All change please

I met a lady the other day who has given up her career in health visiting to become a therapist in alternative medicine. . She described her training as, ‘life changing’ and listening to her; watching her speak, her experience is visceral -for her and for me.

The joy she gleaned from learning about something different and it became the impetus for a lifestyle revision and placing it alongside a neighbours recollection of their career change, the disaffection of careers and motherhood was apparent.  They too had become disillusioned by their role, this time in education and sought to apply their craft in its purest form, through drawing for a living rather than teaching others to do so. made over a decade ago, “the move”, she recounts firmly, ‘was the very  the best thing she ever did”. And as she says this you believe her- struck by the notion of a gut decision, regarding something that she knew was right for her and her family.

Each account has been framed as an epiphany type episode , a decision made in an instant after hearing the latest vagal dispatch of unhappiness. They were not happy , they recognised it, they did something about it. If I listen to my gut then perhaps I could make the change too.

The desire to do the same has overcome me on more than one occasion. The dream to write – not to teach others to do it, has run on throughout my life. But I have never tried do so professionally. One reason is doubt in my ability , the other is the children and the impact it would have if I were to take a job that required me to work outside of school hours. So the dream became a hobby, but going back to my teaching role this year ,the idea has wandered back in. It is my gut feeling that I should take the plunge, follow my desire and hearing the  lifechanging decisions of people in my life,  has made me wonder further about my own choices.

There was , of course, another thought cheering them on. Their role as a mother. Certainly , ‘The Artist’ recalls how the travails of motherhood had put pressure on their time , constraining their availability to work and so made looking for suitable work tricky. They said, “Its like having two jobs and being expected to work both full time, you cant do it”.

“Except”, we both laughed, “you have to!”.

And if you are lucky enough to be a single Mum, you may need benefit support; in which case the expectation is that you do do it. You make yourself available for work. Not an issue for most, however the bone of contention for many, is the amount of hours that you are expected to make yourself available. 25 hours a week in my case, with a child of 5 in school. This is fine until you factor in school holidays- to which my work coaches response is-,”well what about childcare?”

Childcare is , extortionate and taking away the economic implications, there is also the fact that, it is , for some of us , it is just not an option. I brought my children into this world to raise them myself not to have someone else do it for me. I didn’t factor in the doing it independently but that doesn’t mean to say that my child should be made to endure childcare because of my failure (if you want to call it that) in having a solid relationship. In June last year, the work coach and I scrolled for employment vacancies together and suitable roles were limited. All were for 48 weeks a year. Most for 37 hours per week. She looked at me expectantly and I shrugged my shoulders. “I cant do that”, I said stoicly.

“Well you need to be a bit more flexible”, she states.

Right“, I reply, “or perhaps the rules need to include a little more flexibility for people in my situation”.

The coach frowned and I continued, “You are assuming a stalwart of support and suitable childcare availability, neither which I have”.

Silence and she looks at me and then at the screen. Feeling emboldened I decide to continue,” and perhaps a consideration in the labour market of an increase of part time roles for Mums who would like to do something else other than teach. 

“But you are a teacher,” she argues.

“Yes I know that- but what if I didn’t want to teach anymore?”, I finish feeling flustered (as she is right) , and lean back in my chair.

She didn’t respond and I didn’t expect her to as the question was beyond her role – and it was maybe unfair of me to have raised the issue with her.

Instead , I considered all this and with time running out before I received a sanction, I receded – I am limited and it saddens me that I can’t make the change that I feel my gut is demanding.

Of course change is inevitable and so after speaking to another neighbour about her passion for her job a few weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge and I applied for a job as a community reporter. I pushed aside the maternal worries and sent over my CV with the words, “life is too short to be going to a job you dislike”, still rolling around in my mind.

And i waited. And I thought about what I had done and was excited but before long there was something else bothering me. That something else, slapped me in the face when I heard nothing from the news desk. I was disappointed. Disappointment which highlighted to me just how much I want to write but also disappointed that i could even have considered leaving the kids at a point when they and I am not really ready for me to.

Ok, technically I wouldn’t be leaving them, but I would be making the kind of change that, they, especially smallest would struggle with. I couldn’t do that.

So perhaps that was my epiphany.

I too have grasped the messages being communicated by my vagal nerve. The discomfort of chasing something at odds with what I have, was too much for me to bear and so I have turned around and decided to stop seeking change and sit with what I have.

It might not be what I want forever but its certainly where I am happiest for now.

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