As we reach the end of another break from the chaos of balancing school life with family, and as I face my final four weeks of training, I wanted to acknowledge the secret to my (almost) success, of which there really is no mystery!
I remember the day I was made redundant by my employer: I had previously been told I was safe, which my wife and I greeted with some relief as she was five months pregnant. However, a few days later I was called back from a supplier meeting and ordered into a meeting with the Sales and HR directors to receive my ‘cards’. This sledgehammer of news was not the worst of the day as later I received a call to say that my wife had been taken to hospital following a fall. Thankfully, following a thorough assessment, both wife and baby were ‘cleared for action’ and we returned home, after the evening’s tribulations, my announcement became insignificant and fazed neither of us.
My decision to change career didn’t occur immediately, a number of failed applications, a particularly memorable and disastrous selection day and the lack of opportunities were all contributing factors but I continued searching. Whilst scouring a dwindling employment market I began to volunteer at a local infant school and realised I was quite good at it, but most of all thoroughly enjoyed it.
Enter my wife, realising that I had found professional happiness, very much at the expense of a significant income, she not only supported me in my endeavours as a Teaching Assistant, but actively encouraged me to take employment at the school despite going on maternity leave to deliver our first child. The hours were short, the salary was limited, but as we watched a new life enter the world our house was filled with exponential joy!
I don’t remember how the next chapter came about but as my wife returned from maternity leave, she agreed to return to work full-time in order to support me through three years of part-time university study and delegate ‘home-maker’ responsibility to me on days that I wasn’t at school (thankfully my parents could help here too). I find it hard to describe the guilt I have always felt that my wife did not get to play the key caregiver to my son and so I always tried to ensure that she could enjoy unadulterated ‘mummy time’ when and wherever possible.
During the past five years (3 years completing my degree, a 1-year gap and my current Schools Direct year), my wife has played proof reader, teaching advice giver, moral and emotional councillor, mother, wife and best friend. We have since had a second child, a daughter, and she now only works four days a week to my five, and so playing a more active role in raising our children but still, she continues to work and take on additional responsibilities and tutoring opportunities just to provide for the family, to support me in pursuing a dream.
There are times that the financial struggles we face, which are similar to the same struggles all young families face, drag us down but it is always my wife who remains positive and drags the four of us through the challenges families are presented with. However, it is days and weeks like this week when, as a family, we enjoy great times, when we realise how every challenge, tear or pang of guilt can be quashed by the elation of family time. Be it a walk along the canal or a cheeky meal out at a cheap and cheerful pub chain using saved vouchers, the holidays remind us why the sacrifices we, especially my wife, have made were not in vain. The greatest affirmation however was today, over lunch, when my wife told me that the thing she is most proud of is my determination and drive to make this career change but without her, I could never have achieved this, without her I couldn’t have made her proud and without her I wouldn’t be the father of two amazing children. So behind my (almost) success, there is one amazing woman, my amazing teacher wife (known hereinafter as ATW).