As I write this blog, I am approximately five and a half weeks away from walking out on my job.
The news of my resignation prompted a somewhat surprised response. My family panicked over my future, my friends kept utilising the word ‘brave’ in a way that could have meant either courageous or stupid, and the people I work with were hopeful of something changing my mind.
Nobody was more surprised than me. I love my job, but there’s a lot of stress attached to it, whereby, if my career was the main focus of my life I’d continue to cope, but as a Foster Carer or parent as well, it’s just not manageable. In making the decision to quit, I’d come to be a little more realistic about my future.
In the New Year, my husband and I are due to take on a new fostering placement, and it’s looking like we could be taking on a sibling group. That’s right, two kids. Let’s be mindful that The Boy is still very much part of our lives/family despite having gone off to university, and remember that I would also like to have my own kids in the future as well. Don’t even get me started on coping with the cat and the dog through all of this in addition. My workload is going to increase; it’s just a case of at what rate.
Capstone were delighted when I told them I’d resigned. They’d always been supportive and respectful of my previous decision to continue with my career, but owing to all of the other things I’m involved with in my active life, they’d worried that I’d struggle to retain my current lifestyle and be the most involved Foster Carer I could be.
My job has a lot of flexibility attached to it, but no employed role is ever so completely flexible that you can just leave at any given moment when the phone-call comes in to say that your kid has been excluded from school or that an emergency meeting needs to take place with the authorities. I know things like this could happen in ‘mainstream’ families and they’d cope, but in Foster Care there will always be a stronger likelihood, owing to the mass influx of things going on that young person’s life, and the agencies that want their piece of it. Likewise, a more traditional family would be able to call upon a relative to make the pick-up or attend the meeting if the parent could not be there, but with fostering, such is the sensitivity of these events, it really needs to be you as the prime carer present to deal with it all.
Amid some of the responses I got to my decision, there were a few that irked me. They were largely along the lines of, “Oh you can just focus on being a mum now”. I don’t like the idea of being defined by a singular role in my life, and would prefer to be described by a culmination of them. Any work responsibilities, voluntary pursuits, background adventures or personal hobbies; they all make up the being that is you.
I’ve been hearing the label ‘stay at home mum’ quite a bit, and I find it disrespectful – whoever says it. If you choose to leave behind a job to focus on raising your kids, no doubt you are busier and more in demand than you would be in a full time job, and at certain times in your daily role I doubt you’re even staying at home! I’m keen to rid people, including my future self, of that label.
Yes I’ll be a mum, and yes I’ll be all of the things I talked about in the blog that preceded this one, but if I’m going to do this well, and if I’m going to prove to be a good role model for my kids through all of it, make no mistake; I won’t be staying at home, and I won’t be labelled as anything other than the whole person I know I am, and the potential person I know I can be.