Thursday, September 1, 2011

They just don't get it...

I make no secret of the fact that I want a permanent teaching gig at the kids’ school.
I changed career a couple of years ago so that I could spend more time with my kids, and my aim has always been to work in a primary school, preferably the same one that the kids attend.
But those jobs are hard to come by.
So I took a position teaching maths and science at a high school just out of the local area. I’d done exactly one day on trial and the day I started my official new job there was the day Greg died.
The flashbacks to that day are etched into my mind: the text book I had to use using car crash analogies to teach speed and acceleration; the kids who were beautiful; the exact line on the concrete I was standing on when the principal came to find me and tell me that I needed to drive home Very Carefully now...
There was no way I could go back to that school.
A few days after Greg's funeral, a very kind person at my children’s primary school could see my problem and offered me a part-time, temporary position at their school to “help me get back into the swing of things”.
I am still doing this job almost 18 months later. (Two weeks shy of 18 months to be exact: Greg died 18 months ago today).
Partly because it suits me, partly because this particular person at school recognised my value and is doing everything in her power to keep me employed there.
She gets it.
At a recent meeting, my current boss asked the department to keep me: he knows I’m valuable and this is why he wants to keep me. It has nothing to do with my marital status.
He doesn't really get it.

I asked the department to keep me, explaining very clearly both my worth as a teacher (topped my year, highest possible ranking, maths-science background which is sadly lacking from most teacher’s repertoires); and the fact that my husband is buried in a nearby cemetery and nothing will move me or the kids away from him and our support network.
...and within a week of the meeting with departmental officers, I had the offer of a permanent position.... the other end of the State.
2000 km away.
I asked the departmental officer whether there was a footnote on my file explaining my compelling reasons not to do country service [i]and she said:
“Yes, but we thought you might like a permanent job and a change of scenery”
I’ve not yet quite got my feet under me properly, the kids are fragile and cling to everything familiar and the department thinks I might enjoy a major life change????
They just don’t get it at all.
(Thankfully, my psychologist DOES get it and has written a strongly worded letter saying that the kids and I need to stay put for the foreseeable future).

[i] All teachers in Queensland are required to work in regional areas for at least part of their working life. I maintain that I have already done this (for another government department) and know that it would kill me to go away from my home again.


  1. I know what you mean by not getting it.My co-worker at the school I work at were supportive when my husband was sick and died.But then the new administrator came, and has moved me every year since he died. All I want is to to stay put, to be doing something familiar and stable. Yet,every year I am required to learn a new grade level and a new teacher.He doesn't get it!

  2. I am angry on your behalf! I find it ironic that a school, which should have the best interests of the children as there primary goal, and be supportive of their teachers, would not show any compassion. Although we live in different countries, I have been shocked at the way widowed persons are treated in society. There was a time where widowed persons were held in high esteem, and others would come forward to offer help wherever needed. No more. Now the attitude is to grieve briefly, move on and get it over with, and take your place back in society and do what you're supposed to, no pass for you. My child is grown, but I also find that single parents are not given any compassion, either. When did our world become so crass? Your reasons for not wanting to uproot your family are more than valid, and I'm sorry that you are being subject to this, at a time when you are trying to keep your head above water and probably don't have much energy to fight. I will pray for you!

  3. How frustrating this all must be. I too just passed 18 months and couldn't imagine a huge life change like moving 2000 km away! I will envision you with a full time job in your own community and hope that it can help in any small way.

  4. Yes, it is truly unfair and does make us angry. I am also 18 months out and am tired of having everyone, including my family, strongly suggest I sell my house and settle for something smaller and more manageable. I am not ready for that. It is a huge life change.

    I very much agree with Anon that widows don't seem to get any breaks. I consider widows to be emotionally handicapped. We have to adopt to being one when we were so used to being two.

    I am so sorry for you and wish you the best in finding the perfect job close to your familiar setting.

  5. I am speechless... And so sad for you. I wish I could reach out and hug you and slap the crap out of the idiots who think they are doing right by you. I'm sure they are patting themselves on the back. Idiots!

  6. I've got to tell you I so agree with "anonymous" above. Widows are treated like CRAP in general. I'm sick of being someone with absolutely zero status. Doesn't matter who I am or what I've accomplished as a person, now that I am a woman alone I been made to feel as though I am the lowliest person on this planet. My widowed friend went on an expensive trip after her husband died. They threw her an 2 other widows together in the worst rooms etc., just expecting them to shut up and take it. "Do you three MIND if we put you all together? There was a mix up with the room".