I was one of those working moms. The ones that companies love to hate. Skulking around corridors in fear of bumping into the boss as I’d just been called away for the third time in a week to fetch my child from school as he was sick. This was a regular, weekly occurrence. I used to stalk my phone if it rang, in dread of seeing private number as then I knew – things weren’t going to be good. What was I going to tell the boss this time?
I could sense the tension in the office, as I was not only letting down the boss, but I was letting down my colleagues too, but what was I to do? I couldn’t leave my child at school with a migraine throwing up all over the place. The guilt would sit hard on my chest like something was suffocating me. But I had no choice. What are you meant to do when you don’t have a support system, no family to help out, no friends to help out – it’s just you and you alone? I had my husband but he worked long, odd hours far from where we lived and where the school was, so the burden was placed heavily on my shoulders.
You see I have a child who is on the Autism spectrum, and he has Aspergers. One of the unfortunate things about Aspergers is that they can also suffer from generalised anxiety disorder. Any little change in routine, a teacher shouting, too much noise, or even an upset on the playground would manifest itself in a migraine which quickly led to vomiting. It was a nightmare to manage to say the least and any tiny thing could spark off the chain of events.
If I was called out to fetch my child, in embarrassment I would email the boss, as I was too scared to face him, to tell him that I would once again be leaving. I would ask if I could work at home, as I was fully set-up, but it was against company policy to do so. So, I just had to take unpaid leave over and over again, turning my decent salary into a misery at the end of the month.
I had to face the facts that it wasn’t working for me, it wasn’t working for the company I worked for and it certainly wasn’t working for my son, so I had to formulate a plan, but I had no idea what. I started moonlighting as a freelance marketer, doing two jobs at the same time, working myself into the ground, while still trying to remain sane at the same time. Unfortunately this led to my health suffering and I was admitted into hospital twice with pneumonia. Just another reason for the company to really feel I was an asset…I don’t think so!
I realised that it had to stop, but it wasn’t just about me or my job, it was about my child too. If he was suffering so much at school, then clearly it wasn’t working for him there either. That was a bitter pill to swallow as it was a great school and he had lots of friends there, but it was time to face the facts.
So changes started to happen…I started doing really well at my moonlighting job of marketing, no matter how exhausted I was and a realisation hit me like a bolt of lightning – we needed to change my child’s school too. He had become so bad that he even refused to work at school. Nothing they did would change it. He was in a bad place, I was in a bad place, which meant our family was in a bad place and things had to change for all of our sanity to stay intact.
So, I had to make those changes no matter how daunting and scary it was. I couldn’t live with the guilt of letting my company down anymore, and I couldn’t live with a child that was so anxious he could barely function.
The first thing I did was resigned. I’m sure they were delighted! Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that you should get up and resign and have nothing to go to, but I was in the fortunate position that I had built up quite a successful little side business that could only keep on growing, so I had the means of providing an income for my family and I didn’t have to feel like a failure every single day at work, or when not at work more accurately.
The next step I had to take was to change my child’s school. This was the most difficult decision, but I couldn’t let him continue as he was as it was damaging him. He was an emotional mess. After three failed attempts, we eventually, after 6 long months and lots of tears, found the perfect school for him. I’m happy to report that I hardly ever get those phone calls anymore as he’s in a much smaller school, much smaller class and is genuinely happy. I’m not saying that they don’t come, but at least it’s less often and now when I get called off I don’t have to skulk around those hallways anymore avoiding the boss.
The moral of the story…sometimes in life we have to make difficult, but calculated risks to do the best for not only ourselves as mothers, but for our children and for our partners too.
Have you ever experienced a similar situation? Please share your experiences with us.