I’m a feminist.
I’m a working mum, determined to break into the “Boy’s Club” that has historically been the trend in educational leadership. I grew up in a school that was dominated by female teachers yet male leaders. When I started teaching, I set myself a goal to break that long standing tradition.
My first principal as a graduate teacher, was a female. Not just any female. An inspirational, break down the barriers, girl power female. Full of class. Quiet and diplomatic. Yet strong, brave and working hard to eradicate the long standing male principal mould. And a superb role model for this young, determined working mum, bent on showing her daughter that, as a woman and as a mum (no matter your age), you can have it all.
After seven years of classroom teaching, from snotty nosed 5 years olds, all the way up to stinky, pre pubescent Year 6 kids, my last two years have been spent out of the classroom in leadership contracts. And I now find myself in a situation where I can apply for the longer term contract of my current role as Assistant Principal.
Yep, I made it. The feminist inside me is proud, excited and determined. And you know what…..
I’m not going to apply.
It’s important to me to break those moulds. It’s important to me to demolish those stereotypes. It’s important to me to reach the goals that I set for myself as a graduate teacher.
Just not right now.
Trust me, I have struggled with this decision. I'm sure my husband, mum, sister and friends are all very OVER the discussion that I have had over and over and over again. I think my friend is actually avoiding my calls at the moment. I’m sure she sees my number pop up and, as she doesn’t have a spare two hours to listen to me go back and forth, “Should I? Shouldn’t I?”, stuffs the phone under the lounge cushion and pretends not to hear it!
I have struggled because, my determination says otherwise. It tells me that as a woman, I can squash that stereotype. I can work full time, and I can work full time in whatever job I want. It tells me that being a mum doesn’t have to mean that I give up my own aspirations and beliefs about equality and women in leadership.
It tells me that I am allowed to want it all.
But here’s my dilemma……
I have realised, that at this point in my life, I don’t.
I can’t be the mum I want to be and the leader I want to be, all at the same time. I can’t be there for my daughter. My poor daughter who is about to enter High School (Urgh, remember those years) and needs a mum who doesn’t have to juggle big commitments at school with her well being. I can’t be there for my son who…..well, who knows where that one will go! He is 6. 6, quirky and an amazing little individual, who needs a mum that is available for whatever life throws at him.
I really have enjoyed this job. I would like it again down the track, if that’s what life has in store. I am learning so much as a leader, an educator, a parent and a colleague.
But this time in my life, these kids, this age won’t come again.
I will still teach, I will still get to love my job. I will still get to enrich little minds and get fulfillment from teaching. My alternative is a pretty good one.
I am still the same 'break through the glass ceiling' feminist I have always been. I still think I can have it all.
I just get to choose when.