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Is it normal to still feel pangs of 'grief' for lost career 7 years on?!

(89 Posts)
Bramshott Thu 22-Jul-10 10:29:12

Like many people, I had a busy, fulfilling career before I had children. Probably worked too many hours, too much travel etc, but I loved it.

After DD1 as born (she's now 7) I made half-hearted attempts to keep my job on in some form, but because I'd had a rough time with the birth etc, my heart wasn't in it (only 6 months ML then) and it didn't work out. Logically I know that this was probably for the best as it wasn't a very family-friendly career.

Since then I have been lucky enough to do various bits of freelance work in my field, which is sometimes interesting and quite full-on, but it's not a 'career' really. I mostly work from home, which I am finding increasingly isolating.

For various reasons I feel like a 'crisis point' is coming - partly because I am now at an age where if I'd stayed in my career I might be at quite a senior level, in a 'visible' job, and partly because DD2 will be at school next September (Sept 11) and I guess I had always thought that I would be back working in a 'proper job' at that point, whereas now I just can't see how that could happen.

Sigh. Apologies for the self-absorbed whining! Anyone else?!

Longtalljosie Thu 22-Jul-10 11:36:47

You do obviously want to go back. Could you? I mean, I see it would be difficult, but is there actually a solution?

Bramshott Fri 23-Jul-10 09:19:39

Thanks for replying Josie

I guess I am not willing to put my family through the sacrifices that would ensue if I decided to go to London every day (would take about an hour and a half) and work evenings / weekends / travel etc. There's also a great part of it which is grief for my old job in particular, and I don't think it would be healthy or even possible to go back to.

I guess I just have to take it on the chin and make a plan . . .

StealthPolarBear Fri 23-Jul-10 09:22:00

I know you say you're doing bits from home but is there anything that is some sort of compromise?

I'm now dying to know what it is you do

duplotogo Fri 23-Jul-10 13:24:55

Have you thought about setting up a business? I have seen various inspirational articles in different places about people selling things on ebay, there was a lady on the local news or something who turns over £50k pa selling baby shoes through a website.

mrsbaldwin Sat 24-Jul-10 19:34:04

Hi Bramshott

At the moment I am kind of the opposite of where you are in the sense that I didn't take much maternity leave and am back at work full time. But ....

... yes I'm sure it's possible to feel pangs of grief - I definitely do. I have a well-paid, important-sounding job (!) - but actually it's not the one I'd prefer to be doing (that one would involve travel and all the trimmings you describe).

What am I gonna do about it (as the pangs are annoying me)? Well, I think I'm going to try out various permutations of the travel-type jobs - short term contracts etc (where you work like crazy for 3-6 months and then stop) or some variation on remote working arrangements and see how it comes out.

Does the industry you work in hire people for short term positions? You could give it a go. You might make a contact who offers you a longer-term position that you can have some influence over the terms for.

A girl who lives in the next road to me, a management consultant, who has two small DCs, travels one week a month, stays away for the whole week, but can work from home 2 days a week the rest of the month.

Here is some inspirational reading for you - Alice Walpole, mother of 6 and currently our woman in Basra!


foureleven Sat 24-Jul-10 19:38:00

I think it is commendable to say you wouldnt put your family through sacrifices for you to go back to your career but what about all the sacrifies you have made??? You're happiness is as important as there's.

What does your partner say about this. Id there anyway he/she could flex their work so that you can concentrate on yours more?

a family is a unit where every member has to give and take..

Bramshott Sun 25-Jul-10 17:16:26

Thanks all. I'm mulling all of this over, but about to go away for a couple of days.

I'll come back with more disjointed thoughts!

lalaa Sun 25-Jul-10 17:23:43

I was in just your situation with a child a little older than yours. I also had breast cancer in 2005, so that got in the way of returning to 'proper' work too.
Dh and I decided at the end of last year that we were both miserable in our respective roles so we have swapped. We are (much) financially poorer, but we are soooooooo much happier in every other way. Is role swapping an option for you? Is it something you would like to do given the choice?

ABitTipsy Mon 26-Jul-10 18:41:03

MrsB, thanks for that link but her kids are either at uni or at boarding school and her mother is around to help out whilst she's working. What about those of us with nearly school age DC's and no help!

ABitTipsy Mon 26-Jul-10 18:44:44

Sorry, also meant to reply to OP, that yes I know what you mean. I ended up as an involuntary SAHM, (huge health problems and PND after DD meant I couldn't go back to work after mat leave) DD is now nearly 7 and DS starts part time school in September. I always thought I would have worked out what I want to do work wise by now, having now been at home for 7 years, but I still don't have a clue.

So, mine is not exactly the same problem as yours, but i do kind of know what you mean. But am sorry that I have no answers for you. sadsmile

MistyB Mon 26-Jul-10 20:13:50

Alice Walpole wouldn't be my inspirational woman!

"I do six weeks in Basra, then two weeks at home in Oxfordshire, which I don’t think works, quite. It’s nice for the children, but two weeks is a long stretch to be away from the mission."


OP - I haven't reached your point yet (my youngest is only 16 months so school is a way off) but I will one day and it scares me!!

mrsbaldwin Mon 26-Jul-10 22:37:25

Alice Walpole - oh you know ... It's just an example! Anyway, stuff the lot of ya grin ... I thought it was inspirational!

mrsbaldwin Mon 26-Jul-10 22:45:51

<MrsBaldwin about half a bottle of white wine down [grin}

Rockdoctor Wed 28-Jul-10 15:22:48

OP - I think I know exactly what you mean even though my eldest is only 2.5. I was made redundant 6 months after going back to work and at the time thought it was a good thing (big payout, opportunity to stay at home). Now I am trying to get motivated to look for freelance work but tbh finding it hard.

I guess the thing that bugs me is that where I live, being a SAHM is seen as a lifestyle choice and assumes a partner that can provide for you. I would find it hard to talk to any of the other mummies about how much I miss my career although I wonder how many of them secretly feel the same.

LostArt Wed 28-Jul-10 15:57:03

OP - I think you are like me in that you want to have your cake and eat it! I want a career, but don't want it to effect my children greatly.

I reluctantly gave up work after my first child as it involved travelling and being out of the home 7am till 7pm, and that was without working late. I intended to find a less demanding job, but, between having DC2 and nothing 'inspiring' turning up, it never happened.

DC2 will be starting school soon and I'm itching to return to work, but I've become (too) picky. I know I'll be waiting years for a job that fits into my lifestyle to materialise, if it ever does. I can't believe that I thought a career would suddenly become easier when the DC are at school - what was I thinking of!

I'm sorry that I can give you any advise, but at least you know that you aren't alone. smile

MistyB Wed 28-Jul-10 20:46:12

Rockdoctor, I think you will probably find that you are not alone. LostArt has put it well, I want to have my cake and eat it.

Challenging job that I'm qualified for and good at that would give me strategic influence in an interesting business, nice colleagues, well paid, close to home, from 9:30 to 2.30 three days a week (to allow for Martha Stewart activities and keeping house like Anthea Turner would).

Am I asking too much??

Sorry - a bit flipant....

ByTheSea Wed 28-Jul-10 20:55:12

It may not be normal, but I feel that way too. DH has been redundant for awhile now, and we need the money, so I'm going to be looking to get back in the game (after over six years). It's not even that I loved what I was doing that much, but it was nice to be quite senior in an adult life and I didn't realise how related to my self-esteem it was until recently.

KickButtowski Wed 28-Jul-10 21:26:03

I hated my job and was relieved to pack it in when I had twins 6 years ago. Suddenly now I have started to feel very wobbly, and my self-esteem has plummeted. My career is dead, never to be resurrected due to the nature of my work and I feel like, wow, that's it then, all that work for nothing. I feel like a fraud being a SAHM when the kids are at school, and I feel like I am just somebody's mum and somebody's wife.

Worst of all I have started telling anyone who will listen about what I used to do ( as though anyone gives a shit ) but it is like I can't accept that I am "just" a mum now.

Equally though the thought of starting afresh gives me the willies as I am so settled in this SAHM life and routine that the thought of introducing a job into that really unsettles me.

I never thought I would feel like this.

MistyB Wed 28-Jul-10 21:40:51

Kickbutt, that was close to touching a few nerves.

I've no idea what field you were in but your experience can't be worth nothing!! (or there is no hope for the rest of us....) and you cant be called Kickbutt for nothing!!

and FWIW, I once heard a Mum say "I used to have an important job" (it wasn't you was it?) and I thought - bringing up your children is pretty important too!!

amidaiwish Wed 28-Jul-10 22:04:12

LostArt and MistyB, you sum it up.

(except to be honest i would like 2 days a week, term time only grin)

the thing is, as much as i love the kids, being at home day and night, waiting for dh to come home, is well a bit dull. i also worry that my 2 DDs are just 18 months apart, so in a very short space of time they will both up and leave (14 years away, but still!) then what do i do? i'll have 15 years til dh retires.

clearly i have nothing better to worry about.

feels quite good to put it down in writing though!

amidaiwish Wed 28-Jul-10 22:07:51

but then again, i am in week 1 of the summer hols. the dds are knackered from school and i can see them gradually destress and relax.

they really wouldn't cope with going to a childminders/holiday club. well clearly they would cope, but it wouldn't be great for their wellbeing.

as a family unit it is best that i am not working, but for myself, i do not know. i'd love to be in one of those families where the dh and dw share work and childcare. but dh's work isnt' like that. he lands at stansted at midnight, won't be home til 2am. we would fall apart as a family unit if i wasn't here holding it all together. plus i never really loved work if i am honest, used to find it all quite stressful and v tiring (long hours/travel). should count my lucky stars really!

smallorange Thu 29-Jul-10 11:55:44

Op - I had exactly that, yesterday, when I googled some old work colleagues ( some of whom I'd trained) to find them in fantastic jobs with foreign travel, good pay, kudos.

Had to get a grip. My old life is gone. There is no way I could 'catch up' with them now.

But they've earned it and I'm sure they have made sacrifices to get where they are.

I'm looking at a new less glamorous but hopefully more fulfilling career( at least that is what gets me through the night...)

Bramshott Thu 29-Jul-10 12:03:46

Oh wow - so many replies! Reassuring to see that others are struggling with the same feelings.

In terms of my personal situation, DH is not really able to be much help unfortunately as he works long hours running a company. However, I do have a pretty good support network - fab childminder etc, so I could work a bit more I think.

I think my plan is to work out over the next year what it is I want - whether it's just a slightly different kind of freelance work, that gets me out of the house more, or whether I want to go back into "a job", albeit probably part time, and then try to look for openings and contacts in order to make that happen.

A large part of what I'm missing is having colleagues and getting out to events I think. I work in the arts, and while it's possible to organise performances etc from anywhere, actually going to them is a large part of what makes it worthwhile, and that's what I've been missing.

I did find Mrs B's link to the Alice Walpole story inspirational actually - I think it's important to remember that there's nothing actually physically stopping mothers from being high achievers in all sorts of fields - it's not impossible, it's just up to all of us to work out whether it will work for us / our families.

PrimroseCrabapple Thu 29-Jul-10 12:37:30

I chucked my high flying IT career in 7 years ago when my first born proved to be a nightmare. I did regret it and when the second went to nursery i went to college to brush up. Best thing I ever did. At the end of the course was offered two jobs (networking old colleauges).

picked the easier job to go back in gently and am so happy to be back.

Try doing something as a confidence booster and get networking you never know!

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