Grateful for a More Relaxed Job
It has taken me over 6 months but I am now so grateful for the relatively easy job I came back to after finishing maternity leave in March this year.
It has seriously taken me this long to realise that the short work days are a gift, not a curse, that it’s okay to not want to seek a promotion if I want to have a life outside the office and that I shouldn’t be guilty for being a full-time mum, first and part-time worker, second.
Seriously, I think I had a bit of a God complex going on there for a while, particularly before I went off on maternity leave in April 2010. I was working 5 days a week during school hours but somehow packing in virtually a full-time load in that period of time. I certainly felt as if I had the responsibility of the world on my shoulders although I was merely responsible for workforce reporting (HR stuff like reporting on staff leave, staff being paid, staff coming in and out of our business – important to a small number of people, but clearly not to the entire world!)
I was responsible for the smooth running of a team that I was not actually the manager for. I was working a level above my pay packet but not being recognised nor properly remunerated for my efforts. I was stressed out trying to make it all work in the hours I was there, while, in reality, it really wasn’t my problem to stress about.
I worked my butt off before I left to ensure I left no loose ends, that everyone knew what they needed to do and that the team would keep producing quality reports during my absence. I did this, while heavily pregnant with Delilah Bear, because I genuinely cared for my team, for the work we did as well as for my professional reputation.
About a month after I left, I heard that the team was being disbanded and the workforce reporting responsibility was being transferred to another office. I was professionally devastated – that was MY role, MY responsibility, MY passion. I was also personally worried – what role would I go back to? Would I have to start worrying about looking for a new position while caring for a newborn? Would anyone take me on knowing I would probably have to work even less hours than before I left?
Luckily for me, the other part of my team, the finance area took me on and I entered a new world on my return to the office in March 2011. I can’t say finance is my first choice of career (let’s just say my history with maths shows that normally numbers and myself do not mix!) but it has been quite an interesting diversion so far. It has also been a humbling one as I have had to learn everything from scratch and assume a different role in the team.
Instead of being the most trusted voice, the most experienced team member, the most vocal critic, I am now the newbie in the team, asking all the silly and obvious questions. 6 months on, I’m still trying to gain confidence in a new field, still trying to find a foothold on the slippery slope of finance, still feeling a bit like a tourist in a foreign land. This has been a hard adjustment for me, the one with the God complex, the one who thought she was so important.
Initially I was impatient with the lack of responsibility and frustrated that I couldn’t do everything myself. I was so used to running my own race, directing the work of others and taking on the responsibility of dealing with senior leaders. At first, the prospect of not having defined responsibilities due to my limited work hours and the rigid demands of the finance area really did grate on me.
I hated the shackles of working defined hours. I loathed leaving at 2.30pm each day, having to pass on any unfinished work to other members of the team. I felt like I wasn’t pulling my weight, that everyone else in the team, including my manager, thought I wasn’t doing enough, that I was not adding any value to the team.
However, this whole process has been the best thing that ever happened to me.
It has opened my eyes to what is really important (my family) and has allowed me to appreciate how lucky I am. Yes, I can go home at 2.30pm every afternoon and spend some quality time with the kids. Yes, I am not solely responsible for finance reporting and that is fine by me. I am not a slacker for not being able to do a full-time load in part-time hours. I am a valued member of the team even though I work fewer hours and have no defined responsibilities.
I have finally accepted that I cannot have it all. I cannot be a great mother and a full-time worker at the same time. So I choose to be a great full-time mother and a great part-time worker.
That is why I am (belatedly) grateful for having a more relaxed job that allows me to be there for my kids, while also allowing me to add value to my team. You really can’t ask for much more, can you?
For all the working parents out there – what are your thoughts on your level of responsibility at work? How have you balanced the demands of parenting with those of your employer? Are you satisfied in your role?
Linking up with Maxabella Loves for this week’s I’m Grateful link-up.
Do you want to become a more positive special needs parent?
Sign up to grab your free guide now! Full of practical advice from a fellow special needs parent.