Sunday, 4 October 2009

when it all gets too much, you need a little chef...

First of all, I wanted to say thank you to all the people who have posted and sent such lovely messages since my anonymous postings started again. The comment about not being fit to look after an animal really got to me and it was so nice of so many of you to recognise how much that would have hurt and to get in touch to show your support.
I’m sorry I haven’t posted much this week but to say it has been a little hectic doesn’t really cover it. I’m therefore sorry if this post turns into a complete ramble but there’s so much for me to think about at the moment that I genuinely don’t know if I’m coming or going, let alone be able to string a coherent post together!
As most of you know, I revealed to my boss before I took my year group to PGL that I was going to be starting IVF. His response was very positive but he also said (I thought as a joke), “Well if you’re off, it’s definitely time for me to start applying for jobs”. To cut a long story short... He did, he got it and now he’s leaving. At Christmas!!!! This leaves me in sole charge of the school with an OfSTED inspection imminent, Year 6 to teach full time and prepare them for SATs, two new members of staff to induct and the new role of “acting headteacher”. Oh, and all this whilst trying to remain calm for the IVF. At risk of sounding like the victim that “anonymous” paints me as, this really is bum timing for me again.
There’s no one else in the school with Yr6 experience who could release me whilst I did the acting headship and so I’d be doing my own deputy’s job, the head’s job and the Yr6 teaching all at the same time whilst trying to juggle IVF appointments and hoping to God that OfSTED don’t come calling. Add into this the fact that my head revealed to me on Friday (whilst I was dressed as a Victorian in a stately home courtyard having done the 100 yard dash for an emergency medical epipen but that’s another story) that he hasn’t exactly been doing things by the book for the last two years and deliberately kept it from me. So, OfSTED would have a field day if they found out about some of the holes in what he’s been up to. It’s nothing illegal at all and the things he did have had nothing but amazingly positive impacts on the school and the quality of teaching and learning but they’re a little avant garde and so I’d end up having to explain them.
This has all been happening alongside Tom resigning from his job. He’s been unhappy for a while so resigned last week with no job to go to. However, this didn’t last long as he resigned at 9am and had three other offers by lunchtime the same day! The upshot is that he’s returning to a company he used to work for in about 3 weeks time and although his salary is less, the overall package is better and the hours are more conducive to a proper relationship as he won’t be on call 24 hours a day to down tools and jet off up to Edinburgh or down to London at the drop of a hat.
So, we’ve both had major career upheavals in the last week. Add into the mix that my mum’s been having an emotional meltdown as she’s convinced my brother will get pressed into action in a ladyboy’s brothel in Bangkok or have a half tonne of crack cocaine wedged in his rucksack and so will live out his days dodging firing squads in a Thai prison and you have a fairly stressful week.
It was capped off yesterday with our visit to the Passport Office to get my new passport. I spent over half an hour on the phone on Wednesday to a very nice chap from the IPS who helped me to put my application together and arranged an appointment at the Peterborough office for yesterday (Saturday). I had gathered enough evidence to satisfy the Spanish Inquisition and so we set off on the 5 hour round trip to get the passport. I had with me.... My old maiden name cancelled passport, my current married name passport, my birth certificate, my maiden name driving licence, 3 utility bills in my married name, 3 in my maiden name, my payslips in both names, my divorce papers and the letter from IPS inviting me to interview.
This apparently wasn’t enough evidence.
Apparently because my local county court do not put your maiden name on your divorce papers and keep the marriage certificate in your file, there was no actual document showing my change from Mrs ST to Miss T. I am ashamed to say that I did something I very rarely do and poor Tom just didn’t know how to cope with. I burst into tears at the passport office counter and poured out the whole story to the woman behind the counter. The two little men who searched us on the way in and who had ushered us through the metal detectors (I never realised that IPS offices had become as tightly monitored as Gatwick) were all sympathetic looks and helpful smiles but the hard faced cow behind the counter was obviously one of the “computer says no” generation and would not even phone anyone up to ask if it was possible to issue the passport after all.

I was getting quite upset as I had two passports, both issued by them, both with my photo on, clearly showing I was who I said I was and had the damn divorce papers there and they wouldn’t issue the sodding passport. Since when were divorce papers, utility bills, birth certificates and passports not enough evidence? I kept saying that I’d spoken for over half an hour with one of their reps to prepare for this interview as I had to get it just right to get it ready for our IVF appointment in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the world and his wife (none of whom could apparently speak a word of English and who were having to have stuff translated for them), were wandering off clutching brand new shiny passports like they’d gone to the pick and mix counter at the cinema. I sobbed. I sobbed a lot. I sobbed with the frustration of not potentially not being able to start the IVF because of the timing of the ill fated marriage to ST, the fact that try as I might I couldn’t seem to legally get rid of the weasel’s name; and I sobbed because I was knackered, stressed and utterly terrified about having to take over the school when I’m meant to be de-stressing.

We eventually established that, in addition to the car boot full of paperwork I already had, I needed to download a deed poll application to change my name aswell. We now have to repeat the 5 hour round trip at some point next week when the deed poll paperwork comes through. I also now have to pay for the 1 day express service which is well over £120 in addition to the deed poll fees. I really am paying a fortune to rid myself of that hideous weasel. He, of course, will have had to make no changes or pay to change any paperwork as his title and surname didn’t change. The irony of it all is that we never even went on our honeymoon so it was pointless changing my passport over in readiness for that when we married; I never used the damn thing once with ST!
After I had made the floor of the IPS office soaking wet with my frustrated outpourings, Tom led me outside to get some fresh air and begin the journey home. Now, I’m not sure what buildings I expected to be surrounding the nation’s passport office, but i can tell you it was not a lap dancing club, a butchers and kebab shop. Whilst composing myself on the steps of the IPS, I was witness to a group of lads staggering into the lap dancing club, a lap dancer with boobs the size of space hoppers that were struggling to stay in the tiny piece of neon lycra she had wedged them in and a very confusing sign in the butcher’s window which simply read “Maybe gammon”. After almost walking up to the lap dancer and congratulating her on her fine frontage (truly, even I was impressed – Tom was virtually drooling) I began to wonder what the “Maybe gammon” sign was all about....I settled on it being the worst butchers in the world where he couldn’t tell his topside from his back bacon and so was unsure of his wares.

We then did what everyone should do in a crisis... We had the obligatory row about the best way round the one way system and then stopped for an Olympic breakfast at Little Chef. Well, Tom had an Olympic breakfast as he’s doing a 55mile cycle race today; I just had a jacket potato with minor emotional meltdown. I don’t know what it is about formica, kindly waitresses and comforting “too strong” tea in an anonymous service station but it brought on a lot of honesty and soul searching with me and Tom. He said he was so angry that I was so stressed and that all he wanted was for me to be happy. He said that in his new job, he’ll need someone at home to support him and so he was more than happy for me to give up work and concentrate on the IVF. He said it would be pointless starting IVF at the moment as it would be doomed to failure as I was too wound up. He said that living in two houses was completely nuts and putting too much pressure on both of us. He said we could sell his house and move closer to my parents if that was what I wanted but that I couldn’t carry on as I am. Apparently he just wants me to let my house and move in with him ideally. He put his foot down about me taking on the acting headship and said that he’d be really angry about it as if we’re serious about making the IVF work then we needed to ensure it was as stressless and calm as possible; running about like the proverbial blue arsed fly would not be helpful.
He also said that he would look after me but not keep me. He said that I wouldn’t have to worry about any bills or mortgages and that he’d pay for us to go out and do nice things but that I’d need to do something to earn money for myself too. We agreed that one option would be for me to enrol at University to do a Masters (which I’ve wanted to do for ages) and then get a part time job doing something completely unrelated to teaching but that I’d enjoy and would bring in some money. He suggested working in a shop like a florists, a bridal shop or a gift shop as he knows I’d enjoy that.
I’m definitely contracted to work until Christmas but I could technically leave after that. It’d mean selling my beloved brand new Audi TT, letting my house, moving to Tom’s and a complete and utter life change but at least I wouldn’t be working minimum 15 hour days every day as I do at the moment. I just don’t know how I feel about walking out on my career though. I’ve been teaching for 11 years after training for a further 5 and I’ve worked so hard to get everything I’ve achieved. I have a great reputation in the local authority and adore the children and community I serve. It would leave a huge hole in my life if I walked out on it all but if the IVF works, I guess that would be filled by being a mum and family unit.

It just seems such a gamble. Tom’s new job means that I do not need to work at all but it’s all I know. I’ve had a real work ethic drummed into me by my parents and I’ve always worked really really hard; the thought of not having to, actually makes me question who I am. I’ve been the high flyer, the one who achieves and the one who has success at work for so long, what happens and who am I if that part of me goes?

My friends all think it’s a great idea as long as I do do the masters to keep my brain ticking over. They know i’d go mad if I wasn’t intellectually challenging myself in some way as it’s all I know. They are worried about me being so wound up and tired though. All the illness, the surgery, the saga with ST has left me drained recently and so they can see I need a break of some sort. My parents aren’t as keen though as they think I’ll go round the bend if I don’t have my work as they know how much it means to me.

I therefore just don’t know what to do for the best, especially as we won’t know if we can proceed with the IVF until we’ve talked through the timings of our relationship with our consultant again. This is also all dependent upon whether we can get the deed poll and the passport documentation changed in time so I can prove who I am. If the passport authority won’t accept my current documentation then I’m pretty sure the HFEA won’t accept it either.

It’s all a bit up in the air again and I feel as if my head’s going to explode with it all.
So, I’ll try and update again soon but I hope you don’t think I’m being tardy if it’s not for a while. This poor little brain of my is exhausted!
Thanks again for all the positive messages and support. It really does make a difference.



  1. Hi Emmy

    I think I'd be exhausted too if I lived your life! You just don't seem to have much luck with the practical things in life do you? But, you must remember that you have lots of luck in that you have a wonderful family and the lovely Tom in your life...

    I'm a teacher too (although not in senior management) so I kind of understand how stressful the situation you are talking about is. Have you considered doing some supply for a while? That way, you'd be keeping your fingers in the pie, earning decent money (working part time in a shop will never pay you a teachers salary) and not having any of the stress involved in a permanent position. Think about the no planning, minimal marking and leaving before 4pm every day.... hmmmm, even I'm tempted by it!

    Just something for you to think about...

    In the meantime, sending you lots of love
    C xxxxxxx

  2. Best of luck with it all, hon! Tom sounds like a complete sweetheart, and this might be a great course of action for you. I agree, though, that doing something to keep your brain ticking over is essential. Trust me: there is nothing more soul destroying than sitting in a house doing nothing, as I currently am :(

    Anyway, sending best wishes to you as always. xx

  3. Take 5 mins and breathe..................

    I personally would wait and see what is going to happen with the IVF first.

    Once you know the IVF is all going ahead I think Tom is right. As you are so fortunate to be in a position where you can afford to give up work I think you'd be silly not to as stress is a big factor of IVF not working (from what I understand).

    I understand your concerns but if you did a masters and took up a part time job you'll be Ok it'll definatley keep your mind ticking over.

    How about voluntary work or something like a teaching assistant I know this is a step down but you'd still be working with children but without all the stress.

    You can always go back to teaching in the future if you really miss it but right now its time for a break and to look after YOU!

    I have everything crossed for you that you get the go ahead for the IVF and it is succesful.

    Take care x x x

  4. I once had someone very recently say something to me that i now have posted on the bottom of my computer screen at work.
    At the time i was very very stressed out with work, very worried about a situation with a very close family member and just not coping with anything life was throwing at me.
    The lady in question took me to one side and asked when i had last flown, my answer was about two months previously. She asked me what part of the safety briefing on the pre flight announcement was. I for the life of me couldnt remember what she was talking about or what any of it was. She reminded me it was this;

    If the need arises please make sure you fasten your own seatbelt and fix your own oxygen mask in place before you assist anyone else.
    Basically her message was you HAVE to LOOK AFTER number one before you can be concerned for anyone else.

    I think this is something that you need to consider, especially if you are going ahead with the IVF as you are going to have to look after yourself so that you can look after your baby if it is to suceed.

    I suspect that this is what Tom is also saying about you giving up teaching/deputy/acting headship; however if teaching is also your life then go down the route of supply teaching to keep your hand in, you have more freedom to chose your hours/days of work.
    Keep your house but rent it out (through an agency to save you guys stress) and then you still have something that belongs to you as a safety net.
    Good Luck with whatever you decide but please do as i have done and keep the above as a reminder of looking after number one first, whenever life starts to feel more like a pressure cooker than enjoyment. Remember we only get one shot at it.

    Liz (Z750girl from YAYW)

  5. Emmy i have all my fingers and toes crossed for you for this to all work out.
    I do agree though that you should minimise your stress. I was very fortunate this year to only work part time whilst going through my IVF. I did 2 rounds altogether but did try IUIs first which all consisted of me injecting massive amounts of hormones. Anything can send you over the edge when on them so cutting out stress where you can is essential for sanity reasons :)

    I like the supply teaching idea but wouldn't do anything until you know about your IVF starting. I wish you all the luck in the world and you can always email me if you have questions

    Sarah xx

  6. Hey honey,

    Think if the IVF does go ahead (and I have my fingers, toes and eyes crossed that it does) I think it would def be time for you to start chilling out more and take on a less hectic role somewhere. You would be brill in a bridal shop etc or as mrsmulder says a teaching assistant - job satisfaction without the stress.

    Good luck with everything honey and am sure it will all work out for you as you are deserving of a huge dose of good luck.

    Take care and best wishes,

    Gill xxxx