One of my earliest memories is a conversation with my father whilst reading a book together. I’m not sure exactly how old I was but I hadn’t yet started school so probably around three or four.. I don’t remember what the book was but I remember asking my dad what melancholy meant. He explained and I thought about it for a while. I asked him when I would know what all words meant. He went on to tell me that I was going to go to college and then university where I would learn lots of words and that I would then get a good job and have a brilliant career.
That conversation stuck with me and is what drove me to make it through school, college and university. It certainly wasn’t easy but I didn’t want to let my daddy down. I had to support myself through college and university and with the introduction of tuition fees that meant I needed to have two jobs in my final year. I did it though and then went on to get the job that I had dreamed of and even managed to do a post graduate qualification too.
Over a decade on from university graduation day I find myself at a precipice. Motherhood has brought huge changes to all aspects my life but the one I’m finding to most difficult assimilate is the impact upon my career. I’ve worked long hours, late nights and generally above and beyond expectation to get to this point. Its a big part of who I am. But now I have a new challenge, to be a good mum. My father ‘programmed’ me to want to be the best at everything I do so I desperately want to do the best that I can for my little cherubs but I’m beginning to question if that is compatible with a successful career?
I realise that what my children need from me will change as they grow. I can see that already in my three year old who is becoming more and more independent by the day. And of course I am acutely aware that they will only be small once and for such a short time. On those mornings when I’ve had to wake a sleepy baby and or toddler to take them out into an icey cold morning or I when they have cried and held their arms out to me as I have left them at their childcare, it has broken my heart a little bit. Everyone has told me that they will get used to it, that its good for them and that they will be fine but I can’t help wondering if it’s really worth it? Do I really need to do this to them?
Whilst I do like to have nice things, to go on lovely holidays, to drive a nice car and all the other trappings of a well paid job, I can deal with giving those up for a while. The girls aren’t bothered by those things and my husband is one of the least materialistic people I know so I’m lucky that the money side of things isn’t totally insurmountable. The problem is me. Having a job I enjoy, am good at and feel valued in, is all about me. Maybe if I didn’t like my job or wasn’t really interested it would be easier to walk away from it. At the moment I’m doing at best, a mediocre job, both at work and at home. Not very satisfying.
Parenthood and motherhood in particular has required many sacrifices. Most of which I have made gladly but as I try to decide whether or not to battle on in the corporate world or to take the leap into the unknown I find I am completely torn. I know I would struggle get another job at this level if I take a few years out so there is no going back on the decision. At least not easily.
So, do I give up the career I have worked long and hard for and devote my time to my children or stick it out? There doesn’t seem to be an easy answer.