Monday, 17 May 2010

How important is/was work to you?


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.”
SHIT.
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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16 comments:

hittyjean said...

Hey, Tattie Weasle!! :o)
Gosh....I had always worked until I quit my job 14 years ago...I never looked back. But this is such a hard thing because for others, it is the key to their sanity to work. Hmmmmm....
Do blog about it when you find the answers...

Mac n' Janet said...

You can never replace the years you have with your sons, too soon they'll be gone and what they'll not remember is the pride you took in your job but rather the time it took you away from them.

Jude said...

That's really, really tough. I had to give up work, and feel in a constant state of guilt about it, so I desperately try to bring in some extra cash where I can to try and compensate (it also makes me happier). I think it's a decision that only you can make, but it sounds like something has to give somewhere. A lot of my friends have re-trained, and I'm considering doing the same myself.

Tattie Weasle said...

hittyjean - when I know the answer or when I win on the lottery???!!!
Mac'n'Janet - that is the very problem my pride or their happiness but what about afterwrads...ooohhh I don't know. I am terrified that even if I do give up work it won't be any better for them. I wish I had had them in my 20s!!!!
Jude - tough is horrid and something I'd love to avoid. If I had my own money stashed away and somethng I could live on without having to be dependent maybe but to have to rely on my husband!!!! I am not sure I can do it, I am not sure I love my boys enough for that. Is that so terrible to say?

Gappy said...

Oh Tattie, what a huge decision to have to make. I wouldn't dream of giving definite advice - only you can decide what is right for you and your own family - but I will say this:

Your needs are important too.

If you give up your job that you obviously love and feel gives you a sense of your own identity and purpose, how is that going to affect you and in turn your children?

Is it not at all possible that another option could be to just try it for a short time and see how it goes?

I really do wish you all the best with whatever decision you make. Keep us posted. x

Preseli Mags said...

It's a very tough decision. I felt completely out of the loop when I took maternity leave with my first child. I assumed I would go back, but when the crunch day came to go and visit the nursery and book her in, I found I was unable to do it.

I missed my job (as a sub editor and farming editor) quite painfully. Last year I got the chance to go back and do my old job while the current incumbent was on maternity leave. I hated it! I found that once I stepped off that particular treadmill I couldn't get back on again and I don't want to. I no longer miss it and now I'm happy to be at home full-time; there's no guilt any more. It costs me more to go to work than it does for me to stay at home and my husband is happy to support me. My contribution to this arrangement is to provide our home by being related to the right people!

I'm not sure if that's helpful to you or not. I'm glad that I have been at home with my children, although sometimes I have felt completely invisible. Blogging helps and I've been writing fiction to fill the 'writing gap' (I'm also doing the e-course!). I live on a smallholding, so there's more than enough to keep me occupied.

Good luck with this and keep us posted. You might find that the space of not working gives you time to discover what you really need to do to make you happy for the rest of your life. Best wishes xx.

Expat mum said...

I'm sure you've thought of this but isn't there a way to just cut back?
I felt like I had to give up the corporate job when my second child was little because I simply wasn't doing anything well and felt rushed and tired all the time. It was a very difficult adjustment because your self worth is all wrapped up in that. Now I am probably busier than I ever was when working but that's because I take on far too many volunteer things and also run a charity that I set up last year.
I still feel knackered all the time but I can jump on and off when I really have to or want to. This past four days I have been absent from the family because of one project I'm involved in and they have missed me (and not just because the house is now a tip_.
I think it's important to be very presnt in your children's lives (and you'll reap the rewards when they're teenagers, let me tell you), but it's equally important for you to feel fulfilled. Fulfilled doesn't have to mean crazy busy though.

Mother Hen said...

If you came upon this blog and it wasn't yours, you would pretty much know what to do right away. The boys are only young once and maybe it's fate that has brought you to this cross roads
in Suffolk. Mothers have the most amazing ability to just carry on and get on with it.
Don't think of giving up work as a choice, consider it just a change....for now. Some change is all for the better, it lets new things come into your life. Good luck :)

Potty Mummy said...

Tattie, isn't there something else that you can cut back on, if the work is so much a part of you? I write this as someone who DID walk away and still misses my work most days; not just the process, but the cut and thrust and the thrill of doing what I did.

So, I ask again; what else could go? Obviously not your family time, but - and I hardly dare say this - the chickens, perhaps? Some of the other commitments on your time? Something that is not so essential to your emotional well-being? Because although I loved my job it sounds like I was less attached to it than you are to yours and still it took a couple of years of counselling to get over walking away from it.

Glowstars said...

Thanks for the shout.

If I had the chance I'd give up work without a second thought. Unfortunately if I do that the rent won't get paid. I'd love nothing more than to be able to spend all day at home with the boys.

blackbird said...

It's such a completely personal thing- working and motherhood- and as much as you think you know what you'll want to do, you really don't until you're in the thick of it. There is no right path for everyone.

I've been a non-working mom for years and as expat mum says- my time still fills up with other obligations and activities. I've had a house full of pets and they take time too.

Maybe you can have a family meeting and each of you can write on a piece of paper the most important activity that you most want to do. Put them in a pile and then do it again into another pile. You might be surprised at what is important to each of you and maybe you can fit everyone's most important stuff into your year.

I think that the best lesson that you can teach your child is to be true to yourself- even when and especially when it's hard to do.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

A healthy mother is a healthy relationship with husband and children. What about part time? Ease your way into it? You need to stay healthy and the rest will fall into place. Having spent 5 years falling into a deeper and deeper depression I believe that had I worked I would have returned to full health quicker or perhaps not even have fallen so far if I already did work. But you have a lot to occupy you so perhaps that wouldn't be a problem for you. You have to ask yourself what gives you the most pleasure, what validates you, do you have enough friends outside of work that can provide distractions, support, sustain a healthy ego when things become repetitive, a drudgery. If you can go part time, it's a transitory stage to keep your foot in both camps whilst you get a taste of what life may be like. Good luck Tats!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Whatever you choose as a mother , Full-time or part-time work or full-time at home , you'll always feel you should be be somewhere else !
You do sound very busy and , if you feel that tiredness and stress are problems , you could perhaps cut back . But if you enjoy the contact with the working world , perhaps you could use some of your earnings for a cleaner/ironer ?
Difficult decision and you don't have to decide today.

elizabethm said...

Such a hard one Tattie. I think you need to find a way of moving forward that doesn't feel like the two things are in opposition to each other because as long as they do you won't feel ok whatever you do. Why don't you just give yourself six months off? That is not so long that you won't be able to get on again, but long enough to see how it feels and if it helps, or not. You can tell people you are doing it and keep in touch with work contacts. By the end of six months you will have a much better sense of what you might want for the long term.

muummmmeeeeee...... said...

It sounds to me that giving up work would not necessarily make your life happier or easier. If you think by not working, you'd lose your self-esteem, that would be a rough path to tread. It's a really tough one because you want to spend more time with your kids but you need the balance of your independence and feeling of self-worth. In your shoes, I'm not sure what I'd do - sorry honey x

Tattie Weasle said...

Gappy - Thank you! I have been mithering away at this for ages now still not sure which way to turn...
Preseli Mags - its beginning to boilo down to not just about work but more a combo of self esteem, my OWN money and the fact I love it but the question remains is that fair?
Expat Mum - I think cutting down sounds good. Ensuring I don't actively seek more work than I already have. I am talking to my editor...
Mother Hen - you are so right one should look at it as a chnage for good not as a stricture being forced. If I could guarantee it would work it would be a no brainer.
Potty Mummy - the last thing I want is to make the wrong decision. My boys have never had me not work so for them things continue as usual but I am activley looking at ways to slow down!
Glowstars - it's horrid isn't it? Here I am with lucky enough to have a choice and probably not going to take the one you would give your eye teeth for; I truly wish we could all have what we want. Thank you and {{{HUGS}}}.
Blackbird - I think your idea of a family meeting is really good especially as it will mean that he and I won't argue over it as it is far more difficult to intterrupt and be rude if you have to write things down. You are a star!
MOB - you are so right. Work has been a rock despite my depression and I think it menas more to me that way than probably any other. I see it as a way of keeping sane. The thought of not doing it terrifies me and I am scared of what I may do if I don't have it around...
SmitoniusAndSonata - Good idea! I don't think the cleaning is a problem but the garden surely is esp as HE doesn't have enough time for it now...good thinking batman!
elizabethm - I sabbatical is what I am working on with my editor. It won't be six months more like six weeks but it will give me an inkling...or just a breather both equally important.
muummmmeeeeee - With all the generous advice I have had here I may not be much further forward but I am getting a cleaer picture of the problem from my point of view. All I need now is to ask the boys what they think! They may not even want me around as such but I am sure they want me to be there for them.

Go on you know you want to...

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