I have had a unique outside view on this, I left full time work when I had my first child and have never gone back to full time again. The choice wasn't entirely my own. I had just started on the path of returning to work when my doctor suggested long term disability. It was an unexpected and abrupt end to a career of any sort for me. I've worked various casual and part time positions as my health would allow, but never had to balance a work home life they way most of my friends did. While there were many things I missed, I did not miss the pull in each direction for more attention.
I could choose freely where and when I worked and I was able to keep our children happy while doing so. That, however came at a great cost to me. Granted our children benefitted greatly from the care they received with the consistency of having parent being at home, but at times it was a lonely existence for me. When both girls had a full day at school, I had a full day at home and although I had been with the children full time for seven years at that point, I missed our daily outings and learning experiences. Volunteer work became very satisfying for me. We could have used my income but we learned to live without it. Being a volunteer gave me a sense of contribution and I was always honest about my health and what I was able to contribute.
I did find some part time positions but with a spinal cord injury causing chronic pain, I didn't have a lot of choices. It was about this time that I was being investigated for serious medical conditions and finally a very major surgery with months of rehab to learn to walk again. So as you can see I had a purpose, in fact I had two. One was to hold our family near and try to be the best parent I could be in this very challenging position. Secondly, I was very consumed with learning to use my body to the best of it's ability. I have approximately fifty percent of the feeling gone in my left side and severe weakness on the right side. I had my work cut out for me.
It seems foolish now as I write this, but I know even during this time I had a sense of guilt for not having a career, or meaningful work.
In retrospect my meaningful work has been to: heal this body, preserve my mind, foster good mental health not only in myself but my family, and keep us all well fed in an inviting home. We have raised two beautiful, well adjusted daughters. At the age I am now, I can clearly see, that is all that matters at any given time.
Life comes with its challenges therefore I would have had different ones had I been healthy. Our work here on earth is not meant to be a paid one, it is to accept our challenges with grace and dignity and offer what you can to others. I'd like to think I have done that. Those of you with health challenges who feel a little lost, I would ask you to look for meaning and a sense of satisfaction in what you do and don't ever feel you have nothing to give.
For those who read this without health challenges I ask that you be grateful for the health you have and in the year ahead you slow down just a little. My friend has told me she has a goal of one day of the week without work of any kind, no to do list and no "shoulds." That's a great idea and for a woman who is driven by work a very excellent start.
As 2015 comes to a close I have to say I have had my challenges this year but I have had tremendous support and love too. As my Mother always says it's a ill wind that blows no good. My winds came with lots of good, and so will yours, dig deep to find it and slow down long enough to enjoy it. Happy New Year readers and friends, you are among the blessings I count in 2015.