EEmily Pringle (@EHP89), History Teacher and The MTPT Project’s Lincolnshire Representative explores her identity as a mother-teacher, and the opportunities to be grasped as she continues to progress as a teacher.
As I enter my mid 30s and (I think) the end of our baby years, I am finding that I have more of a yearning to discover the ‘other’. By this I mean who I am outside of ‘mother’. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love being a mum but sometimes it is so all consuming especially those first years where the small person seems more of an extension of self than a separate entity. Mothering has been something that has made me feel complete and at the same time completely absorbed. The minutiae of the daily ups and downs, both theirs and mine, can make it difficult to lift your head and look around to see the big picture, to catch a glimpse of the ‘other’ you once were as you become ‘mother’. All thoughts revolve around their needs, their growth, their demands, supporting them to be the best, to protect them and have them grow up happy and safe. It’s tiring and all-consuming especially navigating work, relationships, a home all alongside parenting.
Thoughts for myself have been fleeting, carved out in quiet moments of reflection with a coffee, a few minutes to read a blog or chapter or think about that scheme of work or lesson, do some yoga, sit and be or think about my own hopes and dreams. I initially found some space in my second maternity leave (when I was blessed with a child who napped), where I discovered educational reading and sparked an interest in teaching and learning. This was the start of a journey which has led me to today, where I have found enough space in that daily consumption, within that balance, to complete an NPQ in Leading Teacher Development. This has felt like a big step but a step that has opened more possibilities – what can I do with that time when this course finishes in October? There is some potential there to develop the ‘other’ whilst being mother.
I watch my smallest grow and become a very independent and sassy young lady, I see her growing up and away, more eager to stretch that invisible string, more confident in those faltering runs and her own opinions. Then comes my middle child, always independent and now coming to the end of his first year at school where he has physically stretched and mentally found his feet. This extends to my eldest, having turned 7 and so worldly wise (or so he thinks), taking such great care of his siblings and again stretching up and away with new interests, bigger bikes and improving conversation. This all fills me full of joy and pride but also a tiny chink of possibility opening, an opportunity to be more ‘other’, to find out who that ‘other’ is, the other side of starting our family.
I feel both different and the same. This year has been one of self-discovery. An unexpected opportunity at work made me reflect on what I did pre-babies and I had forgotten that woman, that capable young women who was the head of a year group, lead a team of tutors and had confidence. Rewriting my personal statement brought this back and I went from thinking ‘I’ll never get this’ to ‘I am actually capable’. This was something of a revelation as for the last 7 years, I have focused on mothering and although I have ‘led quietly’ at work, supporting the work of teaching and learning within the school, I never saw myself as a ‘leader’ again. I stepped down from middle leadership to take my current job and then dropped to 0.8 and reflecting, these have all been sacrifices that were well worth it but that pushed the mother side up, chipping away at the ‘other’.
That opportunity did not work out, but it has led to me think deeply and ask for what I want. This is in no small part thanks to the coaching opportunities I have been fortunate to access through the MTPT Project. These have been enlightening, helping me to reveal parts of myself or realise potential, giving me the tools I needed to find that balance, to be there for my family but also to find time for me, to reflect on my own hopes and dreams. The connections I have made through the group coaching and through being a MTPT advocate have helped to build a network of strong parent teachers who can be relied upon for sympathy, advice or even networking. As a result of these connections and coaching I have pursued other opportunities, recognising my worth and actively looking to further myself. Whether these opportunities will work out is yet to be seen but I can see that glimmer, I can see who I can be both as ‘mother’ and ‘other’ and I am excited to explore this further.
Emily hosts a WhatsApp group and organises local meet ups for MTPT Project community members in Lincolnshire. Get in touch to be added to her group.