I’m sure there is some old adage about only wanting a change when change isn’t an option, but I’m not much of a scholar so I have no idea what it is. However, this is the situation that I find myself in. From a rational perspective, I appreciate that I am very lucky. Times are hard and unemployment is high so I’m fortunate to have a well paid job, working with some great people and doing something I enjoy. But recently I’ve stopped enjoying my job and instead have started to feel trapped. Each day as I walk to work (yes, I am even lucky enough to work within walking distance of my house) I find myself working through the options in my head for getting out and progressing my career somewhere else. I’m sure that if I thought leaving was a viable option, it wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to want to go somewhere else. But now that there are barriers to leaving (most of which are probably self imposed – I did say I wasn’t thinking rationally) I dream of getting a new job almost every day.
So why don’t I just leave?? Because I want to have a baby. I’ve worked for my current employer for years. I’ve been there whilst colleagues have gone on maternity leave, come back to work after the baby and gone on maternity leave again. I’ve covered projects, picked up work at the last minute for mothers who have to leave to pick up children or care for poorly babies, worked late when others have left to do the nursery run and I have been happy to do all of it. I feel as if I’ve been spending years making deposits into the office goodwill bank on the understanding that when I have a baby, I’ll be able to cash them in and colleagues will happily cover for me when I have midwife appointments or child care issues. To leave now would be like walking away from the table without cashing in my chips. I know if I got a new job my employer would still be required to let me go to antenatal appointments etc but at my current place I think people would be genuinely happy for me, not just complying with the law. After so long in one place, starting a new job would be hard regardless of the circumstances and I can’t help but feel that it would be even harder if I were to announce to a pregnancy to a new employer and colleagues within months of arriving.
In addition to the goodwill, there are also the financial considerations, my current employer pays enhanced maternity pay which I would be unlikely to be eligible for at a new firm without having completed a period of service before getting pregnant.
Finally, there is the question of what job I would do if I left. I’ve always believed that if you try to have it all in every part of your life, ultimately you are going to fail (or at least be constantly stressed). Instead, I identified what elements I felt would give me the biggest sense of fulfilment and decided that I would be prepared to have a good (but not world class) career if it meant that I could also be a mum that did the school run and didn’t miss a sports day. Oh yes, I had it all worked out and I have been actively pursuing my goal for years. A good but manageable, job – check. Great husband – check. House close to work, schools and nursery – check. Baby – ah, a problem, repeat miscarriages and time spent trying to conceive mean that the final ‘check’ on my perfect life list has not been very forthcoming. I guess it’s true that the universe hates a planner!
I not ready to give up on my dream of being a mum (not for a long time) but if it’s not going to happen then I don’t want just an ok job. If I don’t need to make the career/motherhood compromise then I’m damn well going to be a fantastic, first rate, top of my industry career woman. The problem is, I feel like by waiting to achieve plan A, I’m losing valuable opportunities to achieve great things with plan B. So this is my catch 22, do I quit my safe but unchallenging job and focus on climbing the career ladder as quickly as possible (realising that the risk of future miscarriages and fertility treatments may make shining in a new job particularly difficult, if not impossible) or do I have faith that a successful pregnancy is just around the corner and I will be able to achieve my plan A even if it took a little longer than hoped? And the big question is, would I even want to get a new job if my current difficulties with having a baby hadn’t made me feel like it wasn’t an option?