Friday, February 25, 2011

In the Pursuit of Balance.

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I started a new job on Valentine's Day and it is going very, very well.

So well that I'm slightly freaked out and waiting for something to go wrong. (Which I'm sure it will, since no job is perfect forever.)

It's great because my boss is funny and kind. It's great because I have a real-life coworker friend now who has a baby one week younger than mine. It's great because I laugh constantly. It's great because I'm working with teenagers again. It's great because I am appreciated. It's great because my boss hands me a Chipotle gift card and tells me to leave a little early. It's great because it's interesting and challenging and fun. It's great because I get to think about something other than the last time Gabe fell asleep or ate or got his diaper changed. It's great because I set my own schedule. It's great because I am happy.

Most of all, though, it's great because I feel like I can finally work and enjoy that elusive work-family balance.

Every single 'career' job I've ever worked, I've felt guilty for going home at the end of the day. Even if I stayed an hour later than I was 'supposed' to, my coworkers would stay three hours later and arrive earlier in the morning. I've never enjoyed the 'he who works longer is the better worker' game that I seem to always find myself playing with workaholics. (I'm so not a workaholic. Never have been. I do what I need to get done and go home. Amen.)

I think I set the tone for things at my interview, when I explained that 20 hours a week was perfect for me right now, since I have a baby. My boss told me I could work up to 30 hours a week, and I think I surprised him when I told him I didn't want to work more than 20 hours. When so many are suffering from underemployment, I'm choosing to work less.

Motherhood has changed me, empowered me. I'm advocating for myself and my family. I'm not going to quietly sit at my desk after the work day has ended and my coworkers are still working, trying to prove that I'm dedicated to my job. I am dedicated, but I am more dedicated to my baby. And everyone knows that.  No pretending required. It's quite freeing.

The president told me I'm a wife and mother first and "don't feel like you need to get very involved outside of your work time - I know you have a baby at home." My boss asks me how I'm doing with being away from Gabe.  My involvement in trips and retreats (overnight! away from baby!) is when I went it, at my own pace.

Sure, it's not all rainbows and sunshine, there's a longer commute since I drive Gabe to my mom's, ever-present school politics, and having appointments with the beloved breast pump. Budget cuts means Mike's income and Gabe's health coverage might be in jeopardy. We're a little scared, to be sure.

But I think I'm in the right place. I have time and energy to pursue other things, but still take home a steady paycheck and enjoy my time with other adults (and teenagers! No, I really do enjoy them). I took a financial risk in leaving my job, in working at Starbucks, and in starting this new job. It was scary, but it was what I needed to do.

I am so blessed. Thank you for being a part of my journey, friends! :)
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