The Tab That’s Open On My Laptop

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 fuelย 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!!

100 thoughts on “The Tab That’s Open On My Laptop

  1. My goodness, what amazing things you’ve already achieved!! After all that I don’t think anyone would blame you for spending your ‘post-mummy’ year’s eating bonbons & watching reality TV! Big clearly you’re not that kind of person. As our children grow there definitely comes that moment when you realise they don’t need you in the same way. And such an incredible role model you are for following your dreams, especially such compassionate and challenging ones xxx

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  2. I totally understand this ( and sounds like you did a terribly important job there…not that mummying isn’t but hope you know what I mean!!) My teens are 14, 15,and 16 now and I’m just beginning to do a similar thing …looking at things for me ,researching those bigger dreams I once had , because one day soon I really will be able to do them! #postsfromtheheart

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  3. Wow, you used to do an incredible job, then you had children and did an incredible job with them, so much so you can go and try another incredible job. It does sound like a huge adventure and something that will inspire your teens too. Good luck with whatever you decide #postsfromtheheart

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  4. We’ve got friends working in Nepal and Peru as well as another who recently came back from Africa. They’re all doing / have done amazing things to help people and learnt so much on the way. Keep knocking at the door. If it’s meant to be, the right situation will find you. Good luck! #bigpinklink

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  5. It’s amazing how life seems to throw these different opportunities at us: the fantastic career, the chanced to stay at home with your children, that inkling to travel and do good. I hope you follow that dream… click on the tab, go on! #bigpinklink

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  6. Oh I could relate to it all! The nanny throwing themselves out the door! Lol
    I think I’m just getting back into my career but it took a knocking due to time out. However I would not change it for anything! I’ve learnt so,much from being a mum that translates to work life. I keep looking at building that school in some far flung place! Good luck! You will be wonderful in whatever you do. X

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  7. Wow, what an amazing adventure and wonderful thing for you to do if you decide to go for it! Your career sounds so interesting, I can imagine it was difficult for you to give that up but you have done an amazing job at bringing up your 3 children. I look forward to finding out what you decide xx #postsfromtheheart

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    1. Oh thank you, Wendy. Yes, it was really hard to give up that career but my children were always going to come first. As they become more independent though there is time for me to pick those dreams back up xx

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  8. I agree with oldhouseintheshires – you were clearly amazing before having children and having them. Just imagine what you can be next, with all that extra life experience. I met an inspirational man the other day who said that at 53 he decided on a massive career change, and it made all of us (younger than him) realise just how much time we have available to be fabulous at whatever we choose.

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    1. Oh I love this comment (I’m a long way off of 53 though!!) and you’re absolutely right – we have so much time and it really is up to us how we decide to spend that time – let’s spend it being fabulous! xx

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      1. Me too, I’m 43 and it made me realise, if he sees 53 as a good time to rethink his career because he has at least a decade more he could enjoy doing it, then I’ve got even longer! If I might work for another 20 years, is the job I’m doing the one I want for that whole time? Makes you think doesn’t it!

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  9. Wow, you are one amazing woman! That’s a pretty challenging and exciting career. I would say “Go for it” when you can. It’s never too late to go back and resume. It will be daunting and scary at first but knowing you, you would still be fabulous. So keep that tab open! Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

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  10. I get that so totally. It’s how I feel about teaching. One day, when the children are grown, I’d love to go and teach somewhere where I would be really needed. Dreams are good, being able to make them happen is even better! Thank you so much for reminding us all at #PostsFromTheHeart of the importance of following those dreams.

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  11. You’d be superbly suited and wonderfully qualified for this Helen. There is a reason why that tab is open. It may not be something that you act on straight away but you’ll come back to it for sure. If you are anything like me, I have to have a little dance around the garden first!! Sounds like you are ready for your next journey ……… exciting. Thanks for joining #TweensTeensBeyond.

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  12. Many years ago, before adulting starting happening, this was something that I was pretty seriously considering also. I have a good friend who’s son is now off at college and she spends several weeks a year now in Mexico building homes. Its something that down the road I plan to look into again. Just because we sometimes put our dreams on hold doesn’t mean we are abandoning them. Just saying #bigpinklink

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    1. Oh wow – so you totally understand what I’m saying then? That sounds amazing about your friend’s son – exactly what I’d love my children to do too. Hope you re-visit your dreams also! Thank you for your comment x

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  13. Oh wow! What a powerful post this is! Women are incredible don’t you think? The way we balance everything. Your story is still unfolding. I really hope that when that tab closes, you will be on your way somewhere exotic that needs you. I think you’ll know when the time is right! Good luck and thanks for this wonderful read!
    #TweensTeensBeyond

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  14. Helen, you always have something interesting to say. I loved reading about your previous life and completely understand where you are at in life now. I’m at the same stage, where my youngest is 13 (next week!) and I’m thinking about life when they’ve gone. Not in a maudlin way, but with positive thoughts of possibilities. Good luck with your thoughts. Alison x #tweensteensbeyond

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  15. What an amazing ambition, and an amazing career to have too. I’m always in awe of anyone who has the patience and compassion to go into that profession – I really hope you get to achieve this dream one day, even if it’s not just around the corner. #bloggerclubuk

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  16. child 3 of 5 was in isolation with swine flu at Malvern College in the UK, a few years ago, child 5 of 5 was struck down by it in South Africa, yet there was no external control of it over there. I spent my children early years working full time and developing my career, then became a full time SAHM for the past 6 years, I have dreams, but as my husband is nearing retirement i doubt i’ll return now to a career, which i miss, #tweenteensbeyond

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  17. Exactly as you say, at some point they will need you less if you have done your job as a mum right. And when that time comes you’ll know it. To go an do those great things you want to do will be wonderful. So many of us do put our personal ambitions on hold willingly to raise the next generation of (hopefully) decent human beings.
    #coolmumclub

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  18. That sounds like such an amazing adventure! I’ve been overwhelmed by the need to do something to help others lately too – I’m just trying to work out how I can fit in volunteering with working and raising a toddler. As you said, your children are getting older now, and while they still need you, it’s getting to the stage when you can start thinking about taking a pretty big leap into something new and exciting. Good luck! #ablogginggoodtime

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    1. Oh I hope you find something too – lovely to hear that you feel the same. As much as they still need me at the moment I know that it won’t be long until they are living their own adventures. Thank you for your comment xx

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  19. This is am amazing idea Helen and given your public health background you would be just perfect for it! I absolutely understand your need to be needed – I feel exactly the same. The world needs people who have your skills – perhaps more than ever. Lots of luck with whatever you decide to do. Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond.

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  20. There are so many of us that have been diverted from our career journey for full time parenting and I think this teenage period is a real crossroads. It is a point in our lives when our children need us less and less and are preparing to go off and do their own thing and as such we can either carry on or take our lives along a different route. Good luck with your decision making Helen, the tab will still be there when you are ready to press click and I think you will know when that time is even if it isn’t right now. #TweensTeensBeyond

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    1. You’re right – a real crossroads for those with teens – all those unfinished dreams come back to sit as open tabs on the laptop. Timing is everything of course and I can’t leave quite yet xx

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  21. Wow this sounds amazing! I don’t think I’d ever be able to do anything like this, but you sound perfect for the job! The world NEEDS people like you. #coolmumclub

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  22. Helen, I think this is my favourite post of yours. I have wanted to undertake some humanitarian relief since I was in my teens. It is absolutely isn’t my time yet but I would love to think that one day it might be. It was lovely to know a bit more about it, you career sounds amazing and so rewarding, I can imagine it was hard to walk away from and you sounded so very dedicated. Good luck with your adventure whenever that may be, I look forward to hearing about it if and when the time comes. Thank you for sharing at #familyfun xx

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    1. Oh that’s so kind of you to say – thank you. It was an amazing career which made it so hard to walk away from but I’ve not regretted a moment raising my gorgeous three. Let’s hope I can write about my ventures one day xx

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  23. This post has blown me away on so many levels… two degrees? pediatric nurse? Wow Helen! I had you down as a city office chick…
    I too dreamt about overseas travel for charitable projects once upon a time – researching in the desert or in orangutan sanctuaries in Borneo…one day perhaps ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Wonderful dream – you could make it a reality (do you need someone to carry your bags?!)
    x
    Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub

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  24. Mrs Sandle (by the way I only just realised last week it’s not Sandie with an ‘i’ but with an ‘l’!!) you are FULL of surprises! Wow! What a career background. And you have a Masters…I can’t even finish the sentence. I admire anyone with a Masters. I shall be watching to see what Helen does next! #bigpinklink

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  25. I think its a brilliant next step to be able to or want to take. As a child I always dreamt of going to Africa and saving the animals… every animal, the world, saving it all was my childhood passion! I hope one day I can get the opportunity to go out there and make some small difference. Go with it and do what makes you happy xx #ablogginggoodtime

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  26. It’s fascinating to read about your amazing career, although it does make me feel like I wasted a lot of time – what was I doing for all those years pre-baby? You’re a totally inspiring person and a great role model for your kids. You should definitely click on that tab and follow your dreams! #PostsFromTheHeart

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