I had been back at work about 8 months before I found myself sobbing in my bosses office. I had tried so hard to make things work. I tried two long days, I tried three shorter days, I tried starting ridiculously early (for someone who hates mornings) in order to get a space in the staff car park so I could get back in time for the school pick up. I tried employing a junior to help me out and before I knew it my job had transformed into something unrecognisable. I had inadvertently given up all the enjoyable parts of my job and was left with all the hard bits! I lacked a sense of continuity at work, I felt unable to complete projects I started, and equally unable to say no to further commitments. I felt like a massive failure. This was the job I had worked so hard for, that I had wanted for 15 years and I could no longer do it.
Alongside my dramatically reducing self esteem my daughters were struggling with life too. Amy would dread Tuesdays knowing I would be going to work and she would have to go to breakfast club before school. I would attempt to creep down the stairs but she would always wake before I left and tug at my heart strings. Although she would attribute her distress to do with her fathers lack of hair plaiting ability, I knew she missed the time to connect with us before school.
Josie on the other hand found life more difficult at the other end of the day. She was so tired she would become enraged when asked to take off her shoes or hit her sister for daring to look at her! The household felt like it was balancing precariously on top of a cliff and one small teeter in the wrong direction and we’d plunge into a tumultuous sea! (So I have a tendency for the dramatic!).
With the support of my husband and boss I decided to take a years career break. This coincided with Josie’s last year before starting school and the start of Amy’s DDP therapy. I was really anxious about this, whilst on adoption leave I had started to feel quite stifled being at home and was aware that I was getting overly strung out on the inconsequential details of family life. I had been more than ready to return to work and wondered whether this break would help or hinder the situation.
It was probably one of the best decisions I have made. It felt as if the whole family could take a collective deep breath. It hasn’t always been easy. I feel lonely, I’m an introvert and find it hard to make friendships that don’t have a functional purpose. I also hadn’t realised how much of my self worth I gained from working, the praise and gratitude from colleagues and patients, the esteem from doing a job well and attaining status as an expert (in the loosest possible sense) in my chosen field.
I now truly appreciate being able to get everybody ready calmly in the mornings and if I don’t have time to shower before the school run, it’s ok I can shower after. On days where life feels great I can get lots of jobs done and on days where I have frazzled nerves I can take the time recoup and prepare for school pick up. I have since decided not to return to work and as I watch my girls scooter home from school I realise how lucky I am to get to spend these moments with them everyday.