I’ve just spent 2 days at the London Vet Show, fulfilling 14 hours of my 35 hour Continuing Professional Development requirement. Even if vets only work part time, they still need to do full time CPD and this can be expensive. The London Vet Show is reasonably priced, provides good content and is convenient for me to get to as we live in greater London, so I’ve been every year since it started.
Attending the show reminds me that once upon a time I was a full time vet. It was hard work but it was my life, not just my career. I didn’t mind surgery but I wasn’t a surgeon; I especially enjoyed diagnosing and treating people’s pets, and seeing them get better again.
These days, as a limited service provider, I can only perform routine tasks. I’m a mobile vet which is nice because I get to see something a lot of vets don’t; pets relaxed in their own home. But if I see anything remotely exciting or interesting, then it gets whisked off to a surgery based vet and I only see the animal again once everything is fine.
Most of the time I don’t mind too much. I do get the odd pang but it soon subsides in the hurly burly of family life.
However, after being immersed in a close approximation of my old life for two whole days, I find it harder forget what my life used to be like.
Two whole days of talking to reps; all those new innovations, the toys, the lovely equipment, the reference books. The amazing speakers, the interesting topics, the information. Things I once knew, things I could learn about, things I’ll never know.
I get a glimpse over the fence of motherhood into the backyard of what could have been, and I give myself some time to grieve for what I used to do on a day to day basis. I know I’ll never do this again but sometimes the grass shines so green.
I think it’s important to be able to pick my children up after school and vet jobs that fit in with school and holiday hours are pretty much non existent. Also, I’m too old and grumpy to work for someone else these day, so self employed I will remain.
When I arrived home, there was a pile of papers from the kids’ school bags on my desk. Under them are the annual school photos and taking pride of place was the group one. My children are all at the same school for one year only and I told them that this photo needed to be a good one. It is.
I know that they are my life now and my career is behind me.
Is it a fair swap?
The answer to that question really depends on what kind of day I’m having, but generally yes. Of course there are days I’d happily sell them all on eBay but then I try and force myself to think about the awful days I had at work. The terrible bosses, the difficult clients, the aggressive patients and the heart breaking losses. It wasn’t all good and I wouldn’t miss out on daily life with my family for anything.
But every year, after the Show is all over and I’m home again, I feel the same way. A little down, a bit mopey, kind of unsettled. I feel regret; just a little. As a rule I don’t bother wasting time reminiscing about things that are no longer part of my life, but when I contemplate the loss of what I had before I had a family, it does hurt.