I had a bit of a shock last night. I found out our youngest daughter was to have a major test in French today. I’d been so wrapped up in fretting about the things that I’m worried about that I’d taken the eye of what is going on in my family’s lives.
I made penance by listening to the story she had written in French and needed to memorize. Sitting in the living room floor leaning against the radiator together. Realising that I had missed this dreaded impending event in my daughter’s life made me wonder what else might have slipped past me. So this evening I did a quick reality check.
I discovered that –
- the French test was pants;
- Mrs RPS still thinks there’s not enough communication in her workplace about what is going on;
- our older daughter remains loved up to the max and is revising for her exams; and,
- our son is loving his work placement but is short of cash.
I’m blessed with a wonderful family and great friends. So much so that I know I take too much for granted. What can seem permanent can, without warning, collapse. The last months have tested our family reliance and, of course, there are even greater tests to come.
A wonderful post last week by citizenR on their I was a public sector worker blog got me thinking about some of the behavioural responses I’ve seen to the mayhem all around. CitizenR makes the excellent point that, with the fulness of time, taking one thing with another and on balance getting fired may eventually turn out to be a good thing. But in the meantime they reserve the right to be fed up and angry. Quite right.
I’ve had so many emotional states it’s sometimes been hard to stop and work out what I’m feeling. What was hardest at first was the feeling of rejection. Silly, I know given many of our fates have been determined by remote authorities who know nothing of us except that it’s time for us to leave. But redundancy felt to me like a very personal judgement about me and my work.
I was angry too. A lot. Still am now and again. But being angry gave me brief relief while achieving absolutely nothing for the people I love. So I’m keeping my angry feelings shut up in the stable with plenty to eat and drink with an infrequent canter when I’m particularly exercised by some new piece of state or management sponsored idiocy.
Thinking now about what I have learned and experienced over the past months is pretty sobering. A lot of my early feelings came straight back to me this evening reading a story about Greater Manchester Police in The Guardian. The piece had comments, sometimes anonymous, from the staff affected. Some talked about that sense of rejection and loss particularly after long service.
Over the years I have often got the balance between career and family badly wrong. I thought that serving the career, the employer, served the family because it guaranteed the money we needed for the things we needed and wanted. It did. But I was wrong to personalise it.
I fell into the trap some make in the animal kingdom of anthropomorphizing creatures that will eat from your hand and then rip your head off. When you have been with an employer for sometime it’s easy to turn that organisation into a favourite uncle. Almost part of your family. My experience has certainly changed that for me and I doubt if I will ever feel quite as secure again.
There’s an old truth in diplomacy about nations not having friends only interests. I wonder if this is how to think about employment. A coalescence of interests rather than familial affection?
Perhaps that’s as it should be.