In 25 years, I’ll be 60 and if I stay where I’m at, or even just somewhere else within government, I’ll have a full pension, my children will be grown, the house paid for. I will not have worried about prescription bills, or dental bills – as much of those would be covered under the extended medical plan.
And maybe, if I was still the person I was 6 years ago, I’d be content. Or perhaps, I wouldn’t be so passionate about healthcare or maybe I’d be passionate about something else (like education) and I could move away from health into some other area and happily work there.
But, I am not that woman. I’ve mourned her. I’ve lamented her absence. And in the years since – since I was pregnant with my daughter, since I became a mother – I’ve had to work hard to come to terms with who I am, now. To pick up the pieces of a shattered being and cobble together a mother, a woman, that I and my family can live with. Knowing that there is no way to change the past, there isn’t really any way to even get any accountability for it. There is only now, who I am now and all the days, months, and years ahead.
My work-outside-of-work has been a refuge, a life raft in an otherwise turbulent sea. This blog, a sanctuary. Twitter – an engaging space. Building the Cesarean by Choice Awareness Network – has given life to a community, of which I am privileged to be a member. The patient advocacy and provider engagement work I have done has been some of the most fulfilling in my career. Indeed, my work-outside-of-work has sustained me during some of my most difficult times and has challenged me to think in new ways about healthcare and the health system. It is meaningful and can and has affected change.
It is rather ironic then, that the work that has reminded me of how much I care about healthcare – about the system – is the same work that makes my work-at-work an exercise in tedium and toil. It is my salvation, my destruction and my reconstruction all at the same time.
For now, it is like I have learned many important and valuable things from my work-at-work – indeed at one time, my work-at-work brought me a lot of satisfaction and without that experience, I would be less effective at my work-outside-of-work. But because I changed, and in some measure it did too – there’s an uncomfortable conflict between myself and work-at-work and work-outside-of-work, and every day, a little louder, after I drop the kids at daycare, there’s a voice from within that says, “I don’t want to go to work.” Because going to work means spending another day trying to focus on things that I have a hard time focussing on, means spending another day supporting and defending a status quo, means lamenting all the other things I could have done that I would have found more fulfilling. It means spending another day being drained and in conflict with who I am.
I would love nothing more than if my work-outside-of-work aligned with what I’m paid to do – when there would be an effortless match between what I want to do and what I do. I’d love nothing more to be in a position where there was little gap between what I did, and what I could do. Where, the work was meaningful – and a source of satisfaction. Indeed, it is a shame that the work-outside-of-work does not come with a paycheque…because in 25 years, although I would not have a pension, I could have done some great things, things that matter and things that have meaning. Perhaps, after 25 years, I would have lived a life worth living.
P.S. I'm open to suggestions on how to make the work-outside-of-work come with a paycheque, provided they don't involve moving out of Victoria and are compatable with the demands of children.