There were two times during my firefighting career that I was thinking of calling it quits. The first time was when I was still a probationary firefighter and I was feeling completely overwhelmed with all the information and responsibility that came with the job. And I just didn't know if I would ever really fit in. I stuck out like a sore thumb and felt like fish out of water. I had passed my exams and physicals with flying colours but still didn't know if I could 'do it'. It was hard. The physical hard I could manage but the mental hard was in a league of its own. It was tough hanging around the fire hall in anticipation of what might come. I could read protocols and scenarios and go through what if situations all day but tackling a scene pen to paper vs real life wasn't the same. I think I had a case of paralysis by analysis and would overthink what I had to do before I had even done it. I spoke to my husband about quitting and he just looked at me and said he'd back me on whatever decision I made but only after giving it 2 years. If in two years time I was not loving it I could quit and he'd support me. Ha! Of course he knew that it was just a matter of time before I gained some confidence through experience. That once I faced the big house/high rise/vehicle fire/trauma call I would feel better. He was right... And looking back it was just a bad case of the jitters.
The other time was after I had Jacob. It's a different mindset being a firefighter when you have a baby. I felt vulnerable... what if something happened to me at work? Was it responsible of me to put my life at risk trying to save the life of others when the most important life that mattered to me was my son's? While on maternity leave I battled this question inside me for months. Only to realize that if I quit and decided to stay at home, I wouldn't be serving him. Because I wouldn't be serving me. Life is not about playing it small and safe. It is about doing what fulfills me and taking on challenges and pushing myself through the times when I feel uncertain or afraid. Firefighting is a mind bend with me facing some great highs and great lows never knowing what the next second will bring when the alarm goes off.
I could never think of quitting again. I'm just having way too much fun. And even though I am not always home at night to be there for my children, and that shiftwork can be a constant juggling game in the family, they know they are loved and that their mama is happy doing what she loves. And I hope one day when they are older that they are proud of me... that I might inspire them to chase after their dreams and be anything that they want to be.
It will be exciting to see where we will all be in twenty years. xo