This last week has made me realise something—work does NOT equal life.
We talk often of a "work-life" balance. And then most of us completely fuck this off in one direction or other and the scales are tipped out of kilter.
Many of us believe that we HAVE to work—for financial reasons, mainly. Of course, if we have no income, how can we live in today's world? It seems that nothing in the world is free (save hate and love, but that's a topic for another day), so we go to work and tell ourselves that we MUST do this job in order to survive and be an 'effective' and "normal" member of society.
I'm one of those working mothers who has perpetual mum-guilt over the fact I work hard, I work long hours sometimes and I don't get to see my kids as much as I know I should—and not nearly as much as I want to. Some parents can accept this state of affairs, but I can't. I want to watch my children grow, I want to advise them and help with homework, listen to them read, curl up and watch trashy films with them. Eat too many sweets.
I am also an individual who takes a huge amount of pride in my work. I am very good at what I do and I don't make mistakes. My work-life "balance" is skewed towards work. This is bad.
Wait for it:
The past couple of weeks we've been unbelievably short staffed. My boss and I discussed my need for time off, that I was getting to the end of my proverbial tether with the amount of extra things I was having to do. I was told that, as soon as we hire someone new, I can take as much leave as I want. It was a platitude, a dangling carrot in the face of my continuing exhaustion. But, because people rely on me being present in the workplace (at least in body, perhaps not spirit), I let this go.
Then I started to make mistakes.
I NEVER make mistakes.
Then I got so tired I went home and cried.
And I nearly crashed my car one night because I wasn't properly concentrating.
I cried some more.
Then I decided enough was enough and I signed myself off work.
Afterwards I discovered that I had not only completely forgotten to tell my colleagues about a certain client, I didn't even RECALL who this client was and what it is I was meant to be doing for them.
Brain = Fried.
I realised I haven't had more than three consecutive days off since April—it is now November.
I realised that, although I give a lot to my work, I don't get very much in return. And the things I sacrifice—time with my kids, my fiance, time for self care—are worth more than what the job gives me. These things are worth more than ANY job could give me (or you, dear reader).
Yes, it means I've let the team down at a critical time, with low staffing levels. It means other people will have to pick up the slack. Well, you know what? Tough shit. I've been running on empty for the past I-don't-know-how-long and I NEED time for myself.
I've often been rubbish at self-care. I am very hard on myself, push myself to do the very best I can.
I can't give my best if I have an empty cup.
So, apologies to my co-workers, but this girl needs to put the kettle on for a serious re-fill.