I reached into the far corner of my wardrobe and felt the once familiar fabric of my tailored pants. I had a day to prepare for the interview, and my day-to-day ‘mum uniform’ of jeans and a t-shirt would just not cut it.
Since leaving a management position to become a stay at home mum four years ago, the tailored pants have only made it out of the wardrobe for funerals. Appropriate really, as getting dressed every morning for work had felt like attending my own funeral. Facing row after row of brake lights on the freeway, I would wonder ‘Is this all life has to offer me? 12 hour days, a long commute and unpaid overtime?’ My healthy salary didn’t come close to compensating me for the life I was no longer living, but simply enduring.
The choice to leave my job to have a baby was a no brainer for me. I would happily lose sleep to my crying newborn: to pushy committee members or dodgy education agents, not so much. But I concede my resignation was hardly a plan, I simply had faith that the world would open up for me when the time was right to come back.
Recently that faith has been wavering. Four years away from paid work – away from computers, spreadsheets, budgets, not to mention changes in government at a state and federal level – and I’ve found myself consumed by thoughts of that messy re-entry into the world of work, made even more complicated by my family responsibilities.
I’ve never regretted my decision to stop and have a family, but it does come at a cost, and the past 12 months I’ve been wondering if I’ve paid with my future. When should I go back to work? Will those tailored pants still fit? Do I even want to wear them? Or do I try to find a career that will fit me and my family?
Motherhood has pulled me out of my comfort zone, and in doing so I’ve found that I’m far more capable than I ever imagined. I can stretch and reach for something seemingly beyond me, and not break. The fear of being a fool no longer holds me back from trying new things, for I know the feeling of not having tried is far less forgiving.
And so yesterday I attended my first interview in over seven years. Still within a university – the setting of my career – only this time, the interview was for a place in a professional writing and editing course.
As I waited for my name to be called, I paced the corridor like an expectant father. I soothed myself by reading the numbers on the rooms around me. My mind raced at all the possibilities ahead of me: my chest ached with the sheer weight of anticipation. I looked out of the windows to the city skyline and a peek of plane tree foliage and I took in a huge, loud breath. The nerves, the ache in my chest: this is what it must feel like to be living. Living fits me well.
Have you ever made a big change in your life? What made you take the leap?