I quit my job in travel retail back in February. There’s never really one reason for quitting a job, is there? Like you could have a problem with your boss but wouldn’t just quit over it: you would first try to resolve the problem. If the problem cannot be resolved, well that could be a representation of the management systems in place, so that combined with the miserable boss – maybe you’d quit. It’s never just one thing: most of the time, anyway.
I had several reasons for quitting and not actively seeking work afterwards. We couldn’t afford to put N in any type of childcare (I did not intend on full-time work until he got to full-time education, PLUS his dad works full-time, meaning we didn’t qualify for any help at the time… jobless families do, but hey, that’s a different conversation…) so my own mother took the brunt of it all, basically. Yes, my dad also helped, but being completely blind – literally, people – he couldn’t just give my mum a day off. He can’t see N. Literally.
Long story short, my latter 12 months of work, pretty much, involved a lot of hospital and doctor appointments for both my parents, as well as my grandparents, whom my mother would also help. There was one occasion where paramedics came to my house to check my mum over and take her to hospital.
Then, in November of 2017, N had his 2 year check-up with the health visitor team. I attended this alone, without N’s dad. So I had to sit, helpless, with N running around ignoring the nice health visitor lady, whilst said lady forced opinions down my throat (may as well have) about how he was falling behind with his speech and communication. He’s not forming sentences. He doesn’t know his name. Do you read to him? Are you communicating well at home? Do you understand what he needs, when he needs it? Tell you what, I’ll send a team around to your home to monitor him. We’ll sit and do some activities with him, see if we can’t get him talking like he should be at this stage.
It was there and then that I was planning my notice letter to my employer.
Not because of the company, not because of the people that worked there, not because I hated my job – I bloody loved the travel industry and had dreamt of this job for almost a decade. But because I felt selfish. Selfish for wanting to put my career first, whether than meant begging N’s other nan to come and watch him, or juggling shifts around with colleagues because my mum was still in hospital, or begging N’s dad to swap some shifts because I’d been doing it all month and we were understaffed as it was… I felt selfish for wanting, not to earn an income of my own, but to have something for myself. Something I could be successful at, somewhere I could get a bus to four or five mornings a week, my own customers I could have a natter with. Selfish for not spending more time on N’s development. (But a word of advice if you’re not already aware: health visitors make you feel like crap. His speech is fine.)
In that moment, I felt like the shittest mum in the world. I didn’t even work full-time.
I handed my notice in at the end of January 2018. I wanted to get through January and February with my colleagues first, because it was the busiest time of the year for sales, and because I felt guilty for leaving them in the shit. Guilt guilt guilt. Guilty if you work, guilty if you don’t.
I said to N’s dad, my mum, even friends I had that have now disappeared since becoming ‘SAHM’, “at least this will give me more time to write”, which is also what I’ve aspired to do. Not for a decade, but since I could remember. I was born with a pen in my hand, apparently.
This year, I’m completing my final module towards a degree with honours in English Language and Literature. I’ve wanted this degree since I was 17 years old. Instead of going to university back then, I decided to see what travel and tourism was all about. But that’s a different story for another time.
For the last three weeks or so, I’ve delved into the world of Advanced Creative Writing. A lot of it I knew already, however the vast majority of it has been an eye opener. I’ve got an idea for my first assignment which is a miracle in itself – I might post it here once I’ve handed it in. I bought three little notebooks from Wilko, which I’ve actually been utilising. I feel like it’s been a slower journey than anticipated (I wrote around 1000 words towards a ‘novel’ in the time I haven’t been working, that’s all. Oops.), but I can actually say I’ve left the mark. It’s showtime.
What are you writing?
Well mum, it may only be for university, but finally, I’m writing. I don’t ever want to stop.