But it was not that thought out. It was just a gut thing. So I asked for extended unpaid leave, again a privilege I know, and I got one year. I was not intending to use that whole year, it just gave me time to find a new job as we had transferred to Cambodia. And then I was offered a job….. and I struggled between what I thought I should do –take the job- and what deep down I knew I wanted to do.
As fate would have it, I became accidently pregnant again, which gave me a fantastic excuse to turn the job down, and ask for another year of unpaid leave. So it was only after almost two and a half years that I had to accept the fact that I was not willing or able to go back to a 9 to 5 job, (and I’ll take this opportunity to highlight that they are never actually 9-5).
It was quite a shock really. I did not expect that from myself. So I entered this rollercoaster where my identity and self worth were thrown completely off.
Nearly four years later it seems that the plan I set out has worked. I work mostly from home. In exchange for a few weeks of travel a year, I get to stay home the rest of the time, and have extended holidays that I can enjoy with my children. Working from home means that even though I am working, earning money, and continue to have a career, I can have breakfast and lunch with them, pick them up from school, take them to play groups (some times). As long as I get the job done, it is up to me how I distribute my time.
Recently as the holiday season hit and I finished my last job of the year I accepted that I would be effectively unemployed for a while. Work rarely comes in at that time of the year. And I was ok with it. Free to decorate the house, go visit Santa, look after the grandparents, wrap the presents. Then January came and went. And as February stretched out I –like most freelancers-begun to panic. I was waiting for news from all the CVs sent before the year had wrapped. As the days passed with an empty in box, I begun to fear I would never get work again. Ever.
Then February turned out to be a very generous month. I am currently booked up for the entire year, and February is not even used up. Of course, they are all happening at the same time, and I am faced with the fact that -if I take all the work offered, I will be traveling on a monthly basis from January until May, ten to fourteen days at a time. And so, the other shoe drops. Is this too much? How will my constant absence affect the children? Should I turn some work down? (my husband seems completely bewildered I even consider this option)
You see, children cannot express themselves. Well, they can, but they rarely make any sense, at least mine which are two and three years old. So I cannot use them as a gauge. They are important to me. But so is my identity as an independent and valuable member of society. I also work because I want them to have a feminine role model that they can look up to (not that not working is not positive, this is just my choice as a parent).
And so, I struggle. Again. Does it ever get any easier?