What happens after maternity leave, when you know you don’t want to return to your old job? Milla was in this situation, and explains in our Adventures in Parenting series, how she made up her mind, and what she intends to do next.
Find your passion and make that your job. All very well and good when you’re a teenager with no dependents and no responsibilities, but how about when you’re a mother of two trying to figure out what to do next. You’re done with the making babies phase of your life and now it’s time to get back to the career path. For many of us, however, this is easier said than done.
Perhaps, if you were in a job that you were passionate about, took some time out for the baby-growing part of your life, and were able to find a flexible, family-friendly option on the same path, perhaps then it’s easy.
I recently had my ‘last’ baby and suddenly had to think about what came next. I couldn’t put it off any longer, with the excuse that there was no point starting anything because there’d be another pregnancy, another maternity leave, another child dependent on me 24-7 for at least 18 months. Suddenly I felt a bit lost, and sad – what do we do when we’re not being mothers? To make it even harder whenever anyone gave me the advice to find my passion I struggled to know what that would be.
Much like a teenager I had the luxury to take some time to figure this out. As long as I was on maternity leave there was no pressure to bring in an income so now was my time and I sat down to think about it really hard. I’m a fairly decent photographer and used to think maybe I’d do it as a career, but decided not to because I didn’t want to ruin my hobby by forcing it to earn its keep. I have worked for several years in PR and press relations and again, whilst I enjoyed it and was reasonably competent, I wouldn’t call it a passion.
It was when I was asked what three things I was really good at – no false modesty, no excuses – that I realised what my passion was. Because, the thing is, passion isn’t something you merely enjoy. It’s not something you pick up and put down. It’s like a teenage infatuation – you can’t think about anything else. Even when you don’t realise you’re doing it, you’re thinking about it. That’s when I realised that writing was my passion, because even when I’m not scribbling things on a piece of paper, or frantically typing my thoughts to screen, I’m composing phrases in my head, describing my day as if it was being written down somewhere, trying to find the funny, the sweet or the extraordinary in the ordinary.
I toyed with the idea of going back to university and doing a Masters degree, but I realised that what I wanted out of the MA was the feedback – for somebody to read my writing and let me know what they thought. So I discarded the MA idea, for now at least, and dusted off my old blog. It won’t make me any money, not in the short term. Maybe I’ll have to take a workaday old job for that, but it’s brought the passion back and that makes a plain old job seem more manageable.
So maybe it’s OK not to make our passion our job, maybe it’s OK just to have a passion, to indulge it as best we can – and to have a job as well.