Dear Mrs Lewis
Today is Saturday. It is the first day of the Summer holidays. It’s is 4.30 in the afternoon.
I am exhausted.
I spend every Saturday and Sunday with my little girl and, whilst it is always tiring, it’s never quite this level of exhausting. Perhaps she is needing more input because she’s end of term tired, perhaps the sun and heat is making everything more tiring anyway. Perhaps the realisation that I won’t have the sanctuary of nursery school to deposit my little angel at for six whole weeks is really dawning on me. Whatever it is, I am truly exhausted.
Miss Rose is a handful. You know that. She’s smart, she’s busy, she’s opinionated and she’s articulate. She loves attention, she thrives on it, and finds stimulation from adults to be intoxicating. She loves to be challenged and she loves to challenge others. She loves to learn. Under your guidance she has discovered this little world where she is surrounded by peers to play with and learn with, and adults that give her the challenges and learning experiences she needs to be happy. And today it dawned on me that for the next six weeks it is my job to provide that.
We had a wonderful day today. The best we’ve had in a while. We played with blocks. We categorised pictures by animal, vegetable or mineral. We did colouring and drawing. We played with the outdoor toys and then busied ourselves doing some gardening. We went to the supermarket, we watched movies, we ate food. She was fun, she was interested in everything and she behaved beautifully.
We ended her first day of the summer holidays cuddled up together watching Labyrinth whilst I breastfed the baby, and she fell asleep right next to me cuddled into my arm. After several nights of naughty behaviour at bedtime, and several days where she has driven me mad with threenager style strops, to have the day end like that was perfect, it was beautiful, and it made me quite emotional.
I love my daughter. I love her company, I love watching her learn and grow, and I’m so very blessed that I have been able to be at home with her in the day watching her develop into the little person she is now. But I’m not enough for her. I don’t have the energy. I don’t have the patience. I have too many other things I need to be doing.
As well as parenting a new born and keeping my house and garden vaguely maintained (accepting that even when I don’t have a baby constantly needing a boob in her mouth or her bum cleaning I’m not the most avid housekeeper), my job could so easily be a full time job. I do it any time I get a chance. I write in fits and starts (I’ve done this short blog in bits over the last two hours), work on the website and the promotion when I get a chance. I’ve not done half of the things I need to get done during this week even though she’s had three hours of nursery school a day. It feels like I need to be a full time mother and a full time writer and a full time house keeper. And I can’t. So I give shoddy levels of attention to all three.
Mrs Lewis, the time you take my daughter and give her the attention, stimulation, challenges and affection she needs gives me a chance to breathe. I get to put away the ever growing mound of laundry or I get to work on my latest book. Or, as has been the case several times since the arrival of Baby B three weeks ago, I get to simply sit on the sofa with my boob out and the TV on whilst I recover some of my lost energy. You save my life daily, and you improve hers even more so. My time with my daughter is perfected by her time with you. We enjoy one another’s company so much more because of the time apart.
And do you know what’s striking? You, and teachers everywhere, do it at the expense of time with your own children. You give up beautiful days with your little ones and spend them with mine. I get mornings every day with Miss Rose, mornings that I love. We get to do jobs and play, and by the time she’s ready for something more, it’s time to go to school and get that something more from you. What are you doing whilst I’m playing Legos or watching My Little Pony with my child? You’re teaching other people’s children. And when the morning children go home, you’re not going home to your children, you’re teaching mine.
The six weeks looms ahead. I won’t do as good a job as you, Mrs Lewis. I just won’t. I can’t. I am going to be returning her to you having lost so much of the knowledge you’ve gifted her with, and probably full of so much energy that you’ll be running round in small circles just trying to keep up with her.
And do you know what? I’m worried. I’m worried that the pleasure I get from our time together will be diminished by the lack of time apart. I’m worried that we’ve both come to rely on those three hours she spends with you so much that we will get frustrated with each other and start to not enjoy each other.
But you know what else? I see my teacher friends joyous at the chance to spend time with their little ones. Be they tiny like Baby B, small like Miss Rose, or big high school kids. Teachers everywhere are finally getting the chance at time with their children like I get with mine and take for granted. The nights you put into marking and lesson planning, studying and filling out paperwork, will now be spent snuggled up on the sofa watching Labyrinth until your child falls asleep in your arms. The mornings you spend rushing to get to pre-school club will be spent watching My Little Pony and scrambling eggs.
People think teachers get an easy ride. People are, quite frankly, idiots. I do not begrudge you these six weeks because you deserve them. I do not consider you a slacker because I sometimes struggle with one let alone a classroom full.
When the six weeks holiday is over and my little girl is back in her uniform, and 12.25 arrives, and I wave goodbye to her through the classroom window, I will feel a mixture of joy and sadness. I adore my daughter more than I can possibly explain, and time with her is something I am incredibly lucky to get. But, my goodness, time away from her keeps me sane. I give it three weeks before we’re both losing our minds just a little bit.
So thank you Mrs Lewis. Thank you for everything you do for Miss Rose, and thank you for everything you do for me. And in six weeks time I shall return my daughter to your trusted care, return home, and sink into the sofa with a huge bar of chocolate and an incredibly guilty sigh of relief.
Love from Me, that mum who sometimes apologises to you then pegs it before you spot the horns sprouting from my daughter’s head and change your mind about your career choice x