Today I felt sorry for myself. The kids were off out having fun – without me – while I was working. Boo hiss. That is the rubbish part of the summer holidays – not being able to spend every minute with my family. And while I was feeling sorry for myself sat at my desk, calculating the cost to a pension scheme of a member having enhanced benefits at retirement (exciting stuff! No, really!) I had a bit of an epiphany. Kind of. I say kind of because the same realisation hits me every few months so this is nothing new – I am incredibly lucky. Really, stupidly lucky.
I love my job (most of the time!).
I enjoy what I do. For the last 10 years I’ve had the best job. It’s very me – lots of maths and lots of spreadsheets. It’s what I’m good at. I have a well paid, responsible job that allows me to work flexibly and part time. Between us, my husband and I, have covered off pretty much all of the morning and afternoon school runs since our eldest started school 10 years ago. Whenever the children have been ill we’ve been able to juggle our working week to be there for them. That’s pretty cool.
I work with friends – and family!
My bosses were my friends decades before they became my bosses – we’ve worked together one way or another since the early 90s. That makes for a great, respectful working relationship. But not only that – many of my colleagues are also friends. Some have been friends for many, many years – others I met through my job. I work with my husband and have done so for the last 6 years. Now don’t get me wrong I actually objected to this for a long time before he took a job with us. I was seriously worried about living and working together but it turns out all my fears were unjustified. It works excellently for us. In particular it means we can juggle childcare on the spot. I may be meant to be doing the school run but if I get tied up with work he can just step in and take over.
I have live in childcare (for now).
So even though I have to work some of the school holidays, do I have to juggle childcare and holiday clubs like so many of my friends? No. Grandparents have moved in with us for 2 months and they are arranging childcare duties around their vacation. And we have 2 more sets of grandparents eager to spend time with the children. Plus Ad and I each have 1 day a week at home anyway – he works part time too! So childcare is sorted without much thought or effort.
For most of us this is why we work. To pay bills, to have nice things, to have holidays. I know it’s not the be all and end all. I know that what is most important to a child is time and not the “things” that money buys. But there has to be a balance. I want my children to have experiences to enrich their lives – go places, see things, work out what it is they love, find a passion and enjoy life. And most of this costs. But actually, for us, the balance is about right. I hope. We will never be rich and I hope we’ll never be broke. But if we have enough money to do the things we want to and enough time to be able to do those things together then that suits me just fine.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
I like the balance I have between being mom and working. Sometimes I feel like I fail at juggling responsibilities as the pendulum swings one way or the other. But on the whole it works. I need to work – for me. I couldn’t be a stay at home mom even though I’ve sometimes craved it over the years. (Although I’m guessing if I were rich enough to have the choice I’d learn to love it!) If ever there was a time to do that it was years ago when the children were tiny. Not now when they’re often at school or doing their own thing. If that means that I feel I’m missing out on the odd day of school holiday fun then so be it. It’s actually a very small price to pay.
I know so many people who would love to have the career and working environment that I have – and here I am lamenting that I have to be there at all. So I got a grip. My life works for me. It wouldn’t work for everyone I’m sure. But I should quit moaning about having to work and admit that this is the life I’ve chosen, and more importantly, the life I want.
So what have the kids been up to without me? Fruit picking with Dad meant they could make apple and blackcurrant crumble and blackberry ice cream. They’ve been to the cinema, a model village, explored the Licky Hills, visited a donkey sanctuary, been to Stratford Upon Avon, Cheddar Gorge, Weston Supermare. The list goes on and on. They’ve had a ball. Without me. And that’s totally fine.