How important was/is your work to you? What does/did it mean to you? Did/Do you love it? The buzz, the excitement it engenders or is it the people you work with that matter? The interaction, the ideas, the fun?
What if you had to make a choice, a serious choice one which would mean you may never work again, well not doing what you love? What would you feel? Anger? Joy? Despair? Freedom?
In the hectic existence that is my world I work a bit, do the school run, keep the house ticking over, do all the washing and cleaning, shopping and cooking, do all the family finance, keep an eye on the builders, look after the chickens, prevent the dogs from running amok and try to keep up with the garden.
Problem is it means I have very little energy to just BE with my boys and there is the rub. With so little energy I cannot actually say I enjoy myself and things that were fun are now a bit of a chore and before you know it, well you feel run down and sorely used.
So a week ago, when I returned to the nest so to speak, my Dad sat me down to give me a few home truths the thrust being I needed to realize that I couldn’t do everything and that they could not be around forever to help me pick up the pieces each time it goes tits up and set me back on my feet. Fair enough.
I was asked what the most important thing in my life was, and of course, one has to say it is one’s family and I think that is true. But as the conversation moved along, a feeling of dread crept over me, for it would be me that would have to make a change and I just knew it would be one I did not like.
“Give up your work. Your sons need you.”
My life over the past few months has not been easy, general everyday stresses have been compounded by neighbourly disputes, The Boy having to change school and of course my inability to shake off the old black dog.
But work or son?
I suppose most people would find that an easy decision to make but work for me, well without it I am sure I would go mad.
Work is part of my self esteem; it is who I am, even if I am not particularly good at it. It is the means by which I am independent. It is the means by which I can hold my head up high and look people in the eye. I work. I bring in money. I have the moral authority to thus spend it anyway I like without feeling guilty.
Despite depression, despite children I continue to work. I have never taken maternity leave, sick leave or holidays as a freelance that in any way jeopardised any deadline I have been given. I am proud of that, it means that I am reliable, I can be counted on, and I am steadfast.
I have never not worked. Twenty three years I have worked. I haven’t always been paid brilliantly, mostly a salary rather than a wage but working is my freedom, or at least the only one I know.
Not to work?
If I could guarantee that it would make me calmer, less stressed and of course nicer I would stop now, but there are no guarantees. The problem is in my line of business, with my speciality, if I do stop for a few months, I am very unlikely to be able to start up again. Come on I am a fat forty something not quite agile enough for the cut and thrust of the open jobs market. I am only as good as the last piece I wrote and I know it. If I did stop I don't feel I would ever be able to get a job like this again where I can work from home and be flexible enough to do all the other things I have to do.
I don’t want to be dependent on anyone. It is far too scary and way too risky but which is more important? Me and my selfish needs or my son and his future? What would you do?
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