Stepping backward to move forward

Stepping backward to move forward - Ever-changing Life of a Mum

Ever feel like you’re doing things backwards? I certainly do. Especially when it came to my decision to leave work to spend more time with my young family.

To most others, almost having both of your children in school would signal the right time to start ramping up your career again.

I’d been sitting on the sidelines for close to 10 years working a part time job since having my first baby. A job that offered me the flexibility to be with my children but still keep one foot in the employment door of opportunity.

Then along came the chance of taking up a full time role and promotion I had been dreaming off. With one child in school and another set to start the following year it all seemed to be falling into place.

Except it didn’t.

After six months of rushing, stressing and trying to cram everything in, to keep everything going, it all came crashing down.

The first sign of wear started to show and painfully it wasn’t me that broke first, it was my eldest daughter. Severe anxiety and panic attacks began to take hold of my usually confident girl and it was a horrible experience to watch. I can’t imagine what it was like for her! I did my best to support and help her along the way, but it was a mum’s worst nightmare.

We persevered for another six months. Then I also started to outwardly show signs of my own stress and fatigue as my body announced ‘no way, no more’.

Illnesses that I couldn’t shake, severe rosacea on my face, my own anxiety developing to point I felt like throwing up.

It was time to wave the white flag. It was time to refocus and put first what really mattered the most.

Me. My husband. My girls.

Yes, it was time to move off the sidelines just not in the direction many others expected. But it didn’t matter what others thought because it felt right for me and it felt right for my family.

That was two years ago now and so much has changed in that time.

My girls are growing so fast and I have learned that each stage in their development brings its own joys and challenges … plenty of challenges!

We have also added another beautiful daughter to our family – an unexpected but delightful blessing that was so obviously meant to be.

It hasn’t all been easy, there have been some rather difficult times and some major adjustments to be made, many of which we are still working our way through right now, but I feel more tolerant, more focused and am able to take these in my stride most days.

Weathering the bad storms no matter how long they last usually means there are better conditions ahead. So in the meantime, I just keep putting up my umbrella and raincoat to ride it out as best I can until the calmer times arrive.

I’m glad I pushed aside other people’s expectations to follow my own path because sometimes you have to step backward to move forward. I know that was certainly the case for me.

33 thoughts on “Stepping backward to move forward

  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing so honestly about the stresses and ‘less-than-perfectionisms’ you experienced. I’ve just been presented with an amazing back-to-work opportunity and am really struggling with the decision. It’s the kind of role that rarely comes up, so it feels very now or never. But my little man is still 2.5 years from starting school. Gah. Anyway, thanks for sharing. Adding food to my already churning thoughts. #teamIBOT

  2. I love this. You have to do what’s best for you and your family, first and foremost! I bet that while the solution seemed obvious in some ways, it would have taken courage to make your decision!

  3. It can be so hard to make that decision to stop work and put your life dreams on hold. I admire you for putting your family first. It can be such a struggle financially on one income. But what a wonderful gift you have given your children to help them through the difficult seasons and seeing their struggles.

  4. Hi Erika
    My life came crashing around my ears about 18mths ago. My children a a little bit older than your girls but still it has had a lasting impact on our family mostly for the better I am sure. I am still recovering and trying to regain and find me again in all of this but I will get there in time. Sometimes it is important to pare life back to discover what is most important to us. We (my hubby & I) have discovered that the most important things to us are each other, our relationship and our children. Everything else is nice trappings to have, but as long as we have each other we can live without everything else.

  5. After quitting my two ‘work from home’ jobs last week I so needed to read this post today! Thanks for sharing your experience Erika, I don’t think as a Mum we will ever regret putting our family first.

  6. I agree 100% with doing what is right for your family. No one else walks in your shoes. Glad you listened to your body (and your daughter’s) before it caused bigger health problems. I actually know some who worked more when they were younger knowing they wanted to be around during the high school years.

  7. It’s not backwards if it’s what you want to do (I understand directed by your child’s needs, but aren’t you lucky you can do what you need to do for her?). I think it’s moving forward but picking a different path. Is one path better than the other? Depends on what you decide is important….

  8. I can totally relate to the anxiety/stress. It is crucial to look after ourselves but we tend to forget that very important element a lot of the time!

  9. Can totally relate to this Erika as I have a similar story. Your post brought tears to my eyes though when you mentioned the toll on your daughter’s mental health. I’m feeling that my life is a bit out of kilter again and I need to reassess my priorities – to take stock so to speak. A proper ‘take stock’. Not a ‘what am I knitting now’ take stock. A real one. Thank you Erika. I’m glad I read this today x

  10. Erika, it was like reading my own story here! Two years ago later this month, I also left the workforce due to stress and anxiety. We went backwards in a financial sense but we’ve gained so much more in family balance and happiness. I would never change my decision – I’m grateful for the opportunity to have spent more time with my family and to have been able to better look after myself.

  11. Love this post and completely understand. I don’t have a partner or kids, but that need to take a step back and remember what’s important (us, our health, families) I can very much relate to.

    I should be more grateful for my life at the moment as I work part-time, which allows me to pay my bills and I now have a little mortgage again, but I still have several days a week for me and what I want and need to do.

  12. This post has resonated with all those who have commented and that says so much for the struggle all of us have in keeping the balance. Some days it is Ok, and others it is not. I was always glad to be a full-time teacher when our kids were growing up as each of them was in excellent care settings and I was a happier mum for being at work. However, the pressure of full-time work can pull you in so many directions and keeping options open is highly recommended. You are doing great, you know that? Yes you are. Denyse xx

  13. I can really relate to this post, Erika. And particularly your last line – “sometimes you have to step back to move forward” Almost 7 years since having my boys, I now feel like I can concentrate a little more on my career. But I certainly don’t regret making the decision to stay at home to be with them. I have been truly blessed.

  14. What a refreshingly honest post. Thank you for sharing your experience, you are definitely not alone in the struggle. It took guts to make the decision and you have. You are a strong woman.

    Thanks for linking up to #MummyMondays.

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