Today is an important day. It is Tuesday the 31st jan 2017 and its my last official day working for Oasis fashions. So important that I’m breaking my long standing rule of NO wine on a Tuesday. Its a weird one as I have actually been on maternity leave for the last 10 months so not actually been there, but in theory its a big day. I have been in that job for 9 whole years. 9 years is a really long time and so much has happened in my life in that period of time and its been my work mates who I have probably seen the most. They have seen me through 3 babies and a wedding, let alone all the crazy nights out, trips abroad, comedy moments, drama and tears.
It was my decision to leave my job of 9 years but to be honest I think the powers that be really wanted me to make that decision. I was the first person ever to have a third child that I know of. I was complicated for them. But ultimately I pulled the plug.
Let me start from the beginning, I went back to work after having Jesse, my second son, Flexibly, to be fair to them. Working a 4 day week starting at 10am so i could take my eldest to school. I lived an hour and half’s commute from work. It was ok, I made out like it was ok but it was fucking hard. For me there was never an option that I wouldn’t go back. I wanted to go back and earn money and do my job. But Two long distance, torturous trips a year, a couple of more enjoyable shorter ones, two kids in 2 different places and the guilt of school, the constant stress of being late and missing trains… IT WAS REALLY FUCKING HARD.
At that time, every time I had some alcohol with any director they would always ask me…. ‘are you going to have a third?’ It was obvious it was one of their favourite, drunken speculative chats. My boss would say ‘ you are such a good mummy, why don’t you concentrate on that? Now for any working mum, that’s an insult. I would reply I want to be a mummy and a designer. How the hell did he know I was a great mummy? How would being a mummy pay my mortgage? (or my zara and sneaker habit?) Now I’m one of those people who cant lie. I literally cant help it. All of you who know me, know that I wear my heart on my sleeve, its almost like a tick. I cant help but show how I am feeling. Even if I don’t say it out loud, you can see by the look on my face how I am feeling. My husband thinks its hilarious. So easy to read. So when they asked me, I would answer honestly….. ‘I’m not saying yes but I’m not saying no’. This was the honest truth. We always wanted a third child but never knew if we would be able to as number two was hard to come by. My sensible career head would say ‘don’t tell them, as you will never get a pay rise or promotion’ but I just couldn’t help it. I cant lie and I always had the belief that a third child wouldn’t make any difference to my job or career any way, I would show them. I really thought I could carry on doing the job I liked and was good at. I thought they would just let me off the long distance travel. I was wrong, They wouldn’t. The deal I had was already a bit flexible, there was no way anything else would flex, no matter how good I was at my job.
To be honest as I went on maternity leave with Charlie, I wasn’t 100% that I would go back. But after 6 months of being off, we had a chat and decided I would go back for at least a year and see how it went. When I found out that the travel was non-negotiable it pushed me into questioning everything. I was expected to do 7 or 8 day long haul trips to china and a couple of shorter ones closer to home twice a year. Up until children I had always enjoyed the travel. It was hard work but such an adventure and I was lucky enough to travel with some amazing people that made such a difference. But after 4 years of doing it post children and learning to accept the fear,(see previous post on THE fear) baby number 3 meant no more travel for me. I just couldn’t do it to my husband and kids.
We have always been one of those couples where we both pay for everything and we share the responsibility for everything else. Household, childcare, finances etc. So the idea of not paying my way was one I had to really contemplate. Even if it meant that the balance shifted and I paid my way with mothering, homemaking, cleaning and washing. It was such a massive leap to make. I always wondered if I could work for myself doing the job I did? But I was so worried about not getting that monthly pay cheque or the 25 days paid holiday. I had been pushed into a corner and I really started to think I could do it. It went round and round my head. My mind was literally like a pendulum, swinging back and forth between the two options. It was a chat with a very good friend over some wine that the light was switched on. She said ‘Lucy, you are teetering on the edge of a cliff and deciding whether to jump or not’
So here I am having actually jumped. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make and I’m sure one of the hardest decision any mum has to make. I have total respect for the mums who don’t have to make the decision, that its clear cut for them. Either way.. working, not working or trying to work for yourself, whatever you decide to do, it will be the right decision if it feels right.
Now I find myself unemployed for the first time I can remember since my first job at 14. I worked through all of uni, I worked every holiday, I never quit a job unless I had another to go to. But this is where I have to remind myself… I do have a job, a really bloody hard one that sometimes I’m great at and sometimes I’m totally shit at.
No one is going to give me an appraisal, (well Jesse is fond of a critique at the moment ‘you are rubbish mummy, I hate you’) I’m definitely not getting a pay rise ( unless I can actually get some freelance work) I don’t have any time to read books- am I the only nutter who will miss their commute? But I am really happy. I am really happy and really excited.. The unknown is ahead and I can maybe do some creative stuff. Look for freelance work, meet some new people, do something challenging and maybe even get paid for it.
The other thing about leaving my job where I had been so long is that I got THE best send off. So much love and such nice things that people wrote or said. My confidence is sky high. So for me taking the leap rather than just teetering feeling like I’m rubbish at my job and being mama was totally the right decision. Now I feel like I can do anything and be there for my boys as much as I want to be. The difference is, i’ll just be skint.
P.S. Follow and support @mother_pukka, she is championing #flexappeal. Now this is the future for working mums or mums who want to be working.