I always knew I would be a working mom. When I became pregnant I never once considered staying home. My husband and I couldn’t afford to be without two incomes at the time, and, honestly, the idea of quitting my job to care for a baby felt alien to me.
Then I had my daughter.
First came the depressing issue of finding–and keeping–quality, affordable childcare. If I wanted to place my little one in a center I would have to make the equivalent of a second mortgage payment every month. (Back then I worked in a building that housed the headquarters of a major corporate entity – why couldn’t they provide a daycare center? That’s a topic for another post.)
When I did find good sitters to care for my daughter in their homes, I struggled to hold onto them. One had to quit due to family problems, and though our current sitter has given us no indication that she’ll be saying goodbye anytime soon, I have learned that you just never know…
The biggest issue for me, however, was the 8:30 to 5:30, Monday through Friday grind.
I didn’t want to quit my job, but I desperately wanted to be able to spend more time with my child. When work got slow, I would sit in my office and feel resentful that I had to be there when I could have been with her. I’m lucky to have skills that can be used wherever I can plug in a laptop, plus I enjoy working in the evenings from the comfort of my living room couch. Why couldn’t I split my time between home and the office? Why couldn’t I be more flexible?
I’m thrilled now to have a job that allows me to do just that. My fellow copywriter Cara blazed the trail in our workplace for flexible work schedules that allow parents to give their best at work and at home. I hope she’ll blog about how she convinced management to let her do a 30-hour work week with one day a week working from the “home office.” She demonstrated how successful it can be, and now several of us are benefiting from it. (Props, also, to Susan–a working mom herself–for being such an open-minded, helpful and, well, flexible boss.)
The opportunity to be flexible is what made me decide to take this job.
I love that my daughter spends more time with me than she does at the sitter’s. I like that, to a certain degree, I can control when and where I work. I don’t consider myself “part time.” In fact, I often find myself working close to full-time hours, I have full responsibility for several projects, and the hours when I do work are more likely to be spent actually working–I can’t gossip at the water cooler when I’m writing from home on a Sunday evening.
All this isn’t to say that the “G” word doesn’t haunt me still. I hate the guilty feeling on Mondays (my day off) that business continues at the office when I’m not there. I dread checking email on Tuesday morning–what if there was an emergency and I wasn’t available to help out?
Working from home on Tuesdays can be challenging with a toddler around; she watches more TV on that day than I’d like. And dragging a crying child out of bed on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays so everybody can make it out the door on time is still no fun.
In general, though, I feel like everybody gets the best of both worlds.
I get the satisfaction of continuing to work, my daughter gets to spend more time with mommy and still hang out three days a week with the sitter, whom she loves, and my workplace gets my best effort because I’m happy, focused, and grateful for the opportunity to be flexible.