Women, mentors, teachers, friends…mothers?

Note: I have been attempting to write this piece for over six months now and have been drafting it over and over, returning to the drafts in an attempt to find more suitable wordings (you’ll understand once you’ve read it). It is with an unsure mindset that I post this now, as I don’t think I will ever find the right words to say in response to those who have been a positive part of my life.  I hope it all makes sense!

 

Looking back on life so far, I am lucky to have had some wonderful women come and go throughout. I would like to dedicate this post to three specific women. But firstly, I would like to shout out to some of the wonderful ladies I have known.

I have known…

  • A woman who stayed strong while having a terminal illness and five young children to take care of….and ultimately have to leave behind.
  • A woman who went through 3 miscarriages to eventually have a healthy child.
  • A woman who stood up for her own rights when her job was threatened.
  • A woman who left an abusive husband – going against the norms of her culture.
  • A woman who is a fierce owner of her own company.
  • A woman who converted to Islam, and owns her own business while being a fabulous mother.
  • A woman who stood by her husband when he suffered a brain-damaging injury and did all she could to support his recovery.
  • A woman who was raped repeatedly, physically abused and trapped in situations where she was not in control, who is now on her ongoing path of recovery.
  • A woman who was constantly put down and mistreated while at work, but continued to work to her best ability.
  • A woman who does whatever she can to continue to improve her English and does not let her language insecurities affect her negatively.
  • A woman who worked hard to build her own business from home – and is wonderful at it!
  • A woman who is naturally clever and uses it wisely without being overbearing, prejudiced or judgemental.
  • A woman who married the man she loves.
  • A woman who married the woman she loves.
  • A woman who was adopted at a young age, suffered early parental loss, and went on to become an incredible teacher.
  • A woman who uses her talents in photography, editing and drawing to create and build her own career.
  • A woman who lost multiple younger siblings to disability.
  • A woman who moved to a foreign country alone to work on her career and extend her experiences.
  • A woman who put energy into her classes to get us all an A grade in her subject.
  • A woman who completed her degree’s final exams while heavily pregnant.
  • A woman who taught others for free from her home, bringing women together in a safe space, something her daughter continued to do when she passed away.
  • A woman who moved to this country alone, works two jobs while studying to provide for her family. She is one of the kindest hearted people I have ever met.
  • A woman who despite not having contact with me for 3 years, did her utmost best to send me a reference for my PGCE course even though she had just landed in China at the time and had no internet access. I am incredibly thankful to her.
  • A woman who, although retired, commits herself to working with children who have complex special needs, continuing a career of over 40 years.

Okay, that turned out to be more than ‘some’. I am sure the list could be much longer as I delve deeper into my past.

Pretty amazing, right? I hadn’t really thought about the range of people I have come across until I was writing about them here. Everyone has a story, everyone has strengths and trials. This is only a snapshot from my own experiences, which I am sure will expand over the years of life to come.

So, onto the women who brought me to write this piece in the first place…

Now, there are many people I could write about here who have inspired me, but these three all have one thing in common – they have all had the title of being my mentor during an educational journey, and have played a very important part in my development as a person and a teacher.

The first mentor I would like to mention was my personal tutor for the Level 3 course I studied (Children and Young People’s Workforce). Even when my activities were disastrous, she had a way of giving feedback which was calm and reassuring, as well as constructive. As I was on a fast-track version of the course, I could complete it as soon as I wanted depending on how hard I worked. Due to her faith in me and her praise of my work I was able to complete the course quickly. She had a varied group of adults to teach (from what I remember) and remained patient throughout, supporting each and every one of them individually according to their needs. I remember her leaving after the course to become a foster mother – I hope that worked out well! Thank you for supporting the first steps to start my current career!

Where do I being with my second mentor?! We went through a lot together! This superb person was my work-based mentor during my Early Years Teacher Training. I became attached to her quite quickly, her understanding of me as a person and as a teacher being essential to our relationship and my progress. This woman did everything she could to support me and the work I was doing within the setting – even when it didn’t always fit the norms (or managements ideals)! As she was a part of the management team she was able to pull some strings in my favour (though not without consequences), for example, getting the resources we needed to continue improving our setting and making sure I had the time to study while working. Most importantly, her emotional support was everything I needed during a tough few months at work following a conflict with a parent. Sadly, she left the company before I did, but not without leaving her impact on my knowledge of Early Years provision and on my life in general. I will always have a place in my heart for you ‘Madam’!

Thirdly and most recently, I was extremely lucky to work in a classroom with an absolutely outstanding teacher not to mention wonderful human being. She provided me with a wealth of knowledge and played a huge part in building my confidence as a teacher. I absolutely admire this woman, an incredibly hard worker with all the relevant qualities required for her role. Amongst the 101 things she had to do daily, she would always make time for me and make sure I was on task. I just….have no words really to express how thankful I was for that. Someone making time to support me despite it not being of any major benefit to them? Unheard of, for me anyway. I got attached (as I do), so when I left the school it was with a heavy heart and sadness paired with gratitude for the time I was able to spend there. I will never forget my experience there and the friendship (I hope) I gained. Inspiring, she was so inspiring. I can only hope to become the kind of teacher she is.

So six months after starting this piece I’m thinking… why did I start it? What was the point of it? Maybe there was no point.

As a person who has lived through her teenage years and beyond without a typically caring mother figure, I find myself getting immediately attached to any older woman who shows me kindness. Sadly when I form such a connection with a person (whether they know it or not), there comes a time when we must part ways. The grief of separating from yet another woman who was really just a colleague, or someone doing their job, unknowing of this invisible connection my heart had created is soul crushing (for me). We all need someone to tell us that things will be okay, or that we’re doing well, to stand up for us, to give us a safe space, to give us advice, to be a provider of comfort, right? I guess that’s what I saw in those wonderful women and I want them to know I am grateful. Always.

That was the point of this.

 

 

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