Premature labour? A reflexive appraisal of one young teacher’s journey into first time motherhood and her return to teaching.
AuthorsMcCarthy, Elaine P.
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AbstractThis Ethnographic/Autoethnographic study reflects in rich detail a young teacher’s life as she navigates the changing landscape of her first pregnancy, the birth of her child and her subsequent return to work as a full-time teacher. Using data which has been collected from a personal journal which she kept throughout the eighteen month period of the study, it examines the practical and emotional challenges which she faced, and the commitment, self-sacrifice and dedication required of her for the continuation and advancement of her career. By combining her data with observed field notes, semi-constructed interviews and reflexive narrative, I have been able to offer a holistic and balanced account of her experience and expose the complexities of motherhood today and the impact they have on a woman’s life choices and professional decision making. My study revealed how this new mother faced a myriad of decisions and dilemmas, decisions, which ultimately impacted on her emotional well-being, and her power and identity as a woman, a wife, a daughter and a professional teacher. Its findings suggest that notwithstanding the historical political and legislative policies which have been implemented, in reality, little has changed since my own experience of being a working mother some thirty years ago. It recommends that if the increase in working mothers is to continue to rise, more must be done, both culturally and institutionally to alleviate the physical and emotional pressures which currently only serve to exacerbate the guilt and stress which appear to be an innate characteristic of the maternal condition. It concludes by recommending that working mothers need to harness “their strengths, their ability to learn, their confidence and joy in their work –[because this is] all part of being a woman now, [it is] part of [their] female identity” (Friedan, 1963, p.331), and rather than accepting motherhood as being a moderating factor, they should allow it to become an influence for further personal and professional growth and liberation, so that they can reassert their power and fight back to assume their equal place in society (Kristeva, 2015).
CitationMcCarthy, E. P. (2016). Premature labour? A reflexive appraisal of one young teacher’s journey into first time motherhood and her return to teaching. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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