It is New Year’s Day 2019. Where has the time gone? What a year it has been. A lot has happened over the year and I know you have been on that journey with me.
Mum and I have loved sharing fizz with you at every special occasion – Christmas, New Year, Father’s Day, Easter, your birthday and our birthdays. I love it all. We talk about you every day. Every time we share a glass of vino, we raise it to you.
I have several friends who have had bereavements recently and many have been their Dads. They now understand what deep grief is. Deep grief is deep love. It does make it harder when a friend loses their Dad and I do find it difficult. Grief is not about waiting for time to get over it. No-one can put a limit on that. Nor does there have to be a limit.
It’s hard to share with you the times when I have not been happy or when I have been hurt. You know these already but you also know that is is very cathartic to release these. Having a cathartic moment is not a rant and not reliving, but simply releasing, letting go and saying **** off to those and what made it happen. I always use to say to kids, ‘a joke is only funny if both parties find it funny’. Here’s NOT to those who mock us and say it’s only a joke.
There are moments I would love to relive and then there are others I want to fORRget but they are made harder because of what has happened. I can’t deny that there have been times where it’s been a huge struggle. There have been those whose actions have triggered major and unnecessary anxiety for me to the point where I can’t sleep and have severe agitation. My last few nights heading towards 2019 have been riddled with disrupted sleep, restlessness and feeling quite violently sick. They will know the strength of my voice in 2019 as lessons from those struggles have given me the courage to be stronger next year. I will use my voice.
My life began to pick up again September 2017 when I started some home tuition, consultancy work and teaching back in the classroom. Nothing beats that. It was so wonderful to hear from colleagues in the school that they couldn’t believe what I did to engage the kids. This was the start of very happy times even though 2017 was coming to an end. So, I began 2018 without what some would call ‘a proper job’. I was still teaching two half days a week in a local school. I still miss that now. I taught music and singing to every class in the school and really had carte blanche to add in whatever personal and social skills were needed as well as language and maths through the medium of music. It has to be the highlight of 2018. I will never forget the day I told the children I was leaving to start a new venture. I’d only been there 6 months and saw the classes once a week. You forget the impact you have upon such young ones when they tell you how much they love you and will miss you. Saying goodbye is always the hardest part when leaving a school.
As well as teaching 2 half days a week prior to having ‘a proper job’ I also had 7 young folk for home tuition. I started with 2 and this grew quickly. It was lovely to hear from parents that they respected the fact I wasn’t there to teach to tests but to develop life long learning. It was also great that they didn’t mind my age and saw it as experience, quality and not just making extra cash. It was a fascinating insight into what parents understand and have been told about year 6 and the transition to secondary school. Six of these pupils were year 6. However, in April times were changing and once I knew I had a permanent and regular income, I had to let my students know I couldn’t continue the home tuition. Although 6 pupils were in year 6, this was never about SATs. This was all about life long learning. There were tears from some families as we had built such a great relationship. I felt incredibly blessed and privileged to have met some ORRsome families who understand what it means to enjoy learning, and those whose homes I have been welcomed into. I stayed with the 6 year six pupils until SATs week and they all got in touch with afterwards.
A new chapter began in April where I began to support those embarking upon a career in teaching. I can’t deny that entering teaching right now isn’t a tough job. You really have to want it and understand what it means to commit to the profession. I did for 27 years. However, you know that my life had to move on, to change, to begin a new chapter in a different direction but without compromising my true beliefs where children are at the heart of everything.
At the moment I’m trying to balance a dual role. It’s hard and there are times I feel I am doing two 50% jobs 100% each because you want to give the best to everyone. I enjoy both. I left headship for many reasons. I always knew I wouldn’t retire as a head. I wanted to move on, shift the balance in my life and actually try to have a life. I didn’t need to be ‘in charge’, be the one leading others, be the one where the buck stopped with you, or be the one who had to make the decisions. I no longer needed to ‘lead’ but to enjoy the ‘doing’ at the chalk face. I still think some need to notice that. Having moved on from that, I know even more that it was the right decision to leave that behind and change direction. I sometime wish others would acknowledge and accept that. I want to enjoy what I do. I want to love what I do, do what I love and do it well. The day when I don’t feel that is the time for change.
I mentioned at the start there have been lessons learned from struggles and there is one major thing I will take into the New Year. My voice. No, not my singing voice, but the voice where I have the courage to speak up for myself and stand up to those whose beliefs, comments and actions do not fit with me.
Over the last year I have met with those who make disparaging comments. I can rise above those as they say more about the person speaking than myself. I have met with those who feel they have the right to be over familiar and pass comments just because they have known me since a child. I doubt they’d say what they said to me to their own child. And a final reason for using my voice in 2019 is to ensure my personal space is protected. For me, and no doubt anyone else, no bloody well means no. NO! Why don’t you get the message the first time! It is disappointing (that’s the polite word) that I have had to reiterate that message twice. No-one likes their personal space invaded. My voice will be so much stronger and if I have to scream at the top of my lungs, I will.
I love good company and Mum and I have experienced this a lot. We also share in good hospitality. We continue to open our homes and our hearts to others. It has bothered me of late when Mum has commented that I won’t be able to do certain things for her as I am ‘too busy’. That really bothers me and I want to change that. How that change happens, I am not too sure right now. I think I’m trying to find my feet balancing what I do, doing it well and not taking on too much. Perhaps I need to use my voice there too.
So, Dad, here’s to you. Mum and I will be sharing some fizz with you today for the third time without your human presence but we still feel you with us. I have some singing commitments for 2019 and look forward to those. One of them falls on your birthday and is for Shiney Row Male Voice Choir. It’s their 60th anniversary and they are having the entire evening recorded. Any special requests, Dad? I shall include Summertime as I know it’s a favourite for us both.
A new year ahead. My aim is to continue to look after Mum, as I promised, but to make sure I do it the way I want to and not governed by time being taken away. It’s us two. We get on and enjoy our times together and look fORRward to having many more ahead of us.
I am going to LOVE 2019 which means letting go of things that don’t fit. It’s about doing more of what makes you happy. Mum and I will be doing that.
All my love, Dad.