Happy Days Are Here Again
Putting family first doesn't mean you can't have a career you love.
A few months ago, I wrote this column about my new job in Boston and the feedback was heartwarming. The return to Corporate America after three years in a flexible, home office sales position had me nervous about the adjustment. I got more emails and comments than I ever have, probably because my story had struck a nerve with so many working parents who experience the juggle on a daily basis.
Since the end of October, I’ve struggled with my decision. The hours were long, I never felt comfortable in that corporate culture and fought back tears every week. I wasn’t eating or sleeping and worst of all, I felt like an absentee mother and wife.
Although I kept telling myself that I had to stick it out for at least a year, I missed my family and started to fear that I just couldn’t do it. I decided to throw a Hail Mary pass.
Thanks to an insane amount of luck, it was caught.
I have had the good fortune to return to advertising sales – a job I’m good at, a job I love, and one that allows me work full-time and still feel like a good mother.
I’m working for great women who are smart and successful, and representing really fun magazines like Entertainment Weekly and Elle Décor. I am back in my home office and although it’s a lot of work, it’s fun work and it’s something I know I can do.
In other words, I’ve got my mojo back.
I was concerned about what a quick jump in jobs would say about me. You see, I was brought up being taught that you finish what you start, no matter how much you may not want to. My parents had always insisted that if you make a commitment, you stick with it; you have a responsibility and when others are counting on you, you have to make good on that.
However, it became clear to me by two months into the new job that I had it backward. While I kept telling myself that I had a responsibility to the bank, it was the four at home that I should have been most concerned with.
My first priority was my family, and if I hardly saw them during the week and was constantly stressed out on the weekends then “my responsibility” was to figure out a way to take care of them.
I had a long talk with Ben and Georgia about how I would be starting a new job where I would have a home office working for magazines like I used to. They were so happy, as they told me that they had missed me when I was in Boston. I explained to them that it’s O.K. to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Although the job in Boston was what I thought would be the best decision for us, I realized that I had been wrong and so I figured out a solution. I don’t know if they understood anything more than “we’ll actually get to see Mommy again,” but I knew it was worth talking about. Even if it was for my own benefit.
And so, I’m back. This Tireless Mom is no less tired or busy, but I feel like I’m in control of things again.
If I have learned anything during this experience, it’s that you don’t have to pick between family and career; it is absolutely possible to balance the two and do a great job at both. When you’re happy in one, there’s a good chance you’ll be successful at the other.