So, back at work. Well, “work lite”, as it is a non teaching period and the place is like a ghost town.
And let’s face it ,needing to work for a living sucks.
But there’s some things I like.
1. the stationery cabinet
I love stationery. I love free access to stationery. I love all the little books and pens and notepads and diaries and folders and…..ah, being back at work, which has been through round after round of severe budget cuts, for some reason the stationery cupboard has improved in my absence.
I open those doors and I’m like a kid in a candy store.
2. help desks
Help! I’m a stupid woman who can’t work her computer! What. You’ll come and take it away and fix it? You’ll configure it for me? I think I love you.
There are people that do stuff. And I never thought I would say this about my workplace. But there are.
“This doesn’t work!”
“Call john, he can fix that.”
“Hello john? This doesn’t work.”
“No problem. Let me just fix that for you. Anything else I can help you with?”
You never have a help desk as a parent. It is all up to you. You’re the specialist in all the things. The catering, the clothing, the first aid, the technology, the books, the music, the learning…all the things.
3. That little bit of ice
This is the thing I hate the most, as well as what I love.
When I drop jman, or should I say when screaming jman is prised out of my weeping arms of a morning, it is like I’ve swallowed a lump of ice. It sits, uncomfortably in my throat, and I wonder how we will live like this, how will we do this, day after day after day.
Seven minutes later I still have mascara running down my face in the traffic, as BigGayAl* texts me a photo of a happy, playing boy. And the lump sits there, and gets worse then better then worse, all day. Until we approach pick up, and I feel it defrost, that lightening, like I can breathe more easily. And he sees me, and he lights up. That is the best moment of my day. And he shows me all that he’s been playing with, and the books he’s read, and we stay and play for a while at BigGayAl’s, and he gives off this happy relaxed vibe, and the lump is gone.
That feeling, it’s like weightlessness.
4. grown ups
I have written emails in grown up talk this week. I’ve looked at a problem and realised it isn’t manageable in its current form and asked other people’s advice. I’ve had several grown up conversations a day. That are not about nappies, teething, vocabulary or sleep. in fact, I think I’ve had the equivalent of four months of grown up conversations in two days. I love it. Though it’s tiring. I love it.
And I hear myself speaking and go woah! She’s cool. She knows stuff. Who’s she again?
5. My name
When I got married four years ago, I changed everything into my married name. Except work. Professionally, I’m still my maiden name.
So when I’m back at work, there really is a whole other person waiting here for me to wear. And it’s cool.
6. Office politics
I love hearing people talk passionately about things going on around here. But at least for the moment, I just let most of it slide right off.
I used to care about all the things at work. All the time. it was exhausting.
I still intend to do a bloody good job.
But there’s a real freedom and a shift in perspective when you know, in your gut, your priorities are elsewhere. In fact, I think it makes it easier to prioritise stuff at work, when I’m not so emotionally involved with it.
It’s early days yet, but it’s a good feeling. I also passes a group of students in a courtyard today, when I was on my way to get a coffee. Like a grown up. And they were passionately debating something they were learning, and I thought yep. I’m a part of that. And i like it.
7. The grounds
The grounds where I work are beautiful. Wide expanses of lawn, my office in a heritage listed building ( albeit former mental institution ), trees bending down low to the ground with ancient branches, the river, flowering gums. I walk around and think about jman visiting here, what he’d make of the stretches of grass and noisy long corridors.
8. The people
I’ve been here since, what? 2008? And I like these people. Mostly. Even the ones I don’t like now seem like a harmless eccentric uncle. They are a unique bunch. We’ve been through quite a lot, and they were with me through planning our wedding, through two overseas trips, IVF…hell, the lady in the coffee shop remembered me and asked where I’d been!
9. The journey
When I walk the corridors, I meet my old self. When I take down 2011 planners from my dusty office wall, I see red texta coded notes like “EC”( egg collection) and “ET” (embryo transfer), and I think about the days before jman existed, when he was just an idea.
I think about open day, early 2012, when I let a couple of people in on the very early bun in the oven secret, before I went on annual leave and then never came back, not knowing at the time the total shitstorm that was waiting for us.
I walk the corridors and I do things on instinct, on muscle memory, and I’m surprised at my competence. I’m analysing an issue and I’m surprised at what is coming out of my mouth without seeming to pass through my head first. I’m good at something.
And I know the tides of imposter syndrome will turn and me and my mummy brain will at some points barely keep my chin above the drowning waters of panic during semester, but at the moment in the calm before the storm, I feel, well, ok.
And layered on top of this is family history. You see, I drive in past the sweep of jacarandas, and I know in all likelihood my Grandfather planted them. He was a greenskeeper come mental health nurse when this was a mental institution, and my mother used to come on weekends to play lawn tennis as a young girl. The patient helpers brought them tea. And I know he walked down my corridor. I know he planted some of these old trees. Which one day jman will try and climb.
10. Trips to the toilet
I can go to the toilet whenever I like. On my OWN. THIS PLACE IS CRAZY. It is like an all expenses paid island holiday, solo trips to the bathroom.