Being an Auntie

I love being an Auntie. I am so lucky to have two nieces and a nephew who are my brother’s children. I am single and have never had children of my own. I am actually undecided if I want my own but I do love children.

I have always been quite a maternal person and have worked with children in some compacity since I was just growing up myself. I used to be a youth leader for St John Ambulance and as such helped support and develop young people as a volunteer. At the time I always believed I would have my own children and I often had the same vivid dream of being pregnant. However, it has not been on the cards, so far.

While training to be a teacher I also was a temporary Nanny for a family with two young children. Helping them when on holiday, then in the mornings, evenings and weekends. Most people have a particular age of children they prefer but for me I loved them all. When deciding to be a teacher I contemplated Primary or Secondary a lot. I mainly picked Secondary to subject specialise and because you can always drop down to Primary. However to move from Primary to Secondary would mean re-training.

As a secondary school teacher I teach students from aged 11 to 18 years old. I manly teach history but have also been involved in the pastoral side. This has meant building relationships with students who are struggling with behaviour, health or are just struggling to be at school. I enjoy the relationships you can make and the support you can give as a teacher. Helping to develop the young person into a young adult ready to face whatever the world throws at them.

As an Auntie it is different, watching them develop from day one to now has been a privilege. Watching them learn to say my name is priceless. This weekend I went from the ‘Auntie Eggy’ I have been for a while, to ‘Becs’ in the words of the two and a half year old. Having them say they love you, want a cuddle, to read a book, or for you to put them to bed warms my heart so much. Knowing what they like and buying them presents or taking them out to spend quality time with them is such a joy. Being their confidant and them coming to you for advice is such a compliment.

The unconditional love children show has been rare in my life. Love from my mum came with conditions and was some torrid game of control. I have had it from my Dad, Grandparents and extended family but not having it from my mother left me deeply hurt. Through counselling and from being an aunt I have been able to heal some of these wounds.

I now think I longed to be a mum for two main reasons; firstly to prove I am not my mother and would not parent the same way and secondly to gain that unconditional love. I now know the first would always be true and I no longer feel the need to prove it. The second I have been able to experience through being an Auntie and I generally feel more fulfilled. This doesn’t mean I definitely do not want children but my need is smaller and I fell I might able to be content with being an Aunt and teacher instead.

Being a parent comes with lots of pros and cons. So of course being an aunt comes with them too. I can pass them back when there is a smelly nappy or if they are crying. I do not have to deal with many sleepless nights, only when I babysit. I can say no to helping out. I know I also miss moments and have a different bond. However, I also have a freedom that parents do not have.

Whichever way my life goes I will always love being an auntie to those three amazing children who brighten in my life in this mental world.

Dream Me Worries

Last night I woke up about 4am. I had dreamt of school, specifically my GCSE students failing to understand one of our harder papers. It is all about historical interpretation. In the dream I was trying and trying to get them to understand. Trying to find new ways to explain it and help them understand.

When I woke up I then could not get back to sleep. I was worrying about if the students did understand and how I could help them. Each time I tried to clear my mind and focus on my breathing I was left with thoughts of exam skills and not being good enough at my job.

I tell myself this is not true. I am a good teacher and I care about my students. I will find a way to help them understand. However in the morning not at 4am. Yet the thoughts still came and kept me awake.

Eventually exhaustion let me sleep. However I am left with this tried and sad feeling that I am not enough. I feel the need to explore new ways and solve this problem, even though it was a dream. My students have not expressed a lack of understanding and although their exam questions are not perfect they are improving as we head toward the summer exams.

Why is dream state me so hard on me? Is it my subconscious that is truly worried? Welcome to dream me in this mental world.

Teacher Training Days & Back to Work Anxiety

I am back to work tomorrow. After two weeks off this causes me some stress and anxiety. Usually when I tell people this, or even hint to it, I am told I am lucky to have so much holiday as a teacher. They are right, I am. However, it does not stop the going back to work issues I face when you have anxiety and depression, plus I am an introvert.

Nervous to see everyone and yet I want to get back into the routine a school provides. However these also raise issues and questions in my mind. Will I be good enough? What will people ask? Inevitable – How am I? What if I am not good? They do not really want to know that. How was your Christmas/New Years? How are my family? This is now the count down to exams. How are the kids going to do. Have they revised. Will they understand this is important. What am I teaching on Friday/this term?

Social interaction like this is draining and causes me some anxiety too. I do not know how to respond, how much people actually want to know and usually go with ‘Good’ or ‘Fine’. Then you ask about them and get a whole story, while I give them my ‘I was just being polite’ look. This might seem rude but these are work colleagues and not my friends. And I have a difficult relationship with my family, which I do not want to explain. I am polite and friendly but as an introvert it is exhausting keeping up appearances.

Tomorrow is also a teacher training day, which means learning something. I am not always sure what. Listening to people lecture about a chosen topic, I may of already had training on or not. Often it is on things unhelpful to actual teaching in a classroom but about new criteria from Ofsted, health and safety, data and so much more, it is not exciting.

As teachers we are also the worst students, like they say about doctors and patients. We will comment (not so quietly) under our breath and beĀ unappreciativeĀ of the hard work or genius of the speakers. Most things labelled ‘initiative’ are dismissed as ‘will be gone by the end of term’. The speakers should expect loud groans if any interaction is expected and if you dare to utter the words ‘role play’ things will be thrown. It is harsh but true. Training teachers is not a job I would out my hand up for.

woman holding microphone standing in front of crowd
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I also find the crowd an issue. In my school we have over 100 staff and when we are together in the hall for training it is a lot for me. My heart races, I fear being picked on, having to talk to people around me, asked to engage and interact on the spot.

Tomorrow morning we are going to a special auditorium as all the schools in our link of academy schools are coming together. That is three Secondary Schools, seven Primary Schools and a Special Provision School (I believe). That is a lot of people. Too many for me. I will try to sit at the back and keep telling myself to breathe. Even entering that room is hard, my first challenge is to find somewhere to sit, with people I know, but essential to help reduce my anxiety.

I probably will find it hard to sleep tonight with anxiety running a muck in my head and because I will be worried I might sleep through my alarm. Highly possible, I have seven alarms and still sleep through them all. It is so strange as anyone making any other noise wakes me up, as I am usually a light sleeper, but my alarms I can sleep through.

alarm clock analogue antique classic
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My brain sometimes triggers a migraine or pain as a coping strategy but hopefully not this time. I do feel my body plots against the things I try to do, or the things I have to do. It sneaks up and makes me stop when I want to carry on and plow through. Mostly this happens if I am not listening to my body’s pre-warnings.

Well, tonight I am trying to listen, I am trying to process it all before the morning comes, before I even attempt to sleep. I will meditate before bedtime and set extra alarms. I will list the people I want to see tomorrow. I will remember I can avoid people in a crowd, so maybe use it to my advantage. This is my Tortoise working hard on taming the Hare, even before the race has begun.

Goodnight from life in my mental world.