Mum’s the Word

Mum’s the Word

Still very pissed off and feeling taken for granted. Really not what I was hoping for as my first ever ski holiday.  It’s a huge responsibility, and not what I was expecting, and still feel very isolated as the only non-Georgian. Friendships stretched to bursting point, and not getting that sense of growth in my relationship with the kids. Gut feeling is the same as it was the first day we arrived and isn’t shifting, even now the other little niggles and tiredness are resolved. Am still isolated and alone, and you can cut the atmosphere with a knife. Its like dealing with amateurs who think they can do more than they are skilled to do.  I know my limits, and I stop at them, but everything right now feels as if it is on a wing and a prayer.  I really want to be more supportive, but its like the more support you give, the more competent they feel and the bigger the risks they take.  Like putting stabilisers on a bike. What do I do, continue to support and give a false sense of security, or take the stabilisers off and let them figure it out themselves? It’s a horrid feeling. And I know others feel the same, but also no one really gets it, that’s the Georgian way and being a part of it is like giving my approval! Worse still, it feels like everyone just buries their head in the sand or turns a blind eye, and people won’t talk to me about things, yet they know there are problems.  I love these guys and I want to help them, but when they shut me out, its awful and confusing, and pushes me to a point where all I can do is walk off and leave them to it.

I hate to be the one always telling the kids off, but if I don’t do it, no one will. Kids hate me right now, and I’m at the point of letting them just do what they bloody well want, which is what everyone else seems to do.  If they play on the ski run and get hit and end up paralysed for the rest of their life, then fuck it, maybe it’s the only way they will learn.  No one else seems to bother about it, no one wants to upset them.  So I’m the bad guy. And not giving a  shit for the kids is one thing, but what about the other skiers. How will they feel if they hit a little kid on the ski slope during a ski jump? Or if they break their own leg. No one seems to think about these things. But I bet if the kids get hut they will go mental and it will be everyone else’s fault but their own.

I hate to still be whinging and whining, and I hate that I just can’t shake this feeling.  Perhaps I shouldn’t write about the bad stuff in my life or how I am feeling, perhaps it is not the kind of stuff that one should blog about, and maybe I will somehow get myself into trouble?? It’s not that I want to hurt anyone either, and I try hard to try and maintain privacy of others.  But, I often feel that a blog or journal or whatever should show both sides of life.  It’s no good being inspired by seeing a climber at the top of Mount Everest, without seeing the slog that it took to get there and having a go yourself only to be bitterly disappointed and ill prepared.  As someone once told me, you need both sunshine and rain to make a rainbow.  And so that is my blog philosophy.  If you don’t like what I write then don’t read it.  I’m not trying to make a point or anything, just to somehow document my experiences in life, however they may be, and if they benefit someone in anyway at all, then that’s even better.  We all have both good days and shit days, and just because it’s a shit day, it doesn’t mean that you have lost the plot or need rescuing or whatever, it just means that you are having a shit day, are acknowledging it, and by writing or talking about it in whatever way suits you best, means that you are trying to work it out for yourself and trying to find solutions.  Don’t they always say that a problem shared is a problem halved, and in the absence of anyone to talk to about this stuff right now, writing about it is the next best thing.

I have an inkling that I know why I am feeling so rubbish about being in Austria, and I think it all has to do with mothers, and somehow in a weird and random way, by design or coincidence it seems to me that all the mother stuff has collided and left me an emotional wreck right now.  I’ve been estranged from my own mother for about 25 years, which I am fine about, but it just so happens than my granny has been in touch with her which is rare indeed and they just had a massive barny.  Then my grandmother, who is the nearest thing I have to a mother, decided that she wasn’t speaking to me since I plan to stay in Georgia and plan to adopt in the near future.  I’m also awaiting news on my adoption plans and the girl I want to adopt is having a tough time of things right now and doesn’t know about my adoption plans either, and every time I see her and see her cry and hear her talk, it breaks my heart.  But I’m trying really hard to keep a distance from her as I don’t want her to know how I feel or my plans, because I want to make sure all the paperwork and things will go through before I ask her if she even wants me to adopt her or not. There are kids her age here, who have so much more than she has and just don’t appreciate it, and being around them is making me miss her and think about her even more, and about my own grandmother, lack of a mother, and becoming a mother myself. On top of which the person here who I feel closest too, is someone who feels like a mum to me, but she doesn’t know how I feel, and I know I’m giving her a really tough time as I try and maintain a distance.  Pretty messed up I know! But, something is different between us at the moment, we are not communicating, we are avoiding eye contact, and she seems to be spending as little time around me as possible, for which I don’t blame her, and I’m sure she is also confused by my behaviour right now and doesn’t really know what to do for the best than to give me space.  Which is actually the last thing I need, what I need is to sit down and talk with her, even about nothing, but its not possible because our room is like Piccadilly Circus and everyone wants to talk to her and wants consoling about something or other.

Again it is breaking my heart, because she is the last person I want to hurt or lose as a friend and its hard for me to form attachments, especially with the cultural differences too.  Sometimes things are just natural and I feel like we are close and great friends, and other times I totally doubt her intentions, even feel angry with her, and am scared that I have been taken in by Georgian charm again.

Seeing the kids here with their mums and seeing her with the kids makes me think about what I missed out on as a kid and what I don’t want to miss out on with my own kids.  I need to be a mum more than ever, and I miss my girl so much, and I’m worried about her, and then I think that is so crazy at this stage as maybe the adoption and whatever won’t go through anyway, and maybe I shouldn’t even be a mum because I seem to be pretty messed up. But I’m not messed up, I just want things to work out, and this waiting in limbo the past 4 or 5 months is getting to me now.  Everything is getting to me, I want stability in my life and I want to have my family around me, whoever those family members end up being.  I’m ready for it, and all this not being able to make plans and not knowing what the future will hold is just making me crazy.  I need to know where I stand, because my emotions are up and down and every day is another day of waiting.  No one seems to do anything or make things go quicker and I feel guilty hassling people all the time.  I feel worse still that here is a great opportunity and chance to enjoy myself and get to know my students and their parents, and instead I am just behaving and coming across like some freak!

I’m worried about my friend too, in so many ways I feel like we are close, but then I think I’m just imagining it.  I worry about her, about her health, about the stress she is under, and about putting on her.  She seems to get me, and fairly unconditionally, but I don’t know how to communicate or support her, and the age difference, status, and being another culture makes it harder. And it hurts more, because there is something about her that reminds me of my family, the good parts about them, the voice or looks or something familiar. I’m afraid of so many things right now, and especially of messing up and losing people who mean the most to me, but knowing how to move forward is hard, and so the only thing I can do is to write and hope that time will allow things to unfold on all levels. Its ironic that I feel more alone now than ever, yet I am not alone enough to enjoy the break or silence as I am instead surrounded by people I don’t know, and its hard to get time to myself in a planned and organised way.  It seems that I am just abandoned and I have no idea when people are coming back, what they are doing, or where they are. No one communicates.  I can’t fit in and work with them, because I don’t have a clue what is going on with them, whether they want me around or not, and when I am with them the conversations are just in Georgian and I can’t join in anyway, so end up feeling more isolated. Again, its limbo land! If I were alone, I’d actually have a much better time, because I could then go off and explore or go skiing or visit a café or whatever, but instead, I’m here waiting for directions and waiting around to know what the kids are doing since I’m supposed to be looking after them.  Its all just very confusing, and because all I do is tell the kids off, and try and get them to meals on time, I’m the miserable and horrid one they are not speaking to, and everyone else just does the cool and lovely stuff with them. I can’t tell them off because others just ignore their behaviour and are not accountable. I hate it, and I know my lessons will be far more difficult with the older students this term as a result.  It kind of feels like the whole trip has been a disaster so far, and I don’t know how to fix things for everyone.

Now the person I am closest to, probably resents me for complaining about so many things, but I can’t talk about them in a positive way because she is never around, and so it always ends up coming out in an angry outburst instead. I hate things the way they are, but I’m stuck now. Each day, I hope that it will be the day that we get to sit down and talk about all the stuff from the past few months and resolve things, and each day its like she avoids me because she doesn’t want to talk, and then things just get worse and worse to the point where its impossible to talk about things now.

It feels the same with school too.  I’ve been waiting months for decisions to be made, about books, and which classes to teach, and resources, etc.  I want to put my funding application in so I can purchase necessary resources for my classes, like a map of the world, or an atlas.  Otherwise when they take their exam, they will be faced with a map for the first time ever, and will freak out, and fail their exams.  It doesn’t bother me that we don’t have resources at school, and I have no issue with applying for money or sourcing things myself, but I do need to know really basic information.  I’m angry because I want to get on and plan my lessons as we start back at school next week, and I have 300 lessons to plan, two funding applications to put in by the end of the week, and their Volvo entries to submit.

But it feels like I am still just hanging around as Georgians just don’t seem to get on or get around to communicating with each other and making decisions.  I have waited a whole term whilst they try and decide on whether to order a textbook that costs £4, and it would have cost less to buy the book than to photocopy it.  Again, its this sense of foreboding and responsibility which is getting to me.  I will always do the best I can, with whatever resources I have, but a decision needs to be made one way or another about basic stuff.  Either we will order books or we won’t.  But we are teaching from a British curriculum, GCSEs and A’Levels, and I am the only one who knows what this entails and the fact that they are supposed to have experience in doing or seeing field research. So somehow I have to work around this and get them to understand things.  They are doing the exams in a second language, which some of them don’t even speak as yet, or understand. No books, no maps, no videos, no computers.  Some have never left Georgia, and even here they will mainly eat chips because they are afraid to try anything new and need a lot of encouragement. It is a big ask of me, and I’m worried because I know that if they fail their exams, which they will do when teachers change the grades I give them or tell them that they don’t need to do their homework or bring a pen to class, then parents and school will be annoyed and blame me, that I was a bad teacher and it is my fault they failed their exams.  Again, its like them playing on the ski run.  They are totally oblivious to cause and effect and things that will happen if they don’t pay attention or take an interest. Even babies have more sense of danger than they do, and that is what scares me.

I don’t feel like I am being unreasonable in my requests, but having asked the same questions for months and months I’m becoming pissy about it and can’t continue to ask in a nice and jolly way. Either you resolve things by the deadline I set, or I’m done teaching at school.  Enough is enough now, but they seem to think that as long as they put on a happy face then things will be smoothed over and we can continue another term in exactly the same way.  I hate to get so annoyed about this stuff.  I love my school and my job, the kids are great on the whole, and I really want to teach them geography, but I equally don’t want to take the flack when they all fail their exams, and I don’t to feel like people are just walking all over me. It is a cultural thing, and that is what makes it so difficult and tiresome. And it becomes more difficult when you really like the people you work with.  Georgians always mix friendship and work, there is no boundary in that way, and that is a new thing for me, which I find hard to deal with as I’m not used to separating the issue from the person.  That is my culture. It’s a trivial situation, with easy solutions, but time is ticking, and its leaving me exhausted and frustrated. You can’t leave things to Georgians, especially when the standards you need to meet are western.

At the moment, I’m at risk of losing it all. And being in a foreign country without my own culture and social rules, the stakes are high, and that is what frightens me.


About Sarah Rows Solo

British YouTuber and Founder of Environmental and STEM education charity Oceans Project, preparing for a solo row around the coast of Great Britain.
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