Thursday, April 29, 2010

i'm giving myself a standing ovation

Even though I accepted this transfer to Virginia, earlier in the month, the thing that has been weighing on me the most is that in this new role - I would be required to be in our corporate office, five days a week. Over the past few days, the picture that has been painted for me, from people who work there, is that those who are not the first to arrive and the last to leave, are viewed less favorably than those who commit their entire lives to their work.

And well ... that's just not how I roll. Because while I do work hard and have a lot of passion for my career, it's not my life. My life is made up of a lot of things, and at this juncture, my children are among the most important.

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Now that there's been a new "twist" in our situation (and for those 200+ people who have left me comments that I have yet to publish inquiring IS IT WHAT I THINK IT IS? the answer is YES) my priorities have shifted even more, once again.

My current boss called me earlier this week to tell me that because the children are due to start kindergarten in the Fall, this move would happen in June. So that by July 1, I am sitting behind my desk, in my new office, in my new assignment. A new assignment which sounds absolutely wonderful to me. Minus the whole sitting in my new office every day stuff.

Being who I am, ye unable to hold a secret, I spilled the beans and told my boss what is going on. I also told him that I suddenly have considerable hesitation (and heartburn) (and nausea) (and bouts of drowsiness) about taking a job that will pull me away from my family for 40+ hours a week.

He said that he understood. And he called his boss to tell him the situation.

When my boss called me back a few minutes later he essentially told me that the boat had left the dock. I accepted the position, they expect me in the position. In an office. Monday through Friday. Either Seven to Four. Eight to Five. Or Nine to Six. My boss was told by his boss, that he needs to coach me to take this job because it has already been communicated to senior management and there is no backing out. If we need assistance with childcare, we can hire a nanny.

(Or two.)

Now, please. Imagine my response, if you will.

First, imagine me thinking, "Are you seriously telling me that I need to put my CAREER before my FAMILY?" And then, imagine those words coming out of my mouth before I could stop them. Words to the effect of, "Are you telling me that I need to put my CAREER before my FAMILY?"

EVERY WEEK DAY?

To some, this might not seem like a big deal, but to me, someone who has worked out of their home for the past 10 years, in an extremely flexible job, it's like being thrown in to a lion's den.

There was more discussion, most notably - my boss telling me that although the expectation is that I accept this job, he does not want to feel guilt down the road for putting me in a position that rips me away from my children.

(My boss is a very good, compassionate man.)

We concluded the conversation and I told him that I'd be in touch.

The next day he called again. Twice. But I never answered my phone because I didn't know what to say. There is a BIG part of me that wants to move and since I said I'd take it, I feel like I should. Moreover, I essentially had us mentally packed and out the door, living on the east coast - two months from now.

But as more information emerges about this job and what the expectations are on me, I feel positively weak. Like I have absolutely no control over how the company is going to use me, and work me, and drag me away from my family, and yuck. I don't want it. Despite the benefits and pension and all things that shine and glimmer.

I DON'T WANT IT.

Because the gain is not worth the loss.


Today, I decided that I just couldn't avoid my boss any longer, so I called him. And because I'm nothing if not open to a fault, I told him that the reason he hasn't heard from me in the past few days is because I have been deliberately hiding from him and screening all calls.

Then I told him that while I want this job and I am more than happy to move, and even though I've already accepted it, I absolutely will not take on a job that will force me to be in the office - five days a week for at least eight hours a day. Especially given my current situation. Ahem.

If, however, the company is willing to allow me some flexibility - such that I arrive every day at around 9 AM, and depart every afternoon at around 1 PM, and continue my work in the early morning, or evening, once the children are down for the night, that would suit me just fine. But I am not going to consistently tell my children that Mommy cannot volunteer in their kindergarten class room because it would be frowned upon by her company.

I am not going to miss out on my children's lives because of WORK.


My boss, a man that I really respect and appreciate, hesitated before saying, "OK, so let me make sure I've got this straight. You don't want this job?" I replied, "No, I do want this job and I want the relocation. But I don't want this job under the conditions that I currently anticipate."

He hesitated again and said, "So, what you are saying is, you cannot take this job and be in the office every day from 8 to 5?" I clarified, "It's not that I cannot take this job ... it's that I will not take this job, with zero workplace flexibility. So if they are not willing to make that concession, I am not willing to take it."

After a long pause, he said, "The problem is, if you want this kind of flexibility, all working mothers will want this kind of flexibility. We can't make a concession for you that we don't make for everyone else."

And I responded, "Well, I don't see that as being a problem. It is my belief that a HAPPY employee is a PRODUCTIVE employee and if you can find a way to merge family life more seamlessly with work life, you might see an increase in productivity from your employees with young children who are silently stewing and biding their time until they can break off the golden handcuffs, snatch that golden carrot and quit."

He was quiet as I continued, "I would bet that the vast majority of working mothers, with young children, and who are locked in an office, are being eaten up inside because they are away from their children for 50+ hours a week. We brought these little people in to the world so what? We can see them two, maybe three, waking hours a day? That is totally unacceptable. In this day and age and in our profession, with computers and cell phones and broadband coverage, it doesn't have to be that way. It shouldn't be that way. It's time our management evolves to better accommodate the working parent. There are a lot of excellent employees out there who are simply not willing to sacrifice their family life for their career. However good that career might be."

My boss laughed and said, "I totally understand your position. But let me take it up line and see what happens. I'm not feeling too optimistic that management will endorse your plan."

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Eh, I'm not feeling too optimistic either.

But I am feeling a whole lot better that they know full well what I'm capable of committing.

And what I'm not.

83 comments:

  1. I am so proud of you... And I'm giving you a standing ovation as well. You deserve it.

    I will be praying. Maybe, management will totally agree with you and it will all work out perfectly. I mean, other miracles have happened recently. :)

    Marla @ www.asthefarmturns.wordpress.com

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  2. GOOD FOR YOU! I hope that it goes your way... and if they could pull there heads out of where the sun don't shine *ahem* they would understand it is best for THEM too!

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  3. Let me give you a standing ovation too! Yay for sticking up for not only yourself and your family but other working parents too! I too find it hard to believe that in this day and age so many employers are still operating in the dark ages.

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  4. Clap. Clap. Clap. Whistle.

    Do you read Dooce? She just went to DC and met with the taskforce on Workplace Flexibility. They should have invited you.

    Do you wonder how much really good talent is being wasted because employers won't bend on this rule?

    Okay. Your blog and life are giving me an ulcer these days. Burp.

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  5. OH. MY. GOSH! Job or no job, I am so excited for you! Congratulations! You mind as well just put it out there and start talking about it because I don't think there's anyone who hasn't caught on after that post!

    I completely understand and respect where you're coming from on the job situation. I bet it feels good to have that off your chest.

    Blessings to you all!

    Laura (Ohio)

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  6. Standing ovation (with hugs) for staying strong to your family values. I can't even imagine what it took to let your boss know what you were and weren't willing to compromise on. I truly hope you are able to have the best of both worlds. And it seems to me in this age of technology that most people are expected to do more work outside of the office than in--no matter how long they sit at the desk each day.

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  7. I second the standing ovation!! I was working for a big chemical company and traveled tirelessly before and after my oldest was born, and enjoyed only a bit of the flexibility of working from home that you mention. I was desperate to be home with my daughter instead of leaving her with my husband (airline pilot so home some... not some) or our neighbor several days each week.

    I distinctly remember begging God one afternoon on my long drive home to "show me how I could be home" because I couldn't figure out how we could live on regional airline salary. That very day when I got home my husband had orders calling him to active duty with his ARMY Reserve unit for 18 months. I quickly shut the door on my career and all the security it provided.

    I won't lie and say that sometimes I don't miss interacting with adults more regularly, but overall I feel a real peace about the decision. My heart just aches for you and all the stress you are under! I pray that your freedom from it is only around the corner!!

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  8. Yes *punching the air*. You are completely right and brave and RIGHT to do this and say this. It is possible and it will not hurt productivity or whatever they are fussed about one iota. In fact, it should be pointed out to those "up the line" that you have worked under flexible conditions for the past 10 years and you were the most suitable candidate for the job. It shouldn't be just working mothers who say this either. It should be working fathers too. They want to go to sprts day and support their kids in their school plays etc. It is right that they should do so - no "allowed" about it.

    Well done.

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  9. Hurra! Well done. [applause]

    I think your boss needs some ammunition to take upline. There are loads of studies on the impact of flexible work schedules --check out Google scholar. For example: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=flexible+work+schedules+review&btnG=Search&as_sdt=2001&as_ylo=2008&as_vis=0

    :-) Karin

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  10. Wow. You've currently got a very, very, sweet deal. (For the record, I think that big oil has waaaaay too much money. I can't imagine many other companies willing to pay a full-time salary with fantastic benefits to someone working... what, 30-35 hours a week? 9 to 1 and then 2 or 3 hours in the evening?) I suggest that you pursue being a consultant. That would give you the flexibility that you need. Or what about working 9 to 1pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays or something similar? Your company sounds willing to help out a bit. I feel that you should try to meet them halfway.

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  11. What a tough spot to be in. I pray that God will direct you to the right answer for your family and he will open the doors and windows needed to get you there.

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  12. You DO rock. So excited for you ... can't wait to hear what they come back with. GUARANTEED they make concessions ... they want you. Who wouldn't????

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  13. GOOD FOR YOU! Since you don't feel optomistic that Virginia is willing to be flexible do you have a back up plan, because I seriously cannot imagine you behind a desk and away from the kids for 50 - 60 hours a week. You're just not that kind of mom.

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  14. Firstly, CONGRATULATIONS! AWESOME! AND TERRIFYING!

    Secondly, hats off on the boss conversation. I work 30 hrs a week plus 1/2 days on sat's once a month. Its rough. I miss my boys so much and I can't imagine working 50+ hrs for any amount of money, HOWEVER, I get no insurance and very little vacation time. There's a trade off. Very few jobs, if any, will pay what you're used to making with full benefits and allow you flexibility like you want. It just isn't out there (not that it shouldn't be... it just isn't). At least not here in KS for working mom's like me. I really hope you find what you're looking for.

    And again, congrats! And OMG!!!!

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  15. ::hugs:: That's a lot to have on your plate right now for sure.

    I am so incredibly intrigued with wondering what your secret is and wondering about all the screened comments. AND OMG the nausea, and the heartburn, and drowsiness and are you pregnant? And I hope I'm not the only one who's asking. Because that's one incredinly nebby question.


    I can commiserate on the full plate thing though. We've been TTC since October 09, are in the process of negotiating the sale of our current home and purchase of another to close in mid-june, 3 weddings btw now and july 4th weekend on top of the move, and for the last 2+ weeks I've been having terrible nausea, vomiting, (-pregnancy tests) and abdominal pain which seems to indicate a real possibility of having my gall bladder removed in the near future.

    It seems like the pile of things on my plate is just growing and growing and growing.

    And I'm hoping for a half marathon in the fall too!

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  16. Ohhhh.... i so realize what your secret is.....for your sake I hope it doesn't end up in multiples again....but oh how some of us would laugh....have you told your pastor? you know, the one who told you and Charlie to sleep naked in his sermon (which by the way I used for my devotional at our womens group at church and they all thought it was entertaining and now I can't wait to share this tidbit!)

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  17. Good For You!!!!!!!

    I think a lot of companies out there pay lip service to work-life balance, but don't put their policies where their mouths are. I hope that putting your foot down gets you what you deserve. (I also think people like to play up the 'working mom' vs 'stay-at-home mom' thing to keep us moms from banding together and getting some change that's helpful for everyone).

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  18. Good for you! You are speaking for so many working mothers. I totally agree with you and if you can't have it your way it's their loss. Good luck! I am sure it will all work out the way you need it to one way or the other.

    Congratulations!!!

    Kim (Canada)

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  19. Giving you a well-deserved standing ovation; now go take a nap :)

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  20. I think I'm one of the few people that actually read that blog before you deleted it. I still don't quite get why you took it down... I thought it was awesome news. But I'll save my congratulations for when you are ready to share!

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  21. Hmmm, sounds to me like you've finally made up your mind - and spoke it. Good for you. Maybe they'll take what you've said and run with it(and hopefully the rest of corporate america will listen and learn to).

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  22. Been following your blog for quite some time now, but first time poster. Good for you for speaking your mind. I hope it all works out -- maybe they'll be open to flex-time for you. I must say, though, an 8 hour day sounds like heaven to me. I'm an attorney (supposedly part-time) and work at least 50+ hours a week. Many nights my LO goes to sleep before I get home and I work many nights at home. Yes, I feel terribly guilty, but I remind myself that am providing for my family. I can't help but think that a predictable 8-hour work schedule would allow me to plan and spend quality time with my child. Right now, it is very difficult to have any kind of concrete schedule, because I don't really have control over my time. Then again, I haven't had the set-up you've had since yours were born and I totally understand how hard it would be on you and the children. Anyway, best of luck to you.

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  23. Jen-My heart goes out to you in such a tough situation. I've been going through much of the same thing (with out the big IT). At the end of May the trips and I will be moving from Boise, ID to Sioux Falls, SD. I'm from So. Dak. and never have wanted to move back there. I love my family but we've been here so long I'm a true Idahoan. I love it here. But my hubby has been there since Mar and I'm ready for us to be all together under the same roof for more than just a weekend.

    I don't have any great words of wisdom or advice. Just wanted you to know that you aren't the only one going through this kind of hard decision. I've been blogging a lot about my thoughts on everything so stop by and check it out.

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  24. YOU GO, GIRL!!!!!!!!
    You and yours will do what is best for you all - when you have all the facts!

    You were honest!! That's foremost.
    ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

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  25. I totally admire you taking a stand to maintain your family time. I hope your boss returns with some good news from management! [crossing fingers & toes]

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  26. Wow, Jen. Three simple words: you amaze me!!!! :) Crossing my fingers that it all pans out!!!!

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  27. I tried telecommuting 10 years ago and it was difficult and I wasted a lot of time not having files I needed when and where I needed them.

    Yesterday, I got a call from my former employer to help out in a crisis, last minute deadline situation. I was able to help out, and finish the project without ever leaving my couch or my children (or my pjs and slippers.) With today's technology, job flexibility should be a given. It's too bad that more people in positions of authority don't realize how productive we can be when we have a balance of work and family.

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  28. Good on ya! Quite frankly, that is exactly what I would have done!

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  29. E-gads!!! I cannot believe you laid it on the LINE -you were so brave. I do admire you for being UPFRONT and HONEST and communicating YOUR SITUATION. I don't know too many people that would have been able to do that...probably including me. You threw it out to the UNIVERSE now just wait and see what happens. Good on you. What will be, will be...

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  30. **I am not kidding my Word Verification was RESPECTED!!!

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  31. You go, woman! It's about time someone had the guts to say this. Of course one has to be very, very good at one's job to break that Mom ceiling, and you are!

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  32. WOW!!!!! (I'm speechless...)

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  33. Okay -- so I haven't posted anything the past few times because I kept just sitting here puzzled... but now really... if it's not what I think it is - and I think it's something pretty daggone special! Then I'm baffled.

    And just out of curiousity... you know they want you in VA by July... and that they want you in the office 8-5, 9-6... do you know, just by some off chance - not that you'll need it - if this company that you've worked for awhile now, is good about giving appropriate amounts of time off for events of the 'motherly' nature. You know... just in case. Always good to be prepared for such matters. ;)

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  34. Way to go Jen. Stick to your guns on what you believe. Those little people at home are your top priority right now.

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  35. Bravo! You're a regular Norma Rae - and that takes guts. Hope you get your work plan and that the other working parents in the office get it too.

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  36. You're my hero. AMEN!

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  37. I usually love ALL your posts, but this one is especially terrific. It's the reason that I'm afraid to actually finish my MBA, b/c it might mean that I actually have to go back to work and commit MY LIFE to an office and AWAY from my precious children. I want to work (on some level) and I want to contribute and I'm smart,and capable etc, but dammit I don't like their RULES of having to be in an office from 8 to 5 just because everyone else has to and if they made a concession for one of us...that they'd have to make it for everyone. LAME-O. You rock, Jen....you totally rock. I always figure that you can't have exactly what you want, unless you straight up ASK for what you want. Afterall they can't read our minds. :) Jill Jones

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  38. Hey Jen!

    First of all WOW you are SO BRAVE and awesome! Way to stand up for balance. A physician professor of ours who is a rather progressive soul in so many ways (he's a hem/onc guy making a ton of money but he wants a single payer system which would undoubtedly reduce his salary...go figure!?) sent the entire med school a book recommendation called "The War on Moms: On life in a family un-friendly nation" by Sharon Lerner. I haven't read it yet (I'm kind of afraid too, I might get too riled up!) but I intend to. It's a never ending battle for female medical students/interns/residents to have children and not be ridiculed and looked down on by the medical community. Because if I take even 2 weeks maternity leave someone else has to pick up the slack (I know of a plastic surgeon who had her child on Sunday as was back in the OR on Monday, glad she wasn't operating on me!). Yes, I chose this very much male dominated profession with my eyes wide open. It's true. But there's something to be said for the war on family our culture insidiously wages. There's something to be said for Dads being around too! And finally there's something to be said for woman like you who won't stand for it. Thanks for being amazing. :)

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  39. If you haven't already, you should pick up a copy of "Work+Life" by Cali Williams Yost.

    It has GREAT advice for how to make a compelling pitch to management and key decisions makers to get support and approval for a flexible work schedule.

    Good luck!

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  40. i was one of the lucky few who got to read the post that will not be mentioned before it was deleted... I reckon u should post it again since u've pretty much let the cat out of the bag! U dont want to know how far my jaw dropped! It was a classic!

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  41. For lack of a better phrase "you go girl!" we must stand by our convictions for the betterment of our lives & I admire the example you set for us, your readers, but mostly for your children.

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  42. You are a bloody god! I'm giving you a standing ovation!

    You've summed it up perfectly here. I am a working mum and thankfully able
    to work flexibly and drop off and pick up my daughter from school.
    I am certainly a happier employee because of it
    and am always happy to go the extra mile
    for the organisation to balance their
    faith in me.

    I look forward to hearing a positive response
    from them! We need trailblazers like
    you to start changing mindsets.

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  43. It sounds like you're at peace with things, and I'm glad for that. I'm really hoping that the company will accommodate your request, but if not, at least you put it out there before you started and were downright miserable.

    I cannot focus and concentrate enough while working from home with my children awake, but I can definitely understand the value in flexible work hours, and doing some of your work from home at a time when you can concentrate.

    And Jen...if I'm reading between the lines properly...OMG! :D

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  44. You accepted a job and then changed your mind because it is a typical corporate job? Then you avoided your boss for two days and demanded that the company change the deal that you agreed on because you have regrets? I don't know what the ovation is about.

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  45. Wow fair play to you woman. I think you are wonderful and I really hope you get what you desire from the new employers. They would be lucky to have you.

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  46. I haven't jumped into this whole discussion because it is SUCH a hard decision to make. Count me among the working mothers who is torn up by the lack of time I have with my children. Every day I have to make the decision that, yes, I will go to work before my children wake up, and not see them until suppertime. I do this because the alternative is no house, no gasoline, no groceries, no clothing (the things my paycheck covers).
    There are no easy answers when it comes to motherhood and working. All you can do is pray that you will be able to live with whatever decision you make.

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  47. Bravo! At my husband's job - Reiner works in the engineering field - where the company he works for - a national company - is very family oriented.

    He said that there are several mother's who have careers and work 9 - 2. The Mother's take the work home after 2 and pick up there kids from school. At lot of time these women end up getting more work done at home than not.

    Good luck. I hope it all works out. Talk to you soon. Marg.

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  48. Wow. Just, wow.

    Good for you.

    The most I ever stood up for work-life balance was insisting that my job allow we to express breastmilk at my desk (My boss was also nursing at the time, so no biggie.) and refusing to go to a work session from 5:00-8:00 pm (which happened to be on the day that my husband left on army assignment, again).

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  49. Wow. Good for you that you really said it for all of us who don't/won't. At another company I worked for, one employee was given permission by her manager to work T-W-Th and have M&F off to be with her kids. We were told it was up to the manager and her manager said yes. None of the other managers said yes. They have asked her from time to time to switch back to full days and she does not and they have kept her while other mothers working M-F have left.

    I hope they see you point and offer flexibility, but with a man being at the top, I'm not sure that will happen. I'm praying this works. It will be a giant leap for moms everywhere.

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  50. I am giving you a standing ovation too!!!!! Seriously, way to go! I am one of those working mothers who is silently stewing and waiting for the day that I can cast off my golden hancuffs and QUIT, although I do work at home and truly feel on the one hand that it's a very luxurious situation (get paid for a full-time gig when I'm with my kids most of the day). But still, my job is such that I am forced to have a full-time nanny, cannot regularly accompany my kids to the various things they engage in -classes, playdate, etc. (they are 2). Either way, I dream of and crave a situation where I could work part-time, or work just at night, or something slightly different that would enable me to be their primary caregiver in the hours that they are awake. And what I really dream of is just quitting (which I am actually getting closer to doing, but that is neither here nor there).

    The bottom line is, if my company could provide me with a situation where I could flex my hours or something like that, I would be a way, way more productive resource for those hours I am working (versus always having my mind in 2 places, as it is now).

    FWIW, I'm also really glad you made the decision you did. Similarly, I have just been offered a job where I'd make literally 3x what I do, with MUCH more interesting job content, and would still work at home. However, the catch is that I'd be VERY busy (prob 50 hours a week, on average), and probably have to travel 2-3x per month (day trips, but still). I was soooo tempted, but ultimately I turned it down, b/c I couldn't stand the thought of taking that time straight out of my kids pocket, essentially. It was just not the right decision for our family. And I'm proud of myself for making it, and proud that I essentially couldn't be bought. Sounds like you are acting in exactly the same vein!

    AWESOME STUFF!

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  51. I totally agree that there should be more workplace flexibility for working moms and resent that companies feel the way your boss does about it being a problem to offer it to all working moms. But, I also feel a little defensive because I work a (mostly) 40 hour week in an office and I don't feel at all like I put work before family. Maybe it's because I'm proud that my husband stays home and drives them to/from school and spends the afternoons at the park. Or maybe it's because my job is flexible (not as flexible as it seems you want), but today I'm taking a 2 hour lunch break to attend "Memories with Mom" at my son's preschool and then leaving at 4:30 to be team mom for my daughter's softball game. Or maybe it's because I'm the only parent with a college degree, and it's my salary that allows us to own a home, two cars, and take family vacations. By working, I am choosing to put my family's needs first. It's just a different perspective. I really am happy with my job and don't feel like I'm missing out on my kids lives.

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  52. Sarah at 12:25: You think I have a very, very sweet deal? Really? Maybe if you could see my work schedule at the moment, you'd disagree.

    Yesterday I worked 15 hours. Almost 10 of those hours were from home. Early in the morning before my children were awake, and late at night, once my children were asleep. I'm not asking for full time benefits, so I can work 30-35 hours a week. I'm asking for FLEXIBILITY in WHERE I work. Despite a very busy day yesterday, I had the opportunity to read my children story over lunch and give everyone bath's last night. Earlier this week, I took an afternoon to take them on an outing. I made up my time, AND THEN SOME, but having the OPTION to do that is HUGE in my life.

    There is absolutely NO reason for me to be chained to a desk - in an office - when I could just as easily be doing that work from home or elsewhere. That's the bottom line. For the past 10 years I've managed to work, quite successfully, from home. I'd like just a wee bit of flexibility to do that again, as opposed to being told that NO, YOU MUST BE IN THE OFFICE EVERY SINGLE DAY FROM 8 TO 5.

    The way I see it, the company will actually get MORE from me, if they allow me to have some flexibility in my life.

    Anon @ 10:41PM: I'm guessing that you don't know the whole story here. And that's OK, I haven't openly shared the whole story. (Well, I did. But then I quickly took it down.)

    There's a lot more to me just accepting a deal and then backing out simply because I didn't like the terms. Although, quite frankly, considering they gave me the offer on a Monday and wanted my response on a Thursday, seems to me that it's perfectly reasonable for someone to waffle about uprooting their entire lives and moving 3K miles in less than 8 weeks.

    Moreover, once I provided my boss (and his boss) with some rather critical information, I would have thought there would be SOME compassion. There wasn't. And quite frankly, this ticked me off - to the point that if I had spoken to any one any sooner than I did, it might have been a very unfortunate conversation.

    The fact that I know what I need, based on my FAMILY situation (and current personal situation) and the fact that I talked to my boss in a calm manner about those needs - as opposed to sucking it up and taking one for the corporate team when I know that to do so, would cause me and my family harm - is what makes me PROUD of myself.

    If you don't agree?

    I don't care.

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  53. I really admire the situation you have NOW for work. I would think if they want to keep you, they need to be flexible. The cost of living has got to be cheaper in VA, isn't anywhere cheaper than San Diego? You would have more space in a house. I love reading about your life, good luck!

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  54. Good for you! standing ovation for sure!

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  55. Hello! I've been following your blog for awhile now and this is my first time leaving a comment. In my humble opinion, you totally deserve a standing ovation. I believe things will work out for the best for you and your family. Besides, you can't get yummy Mexican food in Virgina :-P
    Good Luck!

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  56. You tell 'em!!! I definitely agree that working moms need more flexibility in balancing work & family & that happy employees makes for more productive employees. Lets hope your upper management see this too. If more employers would just get on this bandwagon I think we'd have an extremely good thing going that would benefit all!

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  57. Christy: I'm really glad that you don't feel like you are missing out on your children's lives ... but it also sounds like your employer grants you more flexibility than what my employer was willing to grant me. When I asked if I could cut out every so often to volunteer in a classroom - or go on a field trip - I was told NO. Unless, I took vacation time. REALLY?? Seriously?? Even if it was just for a couple of hours and I'd catch up on work later that day, or the next??

    NO. It would not be viewed upon favorably.

    If I was working on an assembly line, putting together widgets, maybe I could see that I cannot leave before my shift is up. But I don't have that kind of a career. I have a laptop with an air card and a cell phone. I can do my work ANYWHERE and I do. If you were following my blog in 2008, you'll know that I took a 3 week, 7K mile x-country road trip and worked almost the WHOLE time we were driving.

    When I asked my boss how working parents go to see their kids play in afternoon soccer games, he said, "I really don't think they do. They catch the games on the weekends."

    THAT offends ME.

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  58. We all make choices. For me, it's important that a parent is around for my children when they need one. It doesn't have to be me...but my husband's career leaves very little flexibility, and we need the income, stability, and insurance that his job provides. And he would never give it up, but that's another discussion entirely...

    Charlie is wonderful with the kids, and until I started questioning the ISSUE, I'd tell you to go to work, enjoy the kids on the evenings and weekends, and take comfort in knowing you were providing well for your family by working while Charlie handled more of the hands-on needs. The only time I think it needs to be the mother at home is early in the breastfeeding relationship...then mom has a huge advantage over dad.

    You've drawn a pretty tough line in the sand with your job. IMHO, having one or two flex days a week would be a fine compromise. You could still attend some events, but your employer would have you in the office much of the time, as they desire. If that wouldn't work for you, then better for them to find out now than move you and have you quit.

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  59. I will endorse you for President of the United States of America. Let's get orginized right now. Jen is the right, let's join the fight. Jen for President.

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  60. I can only imagine the angst you feel right now! I really think your management is against this because they don't want others in your office to have the same privileges. They know you can work seamlessly from home and conduct business professionally, but it's become about the *other* mom's you'll be working with that concern them. I can see why you are ticked off.

    A big hug as you go through all your upcoming changes. You'll find a way to make it all work!

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  61. I'm so glad you told the whole truth to your boss. WHATEVER happens, it will be for the best. Going there chained to a desk 8 hours a day would not be good. Remember, WHATEVER happens, it is for the best.

    Ummmm.... when can we expect this on TV as a daily series?

    ~Cindy! :D
    ..

    P.S. You could make more from the TV show than you make now, maybe?¿?

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  62. Good for you for standing up for what you believe in!

    It's amazing in today's world that this is still a fight. I am starting a full-time in the office job on Monday (hoping I can push it to one day at home in 6-9 months or so). It feels right to me as my youngest is 16 and is gone from 7-2 for school and 3-5 or 6 for swimming. I have worked an alternative schedule for over 20 years. It hasn't been easy or pretty. I was very worried about obtaining a full-time position, but guess what, the company still valued by experience.

    If they bend, get it in an email. Yes, I've been burned in the past.

    Just another thought - has official policy not caught up to real life? Seems like more companies are that way in reality - especially with the going off for few hours situation. Good luck!!

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  63. Good for you Jen! And congrats!!

    It seems like the sky is raining babies lately, maybe that's a sign, haha.

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  64. Hi J- First time, long time. I've been reading here for years and enjoy your stories. Sounds like you have a great deal on your plate, good luck.....

    As an older, working mom with college-aged kids, your situation makes me nervous. Aren't you the main bread winner for your family? Do you hold the family healthcare benefits? It seems like such a huge risk.

    I guess I was lucky when I picked my profession. Being a nurse, I have been able to work part time, off hours and still make decent $$$ that augmented our income.

    If you do move, good luck. We recently relocated from CA to Chicago for my husband's job- although we left the kids behind ( One a freshman at UC).

    Healthy and positve thoughts for you and your family~

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  65. Jen, I am sorry to offend you, but I do think you should leave your options open. Why not propose working a four-day work week? Or half-days on Mondays and Fridays? Or just something to keep the dialogue going! If you are excited about this position, I think you can make it happen with some flexibility. On another note... 15 hours? Really? That is tough for this cynic to believe. 10 hours from 2am to 7am and 8pm to 1am? That can't be a healthy situation. Your kids need you to be happy, well-rested, and alert. (Of course, my raising your blood pressure is probably not that helpful either. But I'm just keeping it real. Judging from the list of comments, your approval rate is pretty darn good!)

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  66. I'm just curious -- if it turns out that you and your future boss/employer can't find a compromise, what will you do? Can you stay in your current position in SD and continue to work the same schedule? Or has that option been taken away? Can your family do without the added salary that I assume would be part of the move? Even if, hypothetically speaking, you needed more space and food and stuff? And you never know, some of the things you are asking for *might* be easier to negotiate once you have been in the office for awhile and have proven yourself. Then again, you might not have that kind of time, hypothetically speaking. (Yes, I saw the now-deleted post....)

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  67. Are you pregnant?

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  68. Sarah, my options are very open. I talked to my boss about one day a week, working from home (in my new position) and he said NO. That's not an option. The option to stay in SD, although still available to me, would be a very career limiting decision. On the upside, my husband holds even more professional registrations than I do, and is extremely qualified, so even if the floor fell out on my tomorrow, he COULD find a job.

    Thankfully, I keep track of my hours each day, so if any cynics come along ... I can set the record straight.

    Yesterday, I was up at 5:45 and started working at 6 AM, checking e-mail and reviewing reports. I had a conference call at 7 AM, that lasted until 8 AM and then another call that began at 8 AM and lasted until 9:30 AM.

    Then, I called my boss. Then, I took a 45 minute break to eat a bowl of cereal and update my blog. Then, I ran out the door to a long lunch meeting. I got home last night at around 6 PM. I took two hours to eat dinner and give the kids baths and tuck them in to bed, and then I worked from 8 PM until midnight.

    Add it up. It's 15 hours. And it's not atypical, for me. It's also part of the reason my exercise regiment has plummeted and I've gained 20 pounds in the past year.

    Is it healthy? Heck no. I'm sure it's not. But I've got work to do and so I get it done, whenever I can. But while I'm checking e-mail, I'm often nuzzling a child on my lap. AND the ability to do that, doesn't make it seem so bad at all.

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  69. I think what the couple people are failing to understand when they question your choice is that it's not like you HAVE to work. You work because you like it, you're good at it, and you like the finer things in life. It's not like you guys are buried in debt. I'm sure you have a sizeable nest egg. It's not like your husband is unemployable.

    You could walk away right now and I'm CERTAIN you could go somewhere else, pay cash for a house, do consulting work on your terms, and raise sheep and spin your own yarn.

    Look at me. I walked away and haven't worked for 9 YEARS.

    I got turkeys yesterday, girlfriend. And three more chickens, but who's counting? You could not imagine how much stress I am under. We can't figure out whether to rent a condo or a house for our one month summer vacation this year.

    There is more than one way to live. And one way is to jump off the gerbil wheel. It takes a certain mentality to think this way though. You must go ROGUE.

    Give em hell!

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  70. You go girl!!! Call me when you've got a chance! hehehe....

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  71. If you're the one with all the benefits, and your current employer is flexible but the job will fizzle out in a couple of years....here's what I'm thinking... Health benefits are important to have, but especially if there was a foreseen need for increased medical care. And wow, your employer has been so great with your leaves and flexible work schedule over the years, and if there was any chance you'd need another leave anytime soon, it might be nice to stick with your current job instead of one that would be less understanding.

    If you stay where you are now, and end up needing to take some time off work in the semi-near future, maybe you can stay with the current gig for now and plan on Charlie transitioning to the primary breadwinner in another year or two.

    I thought it was awesome when you two were both working part-time and sharing parenting. I wish health insurance and other benefits allowed more couples to do that. Because I truly do think it gives a wonderful work/life balance. I enjoy my children SO MUCH MORE when I'm not around them all the time. And they seem to appreciate me more, too. When you're working a lot, there are a lot of posts about wanting to see your family more. But remember all the posts when you were about to lose your mind or eat your weight in chocolate (or both) when you weren't working? Not having something makes us appreciate it so much more.

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  72. Anne - it's actually the same employer ... I'd just be transferring to one of our corporate offices, where there is a lot less work place flexibility than what I currently have in "the field."

    And yes, my employer has been absolutely amazing during the time that Charlie and I have been growing our family. It is such a fantastic company to work for, I really am so incredibly lucky. Not only do I enjoy my job - I work with a great group of people and the benefits are outstanding.

    The challenge for me, is giving up the awesome flexibility that I have now, for the strict office schedule. There is no doubt, I get in 8+ hours a day, but once every so often, those hours are put in before and/or after, I spend time with my kids at the pool.

    I definitely don't do that every day, because I'm usually too busy. But sometimes, I get caught up enough that I can cut out for a few hours, and it makes me appreciate my job that much more.

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  73. I work for a university in the state of Florida in a very small department. I was part time before I had my son, but once I came back from maternity leave (5 months of heaven), they had lost another employee and asked that I come back as full time status.

    Sure, I replied, on the condition that I spend only 20 hours per week on campus. The other 20 are at home (or wherever), so that I am not hiring childcare nor am I away from my baby 11 hours a day. They agreed.

    Nearly five years later, I still have my agreement in place and it couldn't be better. I work 10-2 p.m. MTRF with Wednesdays at home the whole day.

    Oh, did I mention the boss that agreed to this arrangement was a man? A physics professor whose attorney wife was told after she became pregnant in law school to withdraw and come back when she was ready to take her career seriously (!). He was (and is) one of the few men I know who "get it" when it comes to truly balancing home and career.

    Of course, working for the bankrupt state of Florida, I haven't had a raise in four years and, after a Ph.D. with 8 years in the same position, I only make $33,000/year. So what?? I have time with my son and my husband, I love my students and I have no resentment.

    Priceless.

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  74. I found your blog via Jmom's at Lots of Scotts! I commend you on standing up for yourself. I am not married yet, but the guy I am dating has a clear understanding that I want to be able to be at home with children. My current job has a weird flexibility and while I love it there is no way it will be a good job with a family. I take call once a month and the hours are not predictable. I agree that if the working world were to give more flexibility there would be more productivity. I am not againist working moms, but I just feel God leading me to be a stay at home mommy. Blessings to you and your family, Ashley in Texas

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  75. I'm at 21 year old college student and obviously have no experience with work and children, but since I've started taking women studies class I've been more and more passionate about changing the conditions for working mothers. When did time become the standard of our work performance? Do results mean nothing?

    I was so happy to read this post and realize that working mothers out there somewhere are taking a stand for what they want and deserve in a job. Thank you for that.

    I'm writing a blog for my women's studies class in order to connect what I'm learning in the classroom to real life experiences. If you have time I would really appreciate any comments you have on what I've been writing!

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  76. I think that more parents should demand this type of flexibility, so we don't hear the typical line of if one gets it everyone will want it. More employers need to get with the program and let people manage their own time. They'd be amazed at how many employees would work harder for them, but they're so caught up in control that they're afraid to let go.

    I really hope it works out for you & that you are able to take the new job & get what you need.

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  77. Dang. I miss your now deleted post. But I think my gut feeling is right. Yay!

    Can I just tell you that I am in the EXACT same mental gymnastics over the EXACT same situation. Work with amazing pay and bennies? Or stay home with the kids? The big difference is that I hate my job and it's a means to an end. I could quit, but then I'd be trading one stress (missing my children) for another (being flat out butt broke and partially living on savings). I haven't figured out which stress I can deal with better...so I'm still in a quandry. I did just find out my position will be gone 1st quarter next year, so maybe I should wait it out? They want to move my "headcount" to another department and are offering me the job there, but I don't think it's something I want to do.

    Gah. Back and forth, back and forth. This is driving me nuts. LOL!

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  78. You are so courageous! How great not to back down, and to keep saying what it was you were saying (rather than what he was hearing!) !!
    I hope this works out for you in a way that everyone is happy, but most of all you and your family.

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  79. ::standing::clapping::whistling::

    Hoping. :)

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