For the last couple of days, my 16 year old daughter has been reminding me that we HAVE to watch The Sunday Project this week. We had an alarm set and everything! After weeks and weeks of watching Gladys address the state every morning, fighting off one journalist after another, determined to get her to say the wrong thing...After watching her lead us in what has been, undoubtedly one of the most challenging times in our state’s history, and definitely the most challenging time during her role as Premier… After all of this, my impressionable, eager young feminist, was just keen to hear the ins and outs of what was happening behind the scenes. Eager to see what makes this strong woman tick.
What is the decision making process?
How does the politics work?
What has been the process during the whole pandemic for planning our way out?
On top of that, it was Lisa Wilkinson who was going to be interviewing her. Another strong female role model, who left her breakfast television time slot, in a bid to fight against the inequities against women in the workplace.
We don’t usually watch The Project, but tonight, you had us waiting with baited breath.
And this is what we got….
One of the first questions was about the Ruby Princess….not about the hard decisions, or the leadership…..Lisa instead, tried to catch her out with, “Do you feel guilty everytime someone from the Ruby Princess dies?”
We then jumped as far as possible from the current crisis and Gladys’ amazing leadership throughout, to Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech, and then Julie Bishop’s interview with Andrew Denton.
“Did you watch them? Do you think Australian politics is a boy’s club?”
Quick, let’s try to catch her out again.
And when Gladys tried to reply with a response about not getting into those conversations...about being known, not as a good female Premier, but as a good Premier….Lisa scoffed. SCOFFED.
The following questions were just as irrelevant.
“What time are you getting to bed?”
“Have you got a holiday planned after all this?”
I’m sorry. Are we talking to the woman running the state right now, or are we catching up for a rose’ with our girlfriends? Are we actually going to acknowledge what an amazing job she is doing? Are we going to contribute to our building of the strong female narrative by actually getting her to articulate what her actual work has been during this time?
Or are we going to talk about bed times and holiday plans?
I looked to my daughter, who looked back at me with absolute disgust.
“Why is she doing this? Why is she trying to catch her out and make her look bad?”
I completely agree with Gladys. She shouldn’t be recognised as a good female Premier. She should be recognised for her work as Premier...full stop.
But this was an opportunity.
An opportunity to showcase a strong female leader, who has been making hard decisions. Decisions that she knows aren’t going to keep everyone happy, but need to be made. A strong female leader, who has worked as part of a strong team. Who has listened to the experts, worked with her learned colleagues and has flattened the curve.
This was an opportunity for my 16 year old daughter to see one strong (or so I thought) female, interview another strong female. To see her reach over and recognise the work of another strong leader. To straighten the crown of another woman and say, “We see you.”
What we got was far from it.
Yesterday, I sat and watched the Together at Home concert. I love a good charity concert. You know the ones. It started years ago with Live Aid, and then more recently we had Firefight Australia. They are the ones where musicians unite for a common cause. Where you get a whole selection of your favourite people in one concert. And yesterday, where I sat and blubbered like a baby.
It was the final song. Andrea Bocelli (a long time fav), Celine Dion (All bow down to the queen of belting out an anthem), John Legend (smooth, both to listen to and look at), and Lady Gaga (who I didn't actually recognise at the time!). Together their voices blended into this rich, breathtakingly beautiful rendition of The Prayer, because how else do you end a worldwide concert during a deadly pandemic.
And I sat and cried.
Not just cried. I wept.
My children looked at me like I was mad. But after 21 days at home, I heard that beautiful song and I cracked. And I felt all of the feels. Sad. Worried. Scared. Proud. Moved. Lonely. Joy.
And then I turned off the TV and went and made a cup of coffee. I got on with my day. Within 15 minutes, the kids and I were playing Monopoly (again), my husband was out mowing the lawn and we had all settled back into our happy little bubble of socially distanced bliss.
Because we are one of the lucky ones. We are one of the ones that will come out the other end of this time (touch wood), having been a little bit inconvenienced, but more or less, we’ll be ok.
Because we are one of the lucky ones.
My husband and I can both work from home.
But I see my friends who, instead of a bustling cafe where people are lining up for their morning coffee from 6am everyday, have now had to cut back the hours and days that their cafe is open because the lack of income means they can barely stay afloat.
I see my friend who, within a matter of days, went from a double income family with a handful of kids, to no income and desperately trying to find work in a time when there is none.
I see my friend who is a nurse, and despite having three school aged children at home, is still heading into working everyday. Making that sacrifice in a high risk environment, because she is doing her part.
And then I see us.
Us, who can work from home, still get paid, and come out the other end, whenever that may be, largely unscathed.
It looks different. The way I work looks different. It is different and it may be harder. It might involve a level of flexibility, a different way to how I’ve always done it. But it’s not forever. It’s tricky, and sometimes frustrating. But it’s not forever.
And it’s better than my friend who is struggling to keep his cafe open.
And it’s better than my friend and her husband who literally have lost their source of income.
And it’s better than my friend who is dealing day in and day out wit sick patients in a hospital with Covid 19 cases down the hall.
So I’m done complaining. Life is different, and it’s trickier and it might be harder. But it’s not forever. And if, for this short amount of time, I have to change the way I live my life, the way I work, and the way I raise my family, I will. But I am not going to complain.
Not when I am one of the lucky ones.
To those that are not so lucky. I see you. And I’m making a commitment that, as well as doing all I can to help you out (which may or may not include increasing my daily intake of take away coffee), I promise you that I will stop complaining.
Because I am one of the lucky ones.
How do you put the last few weeks into words? How do you sum up what we have seen, what we are continuing to see, and what we know is still yet to come?
The country is burning. We have had bushfires before. In this country, a burning landscape is not rare. But to this extreme level? Well, scary is an understatement.
This monster that is slowly spreading across the country, is bigger, longer lasting and more overwhelming than anything that we have seen before. The news is showing it non stop. Showing panic, showing desperation and showing anger. Constant statistics about lives lost, houses lost, animals lost, And rightly so….
But, do you know what else they are showing?
They are also showing the fact that so many big businesses are donating 100% of their profits over the next three days to the bushfire appeal, or the RFS, or any one of the many different charities that are helping out at the moment. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!
They are showing the concerts, the auctions and the community events, all to raise funds for those affected, and those that are helping them.
They are showing the Aussie (and international) actors, musicians and sports stars that are donating, leading fundraising efforts (I’m talking to you Celeste Barber), and raising awareness.
They are showing the beautiful stories of everyday people doing everything they can to help our wildlife. They are sharing information on how you can help the wildlife, with water, food and care. Videos of animals being saved and animals being fed. Animals so desperate for water that we have seen koalas, usually so timid that they won’t come near us, climbing up on bicycles to drink from water bottles, holding hands with humans as they drinks from their palms, and curled up in laundry baskets in lounge rooms after being rescued from the flames.
They are showing our defence force evacuating hundreds of scared, tired and confused people. Having run from their homes and property, only to be stranded on the beach. The only safe place, with no other way out.
And most of all, they have shown the thousands of fire fighters, both paid and volunteer. These men and women who have been away from their families for weeks on end. Who encounter situations that most of us can’t even imagine. Who continue, day after day, covered in ash, dirt and sweat. Who do everything in their power to save property after property, house after house, life after life. Who risk their own, to save those of others. Whose wives, husbands and children, kiss them goodbye each time. Sending them off into the very thing that is causing the rest of the country so much fear.
Tonight, I saw a photo of an old friend. A photo of an old friend cuddling his two year old, captioned by a wife who must be stronger than I will ever be. An old friend, who now, is one of those firefighters. Leaving behind his wife, his two boys and heading into everything that the rest of us are running from. During these weeks, I have thought of him often. Thought of his wife. Thought of his children.
And thought of all the others just like him.
A friend recently shared a quote with me, that stated, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
And so that’s what I will continue to do.
Help, and look for those that are helping.
And in doing so, I will smile, and be proud to be a part of this amazing Australian community.
It’s that time of year again. Starting afresh, setting goals, aiming high!
Well, you know what? This year, I’m taking a slightly different approach.
No starting afresh. No setting goals. No aiming high. My resolution in 2020 is to coast. Coast along at the same pace, doing the same stuff, and most of all…..
Just bloody well enjoy what I’ve got!
A close friend, @thenotsotogethermum (Not Another Supermum, and The Not So Together Mum…..you can see why we get on!), posted an Instagram post this morning about being content with what she has. After years of aiming high, working her backside off to build a business, a family, a life, she acknowledged the fact that she has finally convinced herself that what she has, and what she is at this very moment…..is enough.
I’m hearing you sister!
Every year, I spend New Years Eve trying to come up with a really brave, courageous, life changing resolution. I wrack my brain trying to determine the kind of promise to myself (which I never end up keeping anyway), that will raise the bar. Some years it’s deep and self reflective, pushing myself to be a better person. Some years it is threaded with mother guilt, an attempt to alleviate the constant niggle in the back of my head, reminding me to try harder to manage the delicate balance between mothering and working.
Last year, it was about self care. I will take more time out for myself. I will meditate, or go to yoga or do one of the million other hippy things that the internet tells me that, as a working mum, I should be doing to keep myself sane. The irony with this one, was that the constant pressure to take up things in an effort to prioritise self care (or at least what the internet defined as self care) drove me to a new level of guilt and anxiety. Constantly being bombarded by the message that if I didn’t put my own self care first, I would fall in a heap, actually caused me more stress!
In the end, self care for me was to stop worrying about self care!
And so this year, I’m changing my approach.
My New Year’s resolution for 2020 is to…….change nothing.
I am happy with where things are at. I’m happy with my family life. I’m happy with my career. I’m happy with my personal outlets (my alternative name for self care, and which have nothing to do with listening to rainforest sounds and sitting perfectly still - so not for me!).
And so….I am changing nothing! And that’s ok.
I have spent years striving, challenging, moving forward, working out the next step...and ultimately feeling like I am not enough. Proving to everyone around me that I was enough, even though I constantly felt like being enough was always just out of reach.
But now, in 2020 (or close enough to), I look around and have realised that my resolution is not that I think I am enough. It’s more that I think, who cares! I’m happy and my family is happy. This year, let’s just rest in that. Let’s just enjoy being happy, and being ok with exactly where we are. Let’s stop reading the articles that tell us how we should be mothering, ‘teenagering’ (a word? Probs not, but let’s go with it), ‘wifeing’, living, self reflecting, looking after ourselves…...and let’s just live the life we have, enjoy the people we have become and just rest in the everyday world that we have created around ourselves.
So for me, it’s time to stop looking forward.
It’s time to sit here, right now, and just enjoy!
When I first became a teacher, I was bursting at the seams with enthusiasm. Vivacious and ready, straight out of university. I was desperate for my own class, and ready to take on the world.
I still am. I still love the world of education. Love working with kids and teachers. Love the strong, yet unique communities that you find when you step inside each school. I love watching kids learn, discover and play. I love working with teachers, all like minded performing artists, who skillfully navigate their way through the day, engaging kids, loving kids, nurturing kids. Laughing at the hilarious, and often decorated stories of what happened at lunch, or on the weekend, or that morning on the way to school. Teary when they head home, because of the unbreakable connection that means that they don’t stop thinking about the issues and heart breaking stories that they hear when the bell goes at three o’clock. Teachers are a unique species, with no off switch, emotionally bound to each and every child that they teach, often long after they have left that grade and moved on.
And then today, I sat through two award ceremonies. One was for a Year 6 graduation. A grade that I had as Kindergartners. Tiny, timid 5 year olds, in uniforms that nearly reached their ankles and backpacks that were so big they nearly tipped them backwards. Over seven years I watched as they grew, matured, and bounced their way through primary school, until the day came when it was time for them to move on. And then I rushed on to a High School award ceremony at my daughter’s school, where, on top of watching my beautiful girl receive an award for her commitment to Music, I also watched a scattering of past students, now young men and women, being called up onto the stage for a huge variety of reasons. I skimmed the audience, spotting other handfuls of young adults that I had taught along the way. And through both ceremonies, whether I was watching my past students being called up onto the stage, or trying to catch their eye as they sat three rows over, I kept coming back to one thing.
What amazing young people they have become.
In one of those light-bulb moments, sitting among a crowd of parents and guests, I teared up. And as I refused to let the tears spill over, the reason that I became a teacher became all too clear. I was a part of their journey. Not just a journey to achieving academic greatness, or being highly skilled musicians, or being elite little sportsmen and women (not that I would have helped much with that one!). I had been a part of their journey in becoming an amazing person. A well rounded, kind, proud, driven young person.
And isn’t that all we really want. As their teachers, their parents, their mentors....is there anything better than looking at these young people and realising that, as well as the achievements and awards along the way, they have simply turned out to be an amazing kid.
Some will be academic. Some will be musical. Some will absolutely smash it on the soccer field, or the tennis court, or the athletics track. And they will work hard to get there.
As I watched these kids, the Year 6’s that I had taught as little ones, and my daughter’s peers who I had watched from Kinder until now, I just thought to myself…..
What amazing young people they have become.
In education, there are so many things that we can get bogged down in. We spend hours analysing data, reducing our students to numerical statistics, ranking them, reporting on them, assessing them. We spend night after night, analysing their achievement, their skills level, their strengths and weaknesses, and trying to plan learning that will hit the mark, cater for their next steps. And why?….because we are teachers. We want the best for them. We want them to achieve. It’s all part of the job. They are there to learn. But what I didn't expect was the pride that I felt at just how much they had learnt….and it wasn’t all from the curriculum.
In that moment, in a school hall with well over a thousand people looking up at them, it wasn’t their level of academic prowess that made me proud, or their high levels of musical skill.
As each child walked across the stage, I thought to myself….
What amazing young people they have become.
And, as a teacher, what an phenomenal blessing and honour to have played some small part in that.
So, a friend recently introduced me to Arianna Huffington. Well, not literally introduced me, but sometimes it does feel that way! Arianna, was the co-founder and past editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post…..that is, until she changed her focus. And not just her career focus. A change in focus resulted in a massive change in how she was living her life. Her books, her podcast, her newsletters. All of it….SERIOUSLY CHANGING MY LIFE! Her rich Greek accent, her never ending queue of interesting interviewees, and her approach to existing and living, have all completely sucked me in and as a result, have altered small, but influential aspects of my life. From work life balance, to technology use, to the positive effects of prioritising sleep….her podcast and book ‘Thrive’, have become my go to self help book of 2019.
And amongst all of this stands one quote. A quote that hit me like a tonne of bricks. A light bulb moment that has made me take stock. That has made me step back, reflect and now, see each little decision, action and conversation through a different lens.
‘Don’t buy society’s definition of success because it’s not working for anyone.’
What’s she talking about? What is society’s definition of success? And I realised, we have created a definition of success that is measured in a never-ending upward movement. Climbing the career ladder, raising our salaries, getting a bigger, better more expensive house, getting a bigger, better more expensive car, higher test scores, higher ATAR, higher reading level. It doesn’t matter what age we are. The way society measures how successful you are, depends on how far up any particular scale you sit.
Society’s definition of success if not working for anyone.
And I’ll tell you why.
Because it’s bloody stressful! What good is climbing the career ladder, and working your way through a series of positions, each one more demanding and stressful than the other? What good is this, if you are not happy? What success are you actually achieving if you get home each night, too exhausted to enjoy your children, too stressed to snuggle with your partner, or too overworked to be able to put away the laptop? If your day to day living is burning you out and putting you in this perpetual state of busy, that we all seem to think is a badge of honour, should we really be considered successful?
And so I ask you…..
What difference would it make to the world if instead of measuring success by positions on a career ladder, by dollars, by ATAR scores and by reading levels….
We measured it in joy? In happiness? In engagement? And in enthusiasm?
What would happen to the world, if you weren’t aiming for the top, but were aiming for joy?
What would happen to the workforce, if we were all in jobs that we loved? Where instead of aiming for the next promotion, that came hand in hand with the next payrise, and the next level of stress…..we instead just aimed for the job that we loved. That we got up every morning eager for and energised by. And what if society saw that as being successful?
What would happen to education, if we measured children’s success by how much they loved learning? How much they were motivated to learn, and how much joy they experienced through being at school, through learning and through the relationships that they developed, nurtured and cultivated whilst there? Our children have the world at their fingertips. Instead of measuring how well they remember a fact or a piece of knowledge with a test score, what would happen if we saw success in how eager they were to find it out for themselves, and how excited they were when they did?
What would happen to our perception of the world if we saw the guy who works at the coffee shop and loves chatting with his regulars every morning, asking about their lives, their kids, and their families, as being just as successful as the city lawyer who loves his job. What if their success wasn’t measured by their differences in income? What if we just saw two guys who love their work and were happy in what they do. And are therefore ...successful? Surely it can be both. Surely, if both guys love what they do, experience joy and happiness in their work and life, then surely both guys are as successful as each other?
Society’s definition of success is not working for anyone. But aren’t we society? Aren’t we the ones who have the change the perception? What good is a massive salary if you are too stressed out to enjoy it? What good is an off the charts reading level in Kindergarten, if your child hates to read?
I’m keen. I’m excited by what could happen in our world if we changed the way we perceive success. If we all took a good look at what brings us joy, what enriches and enthuses us, and measured our success in life by how much space we dare to let those things take up. I just wonder what it could do.
When I was twenty, my boyfriend (now husband of 14 years) and I fell pregnant. We were in our third year of university, living on campus and living the uni life.
Our lives changed then and there…..and in the most incredible way.
The phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child” was never more true than in those months leading up to, and after the birth of our beautiful girl. As a young couple, still at uni, determined to finish our degrees, the number of people that wrapped themselves around us and helped us in that time, was phenomenal.
There was the uni friend, who after our girl was born, would work all day as a casual teacher and then turn up on my door step, ready to babysit so that I could get to my next lecture.
There was the lecturer, who let my 4 month old baby sleep in a capsule under her desk, while I worked on a group assignment (Urgh! Remember those!).
There was the nun! Who was the head of my college, and did everything in her power to ensure that I stayed at uni and finished my degree. Who bought us a port-a-cot when we couldn’t afford one, and who just gave me a hug when I was a scared, pregnant, uni student, feeling overwhelmed at the thought of what the future was going to look like.
They were my village. Now, as a 38 year old mum, forging forward in my career, my family, and just life in general, I look back at my village and could not be more grateful.
But you know what is even more amazing?
Tonight, I posted the pictures from that little bubba’s Year 10 formal. I put two gorgeous photos up on Facebook. My beautiful baby, now 16, dressed in a gorgeously classy pale pink dress and nude heels. Looking every part the young woman, on the precipice of her own future….and that village re-appeared.
The friend who used to babysit.
The village re-appeared. Comments that wrapped around her, supported her, celebrated the amazing young woman she has become.
The village is bigger. The village is stronger. Most with their own babies, their own marriages, their own lives.
But still there.
In the background, cheering us on. Supporting my girl, and celebrating the gorgeous young woman she has become.
They were my team then. And they are my team now.
It definitely does take a village to raise a child….and I honestly believe that mine is the most amazing one of all.
As we wind up one school year, and move into the next, I have once again hit the same January realisation that I always do. That the beautiful little souls that I spent more time with in 2018 than my own children, are moving on. In a few weeks they will begin Year 2, and Mrs Ismay and Year 1 will be a distant memory. They will be busy learning the next section of the curriculum, making new friends, developing relationships with new teachers and so on and so forth, until in the blink of an eye they will be graduating Year Six, and some, I will never see again. It’s hard, as a teacher, to say goodbye to your kids every year. Kids that you are so invested in, kids that you care for, kids that you love.
And then will come the time, as has happened just this week, when as past students, they will stop you in the street. They will be so tall that you barely recognise them. The boys will be men and the girls will be confident, strong young women, and they will take you straight back to the year that they spent with you. They will share all of the things that they remember, all of the funny things that you used to say and do, the songs you used to sing and the dances you used to dance. They will remember how you spent your whole lunch break with them because they couldn’t find their friends. They will remember how you gave them a hug, and wiped their tears when their friends were being mean. They will remember how you spent your prep time in the mornings meeting their car at the drop off zone because they were too nervous to try and do it alone.
You may or may not be a teacher. You may or may not have children. But you did go to school. And so you know. You get what it is that makes teachers so important in our children’s lives. School teachers, soccer coaches, dance teachers, swimming teachers.
The good ones are all the same.
What’s in a teacher?
They care, they are invested and they see your child. No matter how quiet, loud, boisterous or calm. No matter whether they excel in whatever it is….school, dance, soccer…..or whether they need that extra support, encouragement or a different approach. A good teacher sees your child.
As a working mother, one of my favourite sayings has always been, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’
And man, do we have a village!
My parents that help us out with drop offs and pick ups, with babysitting and with just giving us a break.
My friends, who always seem to sense when one of us in near breaking point and step in to lend a hand (or pass the wine!).
My neighbours, the parents of my kids’ friends, my siblings….They have all become part of this crazy parenting village.
But at this time of year, with the same realisation that I have every year, I have also realised that the teachers in our life have also become a very strong part of that village.
It was my son’s classroom teacher last year, who always seemed to know what to say and do to calm my, and his, anxiety. He learnt so much last year, and not just from the curriculum.
It was my daughter’s dance teachers, who were such a strong presence throughout one of the hardest years of her life. Major spinal surgery (that’s a blog for another day!) on a 15 year old ballerina is life changing, and the amazing, strong, determined young woman that has emerged on the other side is not just the result of the support that she received from her family. It also came from the teachers in her life that were invested in her, not only as a dancer, but her as a 15 year old girl who needed their love, support and strength.
I like to feel that I have a big impact on the amazing young people that my children are becoming. I like to think that my husband and I are doing a kick arse job at raising these kids. But the truth is, it’s not just us. The teachers in their lives need to be given their credit in this too.
It’s so important to surround our children with amazing people. People who mentor them, who they look up to. People who are not their parents but love them and care for them like they are.
People like teachers.
I love Michelle Obama. I love everything about her. Her class, her style, her confidence, her strength…..and I have spent the majority of these school holidays reading her autobiography, ‘Becoming’. I adore these holidays. The family, the massive Christmas lunches, the beach. But most of all, I love the available hours while the kids are watching Netflix or swimming, to lay on the lounge and read. I always put aside one or two books to devour. And this year, it’s been a fabulous and intriguing insight into the life of this ridiculously inspiring woman.
I have devoured every page, and now feel like we are best friends. I know her parents, her children, her husband and her friends. I cried when her father passed away, I laughed when she stumbled awkwardly through her high school years, and I smiled at the intimate and heartwarming family moments that she shared.
But then tonight, I had a moment. A moment where I looked at my husband and, not for the first time, let loose with my slightly (but sometimes not so slightly) feminist frustrations and questioning.
You see, at so many points in this amazing book, Mrs Obama refers to the ‘working mother’. Whether it’s her, or her friends, or her mentors, she talks fairly consistently about the role of a working mother. She refers to her friends and their struggles with the balance between motherhood and career, or the fact that her mentors had to work so hard to build or sustain their careers, all the while trying to raise their children, free of guilt and judgment.
I am now probably four fifths of the way through this great read, and all of a sudden it hit me. And I turned to my poor husband (who cops my equality rants a bit) and asked,
“Why doesn’t anyone ever refer to the father as a ‘working dad?”
This had never occurred to me before! And in reading this phenomenal life story, it suddenly hit me. This woman was married to a man who, when both of his children were school aged, became possibly the busiest man on the planet, heaped with the biggest responsibility of arguably any other human on Earth, and yet, not once is he referred to as a ‘working father.’ He has the same two girls, the same responsibilities as a parent, and yet, even with the extremely heavy workload that he took on, the hours that he would have been doing, not once in the entire book, or anywhere in the media has he ever been referred to as a ‘working father.’
I get it.
I get that initially, it has to be the mother. I have two of my own. I grew them, I birthed them, I fed them and I love them more than anything in this world. But with both, I made the choice to return to work (or uni with my eldest!), when I felt that both of us were ready. I was never one to be able to handle being at home full time. I wish I was, and I am jealous of those that could, but it wasn’t for me. And when I did, whether it was returning to uni to complete my degree, or to teaching after the birth my second bub, the main discussion that people, especially women raised with me, was the balance between career and being a working mum. But not once, NOT ONCE, did anyone ever refer to my husband as a working dad. Not once did they ask how he was managing the balance. That was on me. It was my responsibility to balance career and children. Not once did that responsibility ever fall on my husband. Just as it didn’t for Barack. My husband’s response to this was to state how alike he is to Barack Obama…..(eye roll*), but he too agreed that it had never really even been an option. That he would have loved some time at home with the kids when they were little, but being the dad, just felt like this wasn't the way things were done.
I can’t help but imagine how different our society would be if the mentality towards this was slightly altered. What if, after the growing and the birthing and the feeding was done, if the mum felt that both she and toddler were ready, what if it was widely accepted that the father had the option, if it was even encouraged, to go part time to allow the mother to continue to build her own career.
It was just a turn of phrase. A label that we hear every day. But in this moment, it was also another lightbulb moment, of why things are just that little bit harder when you’re the woman. There has been a few of those lately, and frankly, it’s starting to irk me.
Sometimes we need to just think further outside the square of what we can do for women to close the gap. Sometimes it’s about what we can do for those around her.
I am a teacher.
And I love it.
I love the thrill of seeing one of my students have that lightbulb moment, even though I have spent hour upon hour trying to work out how to differentiate the lesson for that to happen.
I love the emails of thanks from parents who appreciate that I go above and beyond for their children, even though the email before was a complaint about the fact that another parent’s son is not in the top reading group.
I love the connection and relationship that I form with students and their families, even though sometimes the connection and relationship means that I care too much.
I love being a teacher, even though it’s bloody hard work.
But I am an Australian teacher. A lucky Australian teacher. And to my American colleagues, I watch on in wonder and respect.
I don’t have to worry about protecting my students.
I don’t have to worry about gun violence and school shootings.
I don’t have to worry about a proposal to arm me because my job is becoming so high risk.
And so, as an Australian teacher, I have a request to your president.
I would like to ask him to step away from the limelight for just a second. Step away from the limelight and into his home. Look at his little boy.
Look at his little boy and imagine that it was him that was hiding in a school closet, with a teacher so brave that she was willing to put the lives of her students ahead of her own.
Look at his little boy and imagine that it was his school, his cafeteria, his library that was being rampaged by a fellow teen…..with a gun.
Look at his little boy and imagine that it was his friends who didn’t make it home, his teachers who didn’t make it home, or, as heartbreaking as it is to say, him that didn’t make it home.
Imagine the fear, the loss, the heart-ache, the pain.
And then tell his little boy that nothing needs to change.
Hmmmm, I didn’t think so.