There’s a tab open on my laptop. I don’t want to close it down. It’s there for me to keep popping back to. For me to keep mulling over. I can see it out of the corner of my eye each time I log in. Not Chloe or Mulberry or Selfridges. Not even Chanel or Gucci. Though I am totally lusting after the entire Gucci SS17 collection. Not fussy. Any item yes please and thank you. How to become a UN Relief Worker. That’s the tab.
Ever since I can remember I have wanted to embark on a humanitarian programme. Anti-malaria prevention programme in Africa. Orphanage volunteer in the war-torn Far East. My first degree was paediatric nursing. My second, a Masters in control of communicable diseases. The need to help others firmly rooted in my education. My career working for the Health Protection Agency saw me specialising in Meningitis as well as outbreak management. Remember the swine flu outbreak? Well, the control and management of that were part of my role. Awake all hours, consoling the worried, setting up the control centre in London, sending swabs out in the middle of the night, couriering anti-virals to those who needed. The buzz that a large-scale outbreak causes, the pulling together of a great team to work to resolve the problem fuel the biggest adrenaline rush. Well, that and all the caffeine consumed to help with the lack of sleep! But overall there was an overriding factor of doing good. Of being needed.
My career was one I loved. I jumped out of bed at 5:45 every morning. Full-time nanny, heels on, beautiful clothes, stunning bags, good accessories and hot coffee to name but a few of the advantages. Damn it wasn’t even just about that. If the pager went off at 2 in the morning I’d leap out of bed, grab my dressing gown, tiptoe out of the bedroom and down the stairs to pop the kettle on and deal with whatever was thrown at me. I was needed.
Oh, it wasn’t all glossy. My husband and I would argue about who would be home first to relieve the nanny. Not because we didn’t want to get back to the children but because both had demanding careers that made leaving at 5 so stressful. Then arrival home would see children throwing themselves at me in tears, competing for my attention before I’d even taken my coat off. The nanny running at full speed out of the very door I’d just walked through. Oh, the guilt. It was there staring me straight in the face. Its strength finally winning.
There were no regrets. Of course, I missed my career. I missed it passionately. I was interested in it. I missed the people. The intellect. The challenge. The hot coffee! But I adored being a mummy and that ultimately was where I was needed most.
But that need is dwindling. I can feel it. But that’s OK. That’s the way it should be. Of course, they still feel they need me. I get that. But it’s different. They are teenagers. They are so very nearly ready to go and face the world. To go and make it whatever that want it to be. Their demand and need of me, it’s not the same. And so it shouldn’t be if I’ve done my job correctly. There’s still a few years, yet. But the feeling of my need to go and do such a project is pulling that little bit harder. So much more than when they were toddlers. It’s clear now, though. That’s why that tab is open … just saying.
NB If my husband is reading this – with you darling, of course!!