Madeleine Fresko-Brown (@M_X_F) explores some of the questions she grappled with before going on maternity leave from her role as induction tutor, English teacher and teacher coach.
“When we have laughed to see the sails conceive
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;” – Titania, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Before I embarked on maternity leave, I had a lot of questions. Of course the usual questions about parenthood – what would labour be like? What would my baby be like? What would I be like as a mother? But this blog isn’t about that – it’s about the questions I had surrounding my engagement with work and ‘worky things’, or as I have come to understand it now, CPD.
I encountered The MTPTproject on twitter, and was impressed and energised by what Emma was doing, so my first questions surrounded what exciting things I could do with my maternity leave. I’ve only ever worked in one school, which is also where I trained (with Teach First), so could I visit other schools? Would they let me bring baby in a sling? Could I blog about it? Perhaps a blog called ‘what makes a great school?’ Could I shadow senior leaders and help build my understanding of what being a senior leader involves? Could I apply for senior leadership positions? I had applied to a few unsuccessfully the year before, so why let a baby stop me trying again this year? Could I go back to work in September (baby due in February) and my partner take his shared parental leave?
But then people started telling me I was crazy and the doubts started to set in… Would schools even let me bring baby with me? Would they be happy for me to blog about them? Would I be too tired? Baby too demanding? Would I regret spending even a minute thinking about work on my precious maternity leave? Would I ‘have the head’ to apply for roles or get the infamous ‘baby brain?’ Would I regret ‘giving’ half of my leave to my partner (other people’s words)? Maybe I’d regret going for and getting a promotion if it meant I ended up working longer hours and spending less time with the baby? Maybe life is long and I should just slow down and chill out?
And then the voice of feminist concern started to say its piece: won’t I be contributing to the gender pay gap if I accept a slowing down of my career? Why should I get 12 months with my baby and my partner get nothing/2 weeks? But his pay is slightly more than mine, so we’d be taking a financial hit for him to stop and me to go back… oh but that’s the whole feminist problem… oh my maternity knickers were really getting in a twist!
I spoke to various people about these unanswerable questions and concluded very little indeed, or more accurately that I should ‘wait and see’ what motherhood was like as apparently ‘priorities change.’ If you are considering or have considered similar questions or different ones while building your family, please do share your thoughts in the comments or Tweet about them (@maternityCPD/ #MTPTproject)
As it turned out, I got a lot of my answers quite quickly after starting leave, but that will have to wait for the next blog post…