“Are you working at the moment?”. This is a question I remember being asked a few months after becoming a new mum. My body was a mess, I was severely sleep deprived, my mood was all over the place and I was struggling with breast feeding. I felt like laughing. How could I possibly have been working at this time? How could anyone expect someone in my situation to be “working” on top of the 24+ day I was already pulling at home. Some women do it out of necessity or drive and I applaud them but for me at that particular point in time I could not have been working.
Fast forward to nine months later – my baby was one and I was still at home. I had toyed with the idea of going back to work but logistics of having to arrange childcare, needing to find work and already being pregnant for a second time meant that this did not happen before I gave birth to my beautiful baby number two.
Now I’ve been “working at home” for more than 2 years.
Some things play on my mind about this. Will I ever be hired again? Should I find a job so we are more financially secure? What type of work do I want to do when it is time to go back? Should I do further study and change careers so that I can have a job that fits in better with my family? I fear sometimes that I’ve made all the wrong choices – that I shouldn’t have traveled when I did, that I had accepted the wrong jobs and taken time out when I shouldn’t have. I fear making these decisions has meant that I will never be successful.
My career before becoming a mother was as a lawyer with a brief stint in marketing during my time living in the USA. The things I liked the most about working were the intellectual stimulation, having my own income stream, the feeling of achieving something and the social aspect of mixing with colleagues. The things I don’t miss are the work politics, difficult personalities (especially the difficult managers) and general work stress. With having a family I could also do without the commute that often comes from tradition forms of working.
Do I want to be a lawyer? There was always a voice inside me that would answer “no” to this question. I completed and Arts and a Law degree as I was convinced it was a good general degree to have.
There are some areas that interest me. I felt for a long time an interest in health care and an interest in working in a hospital setting. I also have an interest in corporate cohesion i.e. working to achieve harmony and productivity within an organisation through implementing good policies and procedures.
There are other more fleeting thoughts I’ve had about changing careers. I’ve day dreamed of having studied alternate careers such as psychology, physiotherapy, nursing, education and even various paths within medicine for perceived convenience and compatibility with having children.
So what am I called to do in the world of work and what is it that I truly want to do? Are some of the areas I am interested in an indication that I should pursue that route or are they indications about something else? Do I in fact want to return to work? I guess with this question my thoughts are percolating. There is no one direction I feel I am definitively called.
What I think would be ideal in my situation would be a role where I can work at home for a few days a week between about the hours of 9 and 3pm. But does such a position, which truly uses my skills and talents, exist?
What does Ignatian Discernment have to say about where I currently am with these percolating thoughts? I will ask for guidance on this when I next speak with my spiritual director in two weeks about this, hopefully get some guidance and post it here…