Today is a significant date. Today, Charlotte turns 18 months old. It’s the day on which, two years ago, I told my employer I was pregnant. And today was the day I handed in my notice to leave my job.
It’s fair to say it wasn’t the plan I had in mind when I came to the end of my maternity leave last summer. I had hoped to stay in my job part time and demonstrate to Charlotte that you don’t have to choose between being a mum and having a career. But it didn’t prove possible as my working hours didn’t fit around Charlotte’s needs so here I am.
It’s a strange feeling to walk away from the job I’ve been in for 12 and a half years and the career for which I trained. It’s the end of an era and I’ll miss the people I’ve worked alongside, and the many different people from all walks of life I’ve come into contact with in the course of my work.
But far greater than that, it’s a huge opportunity. It’s a chance to explore different work possibilities and, for the first time, to fit my work around my life rather than the other way round. It’s an opportunity to care for Charlotte full time and see her grow and develop, and to avoid some of the mum guilt that can come from trying to balance work and family life. It’s a chance to model to Charlotte that you can be a mum and undertake other equally meaningful but different work, whether that’s through employment, self-employment or some other outlet.
A few months ago I thought it was important that Charlotte grew up understanding that you don’t need to give up a job or a career when you become a mum. It turned out that, actually, sometimes you do. However, I don’t want this post to become negative because, for me at least, having to walk away from what was once my day job is a positive.
Yes, there are things I’ll miss. Yes, it’s going to be strange walking away from something that has been a significant part of my identity for so long. But it’s the start of a new chapter, a new season and a new opportunity.
Eighteen months ago I was appointed to a new day job. With no interview, no selection process and no training I received a new job title and a new name all in one – Mummy. Being Mummy is a full-time job. Now I am in the privileged position that, unlike many, I don’t have to fit that full-time job around another full-time job.
I’ve realised in recent days that the most important lesson Charlotte can learn from this isn’t that you don’t need to give up a job or a career when you become a mum; it’s that, whether you’re a parent or not, your life should never be in your employer’s hands, and it’s down to you, with God’s guidance, to shape it in whatever way works best for you and your family.
In leaving my job, I’ve been handed an invaluable opportunity to truly work to live rather than living to work. I know I’m fortunate to find myself in a position that not everyone finds themselves in, but where career goals are concerned, I can’t think of any better example to set my daughter.
And, aside from work, careers and money, this milestone will give Charlotte – and Mummy, for that matter – a valuable lesson in seasonal change. In the Bible, Ecclesiastes chapter three tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to plant and a time to uproot…”
Today I uproot my old familiar working life ready to plant the seeds of a new working life – one in which, for now at least, I can focus on being my own boss and fitting my work around my family rather than the other way round.
It’s a time for change and change can be unsettling but it can also be exciting. I’m excited to see what the future holds for me and my family, and I know from the promise in Jeremiah chapter 29, verse 11, that God’s plans are to prosper me, not to harm me, and to give me a hope and a future.
I’ll leave you with the words of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verses 12-13: “ I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift of God.”