(Note Bene: This rant is not in any way aimed at anyone here. It is a letting off of steam accumulated during several recent conversations)
Don’t you dare.
Don’t you dare tell me you know exactly what I’m going through. You do not know exactly what I’m going through because you are not me. Yes, you’ve lost both parents too, but it is impossible that you know what it’s like for me, you only know what it was like for you. I’ve lost one parent, and even though I’m precisely the same person involved in it, it is totally different than it was last time. My relationship with Dad is different than it was with Mum, the illness is treating them differently, my circumstances are different. So if I don’t know exactly how I feel, how on earth can you think you do?
Don’t you dare tell me I’m acting without thinking things through. How do you know how much I’ve thought about all this, in the past and now? Am I generally so impetuous that I make rash and ill-advised decisions? Do you not think me capable of making my own mind up? If I wanted your advice, I would ask for you advice. I didn’t. I told you what I had decided and why, and I don’t need you telling me why I have made the wrong decision.
Don’t you dare tell me I am neglecting my children – that the fact that I chose to have them somehow gives me a greater responsibility to them than if I’d given birth to them. Rubbish. So those who don’t choose to adopt have less responsibility to put the children first, is that it? Do you really think I haven’t done all I can to make sure this is done in the way that is least harmful to them? Do you really think my decisions are made without any reference to them, or even any discussion with them as to their thoughts? Just because I think it essential that they learn the importance of a family pulling together by asking them to understand I’m under stress and asking them to help out a bit – I know they’ve been through a lot already but that isn’t to say that the most healthy thing is to shelter them completely from my dad’s situation and leave the caring to somebody else just because it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient to us and them. Nor is it unfair to expect them to do their chores properly. And don’t you think that the main reason I’m wanting to take unpaid leave from school is to reduce my stress and give me more time with them.
Don’t you dare tell me I’m being selfish. You think I resent handing over the care of Dad to my sisters and can’t appreciate he’s their dad too? That’s not the case at all, although it’s hard to let go. I want them here to share it. I know I feel vulnerable when totally alone with Dad and I guess my sisters will too, actually. It’s fine saying that my bit can be in the afternoons when I come home from school. Do you really think I can cope with the trivia and pettiness of school when I’m under the strain of losing Dad? And coming home to caring for a few hours, even if not the hours after the Smudgelets get home, still isn’t removing much of the stress. To be off work won’t mean I won’t let my sisters take their share of the caring, it’ll mean I don’t have a breakdown and school can cope better with more notice of me being off than with my suddenly taking days or weeks here and there.
Don’t you dare tell me I am being disloyal to the school or the children I teach, or that I am ruining my career prospects. As far as career prospects are concerned, that’s my business. As far as the children I teach, do you really think it will be destroy their hopes of making progress just because I’m not there for a term, any more than if I am there but impatient and with my mind on other things? I do a good job, and yes, it’s a job that not everyone can do, but is their entire world going to come to an end? What about all those children in different schools who aren’t taught by me? They seem to manage.
And what’s more, don’t you dare tell me what I “ought” to do, what I “should” do. Offer your advice, yes. Tell me what you would think in similar circumstances, yes. Show care and concern, yes. Even point out to me things I may not have considered by asking questions like “how do you think M will feel about this?” or “where will you get the money from?” But don’t get shirty with me because my decisions aren’t what you think I should be doing. I’m a big girl now.