Life has a strange sense of irony. There I was, toing and froing during my maternity leave about what the perfect work/life balance was, if downshifting and spending more time at home was the right road for me or whether I should make use of the skills and knowledge I have and be a working mum.
Just as I'd made my decision to remain in work but maybe try and see if I could reduce my hours at some point in the nearish future; just when I'd returned to work and realised how fab it was to be able to focus your attention on a task at hand instead of the constant multitasking and attending to needy preschoolers (as much as I may enjoy it), when I'd just made my mind up that a 3 day working week was the perfect work/life balance for me at this point in life, I'm told that by the end of the year I'd be out of a job.
To which my reaction as something along the lines of not being sure whether to laugh or to cry. I wasn't devastated when I heard the news, having thought the thought I was prepared. There are rather a few ideas, sparks of opportunity, flying around in my head. None of that compares to the rather snug situation of being in employed work, but you know, I find it easy to fill my days and there were even some exciting plans of what I could do instead of employed work for the sake of trying things out.
Just that the bottom line is that I didn't choose redundancy. It still is imposed and for that, unwelcome. Particularly so in a time of general recession, knowing that if I take a career break now, I'll most likely have missed the career train for good.
There are bitter thoughts too, about the fact that in the middle of my life, with lots of skills and experience behind me, there is no job security, that like many others in a similar situation, I'm so easily dispensable. Bitter thoughts too about the glass ceiling and the way that having put my career on hold due to juggling work and family life, it seems the only route is down when I know that if I set my mind to it and didn't have a family, the route could be up.
Then there is the look into the future: Any employed work in my field is offered on a non job share, full time basis. Effectively, through redundancy I am made to choose between career or my family. I do not wish to work full time at this point in life, but I also do not wish to be a stay at home mum. However, there is no in between. While there is a choice, the choice is not at all satisfactory or even acceptable to me. Flexible working hours are for the most part, at least in my field of work, a luxury for those within paid employment. If you have to change jobs, even within the same organisation, they disappear into thin air.
So what will my plan of action be? Will I consider full time employment opportunities? Will I take the money and run, set up as a bilingual/trilingual childminder with lots of outdoor play time for the kids? Will I return to teaching and depend on sessional work and face the childcare nightmare that entails? Will I become, against all expectations that I ever held in my life, a stay at home mum?
Decision making has never been my strength. I've been through the arguments. The issue is the lack of a solution that actually works for me. That 3 day a week job, that unfortunately doesn't actually exist.