On July 10, I had the pleasure of meeting you in Cranbrook, B.C. Do you remember me? Mines Minister Bill Bennett pulled you aside and told you he had someone he wanted you to meet. I proudly introduced myself as an individual in First Nations economic development. To which Mr. Bennett said "And... ?"
"And," I replied with a smile, "I was on MasterChef Canada." We had a great conversation about my preferred cooking style, and what it's like to be in the public spotlight. You came off quite sweet. I was quite drawn to your warm smile and encouraging dialogue that flowed so easily from your mouth.
But the moment I walked away, I regretted my answer and the time wasted on our conversation. If I could do it again, my response to Mr. Bennett would have been: "And I am a certified teacher and single mother of three." I have no doubt that had that been my response, our conversation would have been much more brief and entirely more meaningful.
I went to post-secondary school for six years to become a teacher. First, I obtained a humanities degree through the College of the Rockies, then an education degree from the University of Victoria. I was the top of my class throughout most of it. I was in my third trimester of pregnancy during my final practicum and nine months pregnant during my graduation ceremony. I'm not afraid of hard work if that's any indication.
Like my colleagues, I was eager to get into the profession. I managed to gain a contract within a few months. I expected that. I am a hard worker. I am a people person. I am an overachiever. I walked into my classroom that first day in September, ecstatic to be teaching Grade 9 English.
Yes, I achieved my dream job. The fall came and went, and I absolutely loved teaching. I loved my students, and I believe I was able to create an incredible bond of trust with them.
My job was not done
And yet, every night I came home to my own three children unhappy. I knew my job was not done; it was just on hold for a few hours. It was now time to make dinner, give baths, and shuffle my children off to bed. While I wish I could say I enjoyed this time, it really wasn't enjoyable.
It was a race. A race to see if I could get them all in bed at a reasonable enough time, so that I could mark my students' assignments. Read a bedtime story? "Sorry my loves, maybe tomorrow night. Mom has marking to do and she wants to get to bed before midnight."
I got into teaching thinking that I would get to enjoy evenings, weekends, and holiday breaks with my children. I learned immediately that was not the case. Evenings were used for marking assignments, weekends for marking tests, and holiday breaks for planning the next few months' curriculum and assignments.
Turns out you don't get more than a couple hours during your work week to do planning and marking. What a bust. I went to university so that I could have a career that was conducive to having kids, and it turns out I might as well have become a lawyer.
Now, I don't take pride in just being an intelligent person. I take pride in being an intelligent business person; that means making calculated decisions which result in financial benefit. However, I am also a conscientious business person. So I make decisions that jibe with my core values.
By my fifth month of teaching, it was very clear to me that being a teacher was NOT an intelligent business decision. As a teacher, my university education wasn't supplying a very good return on investment. Nor was it supporting my family values. I am not going to do the math for you, Christy. I believe you're a smart woman who wouldn't work for those wages either.
So I quit teaching. It was a pretty simple decision. I keep re-certifying in case teaching conditions one day improve (because I did love it), but I now have a job where I make significantly more money. I work Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 4:30. I answer the occasional email or phone call during the evening and weekends. Other than that, I have quality time to spend with my children. I play slo-pitch every Wednesday night. I even have weekends to enjoy with friends and family.
Terrified look in his eyes
Life since leaving teaching has been great. So great in fact, that I make sure to tell everyone that leaving the teaching profession was the best thing I ever did. So great that I would probably tell everyone I know to stay away from the teaching professional altogether, if it wasn't for the fact that I am a mom of three.
My kids are nine, five and three years old. My daughter is going into Grade 5 and my son starts kindergarten this fall. They will be spending 6.5 hours a day with these people. That's about four hours a day more than they do with me during the week. Wow, I hope that they are caring and nurturing. I hope that they can handle the fact that my five-year-old has anxiety and has a tough time with transition.
For now, I guess I don't really have to worry about that anyway, since I have no clue if or when school is starting. My son is really thrilled about this. It's really entertaining when a child with anxiety asks you when he has to go to his first day of kindergarten, and your answer is "It might be in 11 days, or it might be longer. I'm not actually sure."
The terrified look in his eyes is what every parent wants to see. I wish I had a better explanation for him, but what's the point of trying to explain politics to a five year old?
On an upside, you did put my mind to ease by offering $40 per day to us parents of public children under the age of 12. When I heard the teacher strike was continuing, there was a moment of panic because summer child care ($1,450/month for three kids) just about bankrupt me.
The B.C. child care subsidy is great, unless you're like me (and likely a great number of other families, I'm sure) and you make too much to fully qualify, but not enough to come up with an extra $1,450 per month throughout the summer. Thank goodness that you agreed to provide parents with $40 per child per day.
Do you have any ideas?
I've arranged care for my children in case school doesn't start. I let my prospective caregiver know that I will provide them with $80/day. I'm not sure when the payments will start, but I am sure it'll will be a monthly subsidy. My child care provider agreed that, if necessary, she could wait.
Until she discovered BCParentInfo.ca. It seems your government has decided that "payments will be processed within 30 days after the month in which the labour disruption ends." It turns out that no one wants to care for your children when you aren't sure when you can pay them. But let's talk businesswoman to businesswoman for a moment: would you work indefinitely, knowing you won't get paid until all the work is done?
So here I am, a single mom of three left with two choices: I can leave my five- and nine-year-old children at home alone while I go to work, or I can stay home from work with my children and lose out on an indefinite amount of pay and possibly even my job.
Christy, I pride myself on being an intelligent business woman -- but more importantly, I take the greatest amount of pride in being a great mom.
I consider myself an extremely resourceful woman. I don't give up until I find an answer. Funny thing though, in this situation I cannot seem to find the answer. Do you have any ideas? I have about a week to figure this out.
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