15 months is not a very long to spend in a job. In fact, on a CV, I could look like a job hopper. In my intense job, 15 months is a marathon, an ultra marathon.
I have recently engaged with an organization who does outpatient rehab and have put together a program for my tweens and teens age 10 to 16. When I told him I was leaving he said, “well your job has been like the comrades so now anything you do will feel like a marathon!”
So what made it so tough? And how did I personally make it even tougher for myself? I always go through these reflective moments when I have big changes in my life. At drinks the other night we were talking about what drives us? Why do I feel the need to work so hard? What am I trying to prove and to whom? I don’t think I crave the approval of others so it’s some issue I have proving something to myself? What precisely, who knows??
I need to figure this out before I start my next job and I have 2 weeks off to think about it. I have decided to do one of those psychometric tests to get some insight so I can be more balanced and have better boundaries.
Today was my last day. I am done. My section of the relay has been run and I am handing over. It feels rather anti-climatic. When I look back at my work I have so many emotions. So many gifts and lessons and pearls of wisdom I am taking away and tucking into my toolbox.
When my 3rd child was born I fell head over heels in love. Although I was totally convinced the baby was a boy and had bonded with a little son, this surprise little daughter just left me breathless. I absolutely adored her. I was 33 and married (I thought I would try the baby in wedlock thing for a change) and secure in my home and I just stopped running and immersed myself in this Mama space with every part of my being. I never put her down. We co-slept and I fed on demand and when the other 2 kids got too loud and Sofia got colicky, we sat in my dark room in my chair and I just breathed her in. I LOVED her. I remember telling my mom this breathless love and delight I had for my daughter, this was how God loved me. How did I know she asked? I just did.
Fast forward 16 years to working at the shelter and I am the sole social worker for the only family shelter in the Western Cape. Most of the clients are addicted to tik and mandrax. Their kids live with them in all their dysfunction and our child protection services are like all government services: inefficient, under staffed, lacking resources and just broken. Trying to get kids removed is a long and frustrating process and breaks our hearts into a thousand pieces. And where do they go? Babies go to babies’ homes and foster moms and get adopted. While it’s super sad we ultimately know the child gets a brand new start and escapes a life on the street. Older kids? Who wants a 7 year old child whose formative years were full of trauma starting right off the bat with conception? A ten year old who smokes dagga and has seen and heard what we can’t begin to imagine? No one, that’s who.
And children’s homes? No where near enough homes and many of them are not what they should be. We need so many more, we need aftercare in poorer neighborhoods. We need to get kids off the street. We need 12 year olds to play and not be responsible for a bunch of siblings while their mother works 12 hour shifts and earns R4500 at a security company.
But I am going off topic. I survived last year and it was largely because Jo and I worked so closely together. At that point I did not have an office so we essentially worked side by side overlapping into each other’s roles but somehow organically running our weekly marathon together till we would get to every Friday and shrug our shoulders with our mantra: “You can’t make this shit up!”
The one thing I did get to experience was supernatural Godly love. Once again like when Sofia was born I had the revelation of how much God loves us. I loved them right where they were at. Most of them smelly, many addicts, many of them surly and ungrateful and entitled, I just loved them. They stole and lied and manipulated and we simply loved them. Not because we are these angelic people, just because we had the gift of supernatural love where judgment is suspended and nothing is expected in return.
Fortunately we have a very different type of client than when I first started. I definitely feel like that kid at school that raises funds for the school pool and then leaves as it’s been built. We have better systems and private offices and a long awaited landline and a great network in place. But it’s all good and I am glad I was able to help lay some good foundations and build up our network. I suck at boundaries but I am really good at building relationships.
My race is done. I am not sure how I feel. It was an anti climatic day and I did the last slow ride around the block with a kid on each side of my car. They gave me a squeeze and a kiss and off I went. Goodbye Family Shelter, Auntie Mel is now on a 2 week very needed vaycay!