Well, that was the year that was. My year of maternity leave has officially come to an end and tomorrow marks my 1st day back at work. But work not as I know it.
As I’ve previously eluded, my prior role was a senior one working for a major international corporate organisation. It was fun, it was challenging and, at times, it was pretty stressful. It was not compatible with my desired version of family life. The 3 hour round commute was probably one of the major points but the fact that I had previously given so much of myself to my old job was the real reason I had to make a change following something of moment of clarity. I’d had a relatively straightforward pregnancy up until around 30 weeks after which cankles, SPD and high blood pressure reared their ugly heads. I ploughed on regardless, working towards the golden egg of a promised promotion and with it a nice bonus to make my maternity leave a little more luxurious (theoretically!). I carried on my daily commute, juggled a million and one priorities and chose to ignore my bulging feet and these pretty sparkly twinkles that kept appearing in my vision from time to time.
At my 34 week check I had the regular blood pressure and pee on a stick checks expecting nothing more than a bit of a ticking off from the midwife and a chastising lecture about taking it easy. The midwife asked ‘ does your husband work nearby’ and I thought, what a nice lady she must have to make chit chat all day. ‘Yes’ I confirmed ‘he’s only 1/2 a mile away’. ‘Brilliant’ said the midwife ‘I won’t have to get you an ambulance to take you up to the hospital’. Turns out the cankles and sparkly vision were pre-eclampsia brewing up nicely. This was the aforementioned moment of clarity.
As we raced up to the hospital, my overriding thought was how those late nights at work, the pressured presentations and team management nightmares were so not worth what I had potentially sacrificed. What had I done? I’ll fill you in another time in what happened next (as this was supposed to be a worky blog, but I have digressed!)but the overall outcome was thankfully positive for me and my lovely cheeky monkey is perfect in every way.
But I knew then that I needed to refocus. To redefine who I wanted to be, where and with whom. And suddenly, family meant a lot more to me than the people choosing whether I was good enough to have earned promotion. And those people were ultimately only ever going to be fairly transient in my life rather than my family.
So tomorrow I won’t be picking up a tall latte for the train journey arriving at my fancy offices and directing around 75 people on our business strategy for supplier management. I’ll give my boy his milk and weetabix when he gets up & not when I need to fit with the train timetable. I’ll drive 5 mins to his nursery, drop him off then drive another 5 mins to my ‘new’ tiny office on an anonymous trading estate and make my mum and dad an instant coffee. Don’t worry I’m working on getting a nespresso machine 😉
I appreciate I’m very fortunate to have a supportive family who have their own business that they are allowing me to join. I’m also under no illusions that it’s going to be easy. Working effectively for myself (& therefore not being quite sure how much and when I’m going to be paid) combined with the family dynamic will undoubtedly bring a different set of challenges. But right now, it feels…..well right. I’ll keep you posted on how long that lasts for!