Welcome to the third instalment of the ‘Mama You Can’ series.
If you’ve stumbled upon this series for the first time welcome! This is a series I started to share inspiring stories from mama’s who, after having children, have decided to change the path of their careers. This series was inspired by my own decision to leave my role as a Business Director at a media agency to pursue a life in blogging and vlogging. Every Thursday I’ll be sharing different mama’s and their stories and I hope you find them as inspiring as I have.
For the third in the series we have the story from Claudette who before becoming a mama was a geography teacher. As we all know sometimes our jobs and careers pre-children don’t fit with life after a child, so without telling her story for her it’s over to Claudette…
Mama You Can with Claudette Anderson @motheringfunday
Hey, I’m Claudette and I’m soon to be unemployed. Am I scared? No. Do I have a mortgage to pay? Yes. So what the hell am I doing?!
I’ve been a geography teacher for 10 years and apart from dreaming of becoming a ballerina or a weather forecaster (I’m still available for that in case anyone from the Met Office is reading), it’s all I really wanted to do. If you ask a teacher how they feel about their job they’re likely to say that they love it, and they hate it. It’s a wonderful profession, and when you’re passionate about making kids understand the world that they live in, you get so much from it. Unfortunately, it also bleeds the life out of you. Teachers are often portrayed in the media as moaners but if you know someone in the job then you’ll have a pretty good understanding of the hours and emotional investment involved. That’s pretty hard to deal with some weeks, though the late night marking and early starts do get you prepared for having a baby inflict their schedule on you!
Things started to change for me when I was pregnant. All was well at first but I quickly became very nauseous which turned into months of morning, afternoon and evening sickness (when is anyone going to rename it as it really is?!). When the sickness finished I had about a month of feeling ok before the exhaustion kicked in; I certainly never reached the miraculous ‘glowing’ stage. I suffered from bleeding at the start and end of my pregnancy too which meant extra trips to the hospital and many hours of anxiety. I physically couldn’t put in the same hours and looking back this was probably a bit of a wakeup call for me.
Apart from continuing to help my exam classes, once I was on maternity leave I barely thought about school. Having a human leach attached to you isn’t conducive to thinking in general, and when I did get a chance to catch my thoughts they mainly revolved around my expectations of parenting versus the reality. If I could go back and slap that smug pre-baby self across the cheeks then I certainly would, whilst telling her to appreciate that time in the cinema watching the film which ‘wasn’t worth it.’
In the months leading up to my return I took some time to consider what I was signing back up to. It goes without saying that having a child changes your perspective on things; I just didn’t expect to be weighing up my whole career. Once I started thinking about it I was surprised at how quickly I was moving towards the decision to resign. I started back at work and it just didn’t feel the same. I was fortunate enough to return part-time on my chosen days and we had 2 days of free childcare, but it soon became apparent that after a day at school and bulldozing through the pickup to bedtime routine, I had no energy left to mark a set of Year 9 assessments. There are other factors of course, but ultimately I just didn’t see it as a job that would allow me to spend time enjoying my tiny little human.
So after just a month of teaching again I handed in my notice. I cried, as one would expect from someone who weeps at animated films, but I was mostly excited. Excited by the unknown, excited by new things to learn, and excited by not having to face the A12-M11-M25 combo at 7am ever again.
I’d be lying if I said that social media didn’t have a part to play in my decision. A lot of people give Instagram and the like a bad rep but if you use it to build communities, support each other and celebrate achievements then it’s a welcoming place. Sure, those achievements can be as small as having a shower but some days that deserves a pretty big high five. Using social media has opened up a world of ideas and has given me the confidence to know that it will be ok.
Since resigning I have started Digital Mums and I’m thrilled to be learning something completely new. I am very hopeful that it will provide me with a more flexible and modern way of working but I guess I will have to come back in 6 months and give you an update on that! What I have found since I made my decision to resign is that positivity breeds positivity. I have explored new opportunities to network, I’m working on 2 different projects and I have stepped way out of my comfort zone; instead of being scared by it all, I have totally embraced it.
It’s not 1950, you’re not in a job for life anymore and that opens up brilliant opportunities. Very few things are permanent these days, except me be being 10 seconds away from thinking about chocolate at any given time. There is still a lot of work to be done to achieve true equality in the workplace but I’m grateful to be living in an age that makes it possible for me to make these kinds of decisions. If you’re thinking about changing your pathway then trust your instincts, they know you well. I’d rather regret the things I do than the things that I don’t and I’m confident that I can do well in anything I set my mind to. I know that there will be bumps in the road but they will be along a different route to before, and new adventures are what I live for.
Thanks so much to Claudette for sharing her story, it sounds like you have lots of exciting opportunities ahead of you and we can’t wait to see what you do next! If you want to see more from Claudette you can find her on Instagram as @motheringfunday
You can follow the Mama You Can series on this blog every Thursday. If you’re a mama thinking about changing your career direction check back next week or if you want to share your story, please do get in touch.