It's finally here: May Two-Four weekend, the first long weekend of the spring and the official kick-off to summer in Canada. The long weekend means it's time to open up family cottages, take covers off backyard pools, start planting the summer gardens, break out the bicycles and barbeques and, after a long season of hibernation, generally revel in the warmth and sunshine of the great outdoors.
The long weekend marks the start of the outdoor sports season, every local baseball diamond and soccer field filled with little athletes and lined with cheering families on folding chairs and picnic blankets every afternoon and evening for the next four months.
And for me, this year, the long weekend starts the countdown to the end of the school year and the beginning of the end of the toxic job I'm trapped in.
I've written before about how strongly I feel about being home with my kids as much as possible, particularly while they're young, and how I would do almost anything for work in order to make that happen. Nothing is more important to me than raising my kids myself - spending time with them, making memories, teaching them and learning from them and cherishing every moment I can with them while they're young.
Children are young for such a short time; nothing is more important to me that being there for them while they are - not wealth or career, personal ambition or goals. These are my priorities; not everyone may share them, and that's ok. We all live with our own set of values and priorities. Mine mean that I will do anything at all for work if it means being able to be home for my boys; even if I'm overqualified, even if I'm being underpaid, even if I don't particularly like it.
The work situation I'm in right now has been testing me to the absolute limit. The situation is positively toxic.
I'm running a home daycare for my former neighbours' kids. It's a situation that happened almost by accident, the end of my biggest contract coinciding with my neighbours needing part-time care for their kids, a matter of timing and circumstance I thought would be a great short-term temporary stop-gap solution for everyone - less expensive daycare for them and that last little bit of extra income I'd need to ensure I could remain at home with my kids until my youngest starts school this fall.
Seven months later, part-time has become full-time, short-term has become painfully protracted long-term and what started out as a mutually beneficial arrangement motivated largely by sympathy for the parents and a sense of fortuitous timing has turned into a tortuous ordeal that I feel trapped in out of overwhelming pity for these poor kids.
I absolutely hate this job. Hate it.
It's not the kids.
Without getting into unnecessary detail, this is the most toxic situation I've ever experienced. I'm angry and outraged by almost everything to do with this family, their lifestyle, and how they raise their kids. Which doesn't need to be any of my business - except I'm the only human being who actually consistently spends any time with these children. So it becomes my business. Whether I want it to or not.
It's eating me up inside and it's keeping me up at night. I am worked up and resentful and angry all the time. It's getting worse every week. It's not a healthy situation. It's not normal to keep this kind of anger inside. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's absolutely toxic. But there are only a few weeks left.
My question to you is: how bad is too bad? How important is job satisfaction and life enjoyment over the all-important bottom line?
Originally published as "How Bad Can It Be?" on my weekly column at gailvazoxlade.com