Here I was this year, 2013, looking forward to a new routine with both Ella & Charlie in school and me more than settled into my 4 day working week when my happy new year from work was “we’re making your role redundant”. That was almost 6 weeks ago now but it took me a couple of weeks to get over the initial raw emotion of ‘why me?’ to seeing it as an opportunity. As I think about my changing situation I realise that many off the cuff remarks were actually more pointed just my senses were not so heightened when I heard them.
I’ve juggled divergent view points in the office over the past 3 years from “oh, you work 4 days, when do you see your kids?” to “oh, you ONLY work 4 days”. Let me just say that I’ve always done what has been best for our family and in trying to do that, 4 days felt very much like full time to a mum of 4 young kids. Yes part of the reason I went back to work was financial but a larger part was about me. Me, the person away from her kids who had studied hard and worked hard pre-kids to establish my career. The career path I had envisioned was put on hold in 2005 when I fell pregnant and Alan got a job offer in Melbourne. We came, we visited, we loved the city so even in the hormonal cloud that I was living under we decided to go for it on the basis that we may never have such an opportunity again if we waited for the timing to be perfect. What’s perfect anyway?
So, rather than going on maternity leave with a plan to return to my role in 12 months time, I resigned not knowing when my next working days would be.
Fast forward to 2010 – I now have a 4 year old, 3 year old and almost 2 year old twins and I need to get back to work. My brain cells need a challenge!!
I find a job that is bizarrely similar to the one that I left in the UK so I apply. Naturally the issue of FT/PT is raised and I stress my desire not to work 5 days. We negotiate and I work FT for 12 months then reduced to 4. This was not a good period of time in my life. I missed being part of the kinder and school routines and all I can say is thank goodness Alan & I have a strong marriage.
At work there was always the not so silent ‘sigh’ as I rushed out the door at 5 to see the kids before bed and at home the “mummy why do you work every day” questions and kids playing up for the nanny. I frequently questioned what I was doing but I also asked myself “What are those people doing in the office after 5?” For sure some of them are working hard but many others are there to be seen to be working later.
I never wanted preferential treatment or recognition of my juggling act and I really hope some of the women I’ve worked with have children some day for all the joy it brings. The understanding of what you miss on on not being there for that kinder excursion, sports day or even to be the smiling face at school pick up should follow. These things are all too important in the minds of young kids and are things that once missed, we can never get back. On that note, given that my redundancy stems largely from the fact I don’t work FT, good luck to those females on the team if and when they have a family. I wonder if they’ll be forced to come back FT or if I’m different because I came to the job having already had kids. It has certainly opened my eyes to the lip service large institutions pay to promoting women returning to work.
So it was time for a change albeit a forced one. Immediately my mind drifted away from corporate to public sector to see what opportunities I could find or maybe a complete change – I’d love to do my teaching degree…..but that won’t pay the bills. One day I’ll get around to that!
I’m starting an exciting new role with Swinburne Online next month – a complete change of sector and working environment and a fantastic team judging by those I’ve met already. The next chapter awaits…..