The last few months were testing.
Within a month after returning to work from maternity leave, redundancy was looming, and it looked as good as certain that I had no choice in the matter and would lose my job. And while in a sense everything is an opportunity, if the opportunity is not a choice, it is rather less attractive than it would otherwise be. In a way, redundancy had some attraction, what with two children in nursery, the logistical nightmare of juggling work, nursery run and generally work and family, and the feeling that it's difficult to do both parenting and work justice.
However, having had that discussion during my maternity leave, I also admit that I'm not the best of parent if I do it 24/7. Yes, work and parenting stresses me out, particularly if the evening meal has to be cooked with two tired and moaning children in toe or when pre-schooler won't cooperate to get out of the house in the morning. But parenting alone is no less stressful. I often wonder if the fact that I became a parent later in life means that I find it difficult to go with the flow because I was so used to be in control of my life - when now even the simplest of things can be a massive effort of organisation, persistence and determination. The bottom line is that I enjoy work and the opportunity for getting things done without major distractions.
The situation changed from imposition to having an element of choice, or at least it was no longer definite that I'd be hit by redundancy. Then the question of working hours came in and long representations were made, and listened to. Redundancy was still going to happen, but it was delayed and my working hours reduced. There were internal opportunities for different roles, I applied, messed up the interview for a job that was exciting but also so demanding that I wasn't sure I was cut out for it. I applied for a second internal job and this time got it. Redundancy, for now, is far off the horizon. However I'd lost some fab colleagues.
While all of this was happening, I was also trying to do a full time job in 3 days a week. Most evenings were spent at the computer trying to make ends meet, trying to fill the gaps of the day. During the week of the second interview, I organised and ran an event while I also prepared for an interview and did the whole organising Christmas stuff. I experienced literally running on edge. Insomnia, worry, and questions that shake the core. I'm a pretty stable person but truth be told, I couldn't do that week again tomorrow. It would crack me up.
But it's over. It's all good. I have the job of my dreams - well, as close as it gets in real life; but really, it's a fab new role that I truly believe in and that I'm totally committed to. I have it on part time hours. I have it from April which means I can complete my current work properly. There couldn't have been a better outcome.
The main outcome for me though is that I can truly relax and breathe for Christmas. That I can enjoy the break rather than continue the worry and anxiety. There was a time when I took unemployment and new routes in my life at a stride. With children, this is no longer the case, stability and security have become my best mates.
So for the next two weeks, I shall be able to enjoy spending time with my family without the constant worry that distracts me. I'm looking forward to a bit of knitting and reading, to playing and going for walks, to conversations that don't revolve around redundancy.
And I'm extremely thankful for this. Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas everyone!