Which game? The game of life! That might sound a bit dramatic but that was how I felt last Friday when I heard I have a new job. Being unemployed and also not a mother had left me a little adrift. It’s been more than a year since I had a paid job. It took quite a while to become comfortable with the situation, and even quite a while to figure out why I was uncomfortable. I should have been happy, my last job sucked* so now I was free. My time was my own, I had the luxury of starting all those rainy day projects that I had been meaning to get around to. And I had time to figure out what the next steps in my life were going to be, instead of rushing into something that I wouldn’t really enjoy.
*The job itself wasn’t that bad, it was however, a terrible fit for me at the time and certain aspects of it drove me crazy no matter how hard I tried to not worry about them.
Instead of enjoying my time and exploring new exploits I spent many days in a funk, bummed out and generally not feeling very inspired. Even though I’m an independent spirit it can still be hard to be self-motivated. At the same time I was recovering from the knowledge that my ovaries were no good. I’m truly sorry if this offends anyone, but even though I’m in my mid-thirties, having children still seemed like a fall-back option to me. This is not a sentiment that I’ve come across on any other ‘infertility blog’! It’s not that I’m specifically looking for a child-free lifestyle, rather that I wanted to find my own sense of purpose before becoming a mother. I never saw myself as the ‘mothering-type’. Some friends have actually commented that this would work in my favour as I would not likely turn out as a ‘helicopter parent’.
When I was a teenager I struggled with the question of ‘what do you want to become?’. I was good at school so my choices should have been many, but for whatever reason I had trouble visualising becoming any particular profession. In the end I chose science because I was looking for something useful and interesting. Fast forward a few years (or decades?!) and I found myself with a failed science career, the inability to cope with a well paying yet mind-fuck of a 9-5 job and infertility. The infertility seemed like another nail in the coffin. I wanted a really stimulating science career, but that didn’t work out so I compromised and got a more standard job, but that didn’t work out so I thought ‘at least I can provide my family with children’. My feelings of failure were not so much along the lines of ‘I am built to bear children and that is my role as a woman’, as ‘I tried to have a career before I had children and now I don’t have either!’. I found myself back in the same place, mentally, as when I was a teenager, wondering what my place in the world was and doubting what I had to offer.
And it’s hard when your friends are busy with their own stuff. Their own careers and their own family-building. All of my friends are wonderful women (the lads are OK too), and many of them maintain an interesting job as well as looking after their children. I’m sure it’s not easy, and I guess I could be an object of envy, living a life of leisure, without the ‘hassles’. However, life isn’t all beer and skittles, at least not my version of life. In fact, if you had a chance to try it (living a life of leisure), you’d see as well. We all need a sense of purpose. For some, building a loving family can be enough, and I pass no judgement on that, really. For me, I want something else, and then I’d love to have children so that I can help them find their something else too.
The funny thing is, that this job has come along at a time when I’d brushed aside my doubts and insecurities and was starting to feel quite purposeful in the many little activities I have going on. I’ve learnt to stop saying “oh, nothing” when someone asks me what I’ve been up to lately. Even if I’ve just been pottering in the garden since they’ve seen me last; it’s learning, and smile-inducing, and definitely ‘growing something’! And hubby and I have been talking more and more about our dream of having a small business, so we’ll keep growing that too. And I no longer have days where all I have done (apart from housework, which is definitely too boring to mention), is mope about my various failures or shortcomings. Maybe who I am and what I choose to do is a little more difficult to explain to people, but that’s ok too.
It took some time but I learnt to love my lifestyle of continual learning, and efficient resourcing, and music and good friends and new things every day. Now I get the chance to contribute to science once more with this new job (hurrah!) and the best thing is that it’s part-time, so I can keep the other dreams and me-affirming activities going too 🙂