and am now looking to figure out a way of getting out before the end of term to save my sanity, and pride.

Apparently, if you have two small children and hold a management position, you will be physically forced to work standing up and be told repeatedly you are not needed.

Who knew…!


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