So a few weeks ago I was struggling with juggling nursing and being a mum. Life was tough and I could see no way of making it better. Then followed an even heartier kick in the teeth when I failed to gain the substantive post for the job I have been doing for 2 years. Yep I have to say I was pretty damn low. In fact so low I was seriously contemplating leaving nursing forever and becoming a postman. (I love post, I just think it’s so exciting get stuff through the door…)
Then came a moment in my life where someone actually stood up and basically said don’t be a dickhead. She was right, I either threw my toys out the pram or I picked myself up and dusted myself off. Stopped bemoaning the unfairness of the situation and actually proved I was more than what I was threatening to become.
It was hard. Almost crippled by self-doubt and the fear of failing a second time. But then I thought about what I have already overcome. The challenges I have faced head on – not least this last year with PND after Pudding. The time had come to stand up, to fight for what I believed and to put myself out there.
So I did. In went the application for a job I never would have applied for a year ago. Every time it crossed my mind over Christmas my stomach did that awful flip-flop. I let myself have moments of day dreaming that I had the job. Every time I did my confidence grew just a bit more. But not just that so did my passion for my nursing career. I felt re-energised for the first time since the children. I felt like me. Not just Mummy but a woman who could achieve her dreams of a career and family.
I planned how I could work and have the kids cared for. I read, anything and everything that might be useful. The interview was confirmed and I redoubled my efforts. Now I wanted this, really wanted it. No longer a pipe dream, I believed I could make this happen.
The interview date came. Sat waiting to be called my hand shook a little, my stomach seemed to twist and dance entirely to its own tune. If I thought the pre-interview wait was bad the post interview wait was a whole new form of torture. My mind analysed it over and over and over until I could barely remember what had even happened! Then finally the moment was there – as the words came out of my managers mouth I couldn’t really understand what she was saying. Let alone believe it! I had done it, the job was mine. Holy Shit!!!!!
So in the next few weeks I will start my new post. Full of enthusiasm and the passion to make positive changes. Will it all be plain sailing? Ha unlikely! I am on the steepest learning curve of my career. It’s going to be tough, a whole new challenge. Not just for me but for all of us as we try to juggle a new working pattern. Will it be worth it? I believe it will, but watch this space…
I find myself in serious contemplation of my career. A career I have worked hard for, but that now appears inflexible and a destructive influence on my family. How many times can I leave my four-year old in tears, carefully remove his arms from my waist and whisper ‘Sorry darling, Mummy has to go to work’. To shut the door and still hear his sobs of ‘don’t go again Mum…’
The problem is that no matter what people say nursing does not lend itself to a family friendly life. The shifts are long and unpredictable. The work itself is both mentally and physically draining. I personally can’t walk out of the hospital door without thinking about my patients and their families. Being a nurse for many is a vocation. It’s not just a job, or a profession. The training is hard, the job is harder. You have to love what you do, or you just wouldn’t keep doing it. Always chronically understaffed and overworked, the patients come first. Other people’s families constantly put above your own.
The level of responsibility I and my fellow nurses have is huge. No longer are we the profession so often portrayed in old films. You know the ones where we meekly follow the Doctors round and do their bidding. That went out the window with our hats and aprons many years ago. Nurses are now more autonomous, more skilled and more educated than they ever have been. In my opinion this is fantastic but it comes at a price. That price is stress. A stress that grows almost unseen, but bubbles over into family life.
Here we have a profession that is predominantly made up of women, that doesn’t lend itself in any way to family life. Lets face it flexible working isn’t an option. I can just imagine my managers face if I said I wanted to come in at 10am some days or finish at 5pm. I would have to pick her up off the floor she would be laughing so hard! Patients need 24 hour care, nurses have to provide this.
Obviously I can’t work from home that is a ridiculous notion. Where would I put all the equipment? Besides I can’t see the ward round stopping by my house to make a plan of care or the x-ray team trundling up my drive… So flexi-homeworking not an option. Of course we are a minority in that our family has two nurses that work inflexible long shifts, which only compounds the problems. Some one is always tired, someone is always at work and both of us are inevitably stressed!
Is this my choice? Well kind of but not really. I often think that if I really had a choice I wouldn’t go to work. But then I remember that I like having my own money and I like having something that is mine and not the children’s. It’s not a selfish thing to want to have some time where I am a nurse and not ‘Mum’. I think in many ways it makes me a better Mum when I return to the children. Or it would if I wasn’t so shattered after work! But the children hate it. I hand my children over to my husband like I handover my patients to my colleagues at the end of my shift.
No one I speak to has the answer. It feels as though the day is coming when I will need to make a decision. I either am a nurse or I am a mother. I raise my children, but lose everything I have worked to achieve. There doesn’t appear to be a happy medium for me. Its my career or my kids. There is no competition in my eyes. If somethings got to give I know what it will be. That doesn’t make it ok and it doesn’t make it any easier.