Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Working 9 to 5

Or 8 to 4, in my case. Lately I’ve been thinking about my job and the work I do and why I’ve chosen this path versus another more exciting or perhaps lucrative career. Part of this was inspired by Pseudostoops’ pondering about her recent job change and what it has meant for her and her family and the other part because our recent childcare woes caused us to really dig deep down and evaluate the importance of me working.

When you’re young and inexperienced you look for a job that pays the bills, allows you to have fun on the side and perhaps one that has the potential to grow into a more stable career over time. I started with my company in 2004 when I was just 22 years old. It was a young trust company that needed an administrative assistant and I was less than a year out of college without any real idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I was organized, detail-oriented and fit the job description if a little over-qualified with a business degree from a respected university. However I was living in the big city and needed a job to pay rent and put money in the bank. Those martinis weren’t paying for themselves and most of the 22 year old guys we were hanging out with rarely understood the importance of buying a woman a drink (I hope they’ve since seen the light).

From 2004-2006, I saw my company through a quick growth period and myself move from an administrative assistant to a trust associate responsible (with a mentor) for the administration of client accounts. But it was still just a job. By this time I had met Tim and was planning our wedding during most of my work days while zooming through my usual work load. Priorities, you know. I invited my entire office at the time, all 8 of them, to our wedding and one still talks about the delicious lamb chops we served as an appetizer. He’s one of my favorites.

From 2006-2008, my company saw me through newlywed-ville, buying our first house and then pregnancy. They ooooohed and aaahhhhed over my growing belly, threw me a wonderful baby shower, and understood when I said I wanted to stay home and raise my baby. They were sad to see me go and told me to come back and visit with the baby any time. They meant it and I did. I spent two years at home with Noah and those are some of the best years of my life. But then we all know what happened in 2008…the economy tanked and my poor husband spent the next three years struggling to make his technology business successful while I worried and fretted and blogged (go ahead, go back and see how much better I was at posting often. As you do when you have one cute baby and nothing else to do with your time.)

By June of 2010 I knew it was time for me to go back to work; partly because I missed working but mostly out of necessity for a steady paycheck and cheaper health insurance. Going back was a one of the most difficult and adult decisions I (we) have ever made. I knew what I was giving up: time with my son, time watching him grow and learn and turn into a little boy. It broke my heart but we found him a wonderful preschool center that, to this day, has cared for him better than anyone else. He’s thrived there and I am eternally grateful to them for making our lives as dual working parents easier.

When I approached my former boss for a recommendation or referral during my job search he offered me my job back on the spot. I was flabbergasted and very flattered. I accepted, asked for more money (as you do) and started within the month. I’ve been back ever since. Over the past two years I’ve earned myself a decent raise, a promotion and the support of management to keep growing in my role with the hope that I can one day be sitting in their cushy seats. The trust business is a dry, ancient business built on the law and tax code. It’s not (usually) exciting or all that thrilling. We don’t reinvent the law, we don’t hop on the latest technology bandwagon, we don’t have break rooms with ping pong tables or on-site laundry or Google-caliber guest speakers. But what I have recently come to find is that we do have good values. You see, I work for a company that values family above all else. When I needed it the most, my company pulled through for me and has supported me tremendously.

We recently had to pull Chloe from her daycare due to concerns about her safety and well-being (and that is saying it VERY nicely). It’s been a really terrible experience and one I do not wish to ever relive. All that matters is that she’s fine, we’re fine, and we’ll be fine at the end of this disaster. Through this entire experience my company has supported me. They have allowed me (PAID!) time off to be with my daughter, with my family. They didn’t expect me to be available by email or phone. They left me alone. I needed that time and I appreciate it immensely. We now have a better care plan in place for our kids. We can move forward without worrying about how we’re going to pay the bills or where my standing is having missed weeks of work.

When I sit back and think about changing jobs or what my company lacks in the 2012 marketplace (hello gourmet lunches and chair massages) I remind myself about what we do have. We have people that pull strings to make sure their employees are taken care of. We have people who send kind notes of encouragement when others have hit rough spots. We have people who understand that family comes first no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. I don’t need all those perks that some companies throw at their employees to keep them happy. I don’t need a company that is innovating and revolutionizing. I don’t need ridiculous bonuses earned for working equally ridiculous hours. I just need the understanding that I am first a mother and second an employee. They get that so they get me…hopefully for the long run. I know I’m lucky to have landed here and I appreciate that they appreciate me. 

What about you? Are you happy with your job? (and hey SAHMS! this includes YOU...taking care of your kids is one of the hardest jobs out there) What do you do (if you can share)?


Lisa Ng said...

Sry to hear about your daughter having to leave daycare. Whatever it was, it musta been serious! Anyways, great post on your past and current employer. They sound amazing and so understanding, which I think is the most important for me too. I have a great boss who allows me to take off when daycare calls or when J's sick. We are all chill here too so I don't feel bad leaving early or coming in late. I've only been here for 1.5 yr but I feel like I'm part of the family and look forward to many years here. Hope you all get back into the groove of things with lil Chloe!

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Lovely post. I bet writing about it helps give perspective, closure and a good feeling about where you were and where you are now. We very much see eye to eye regarding the kinds of companies we work for, what we expect from them and what they expect from us. We're a pretty lucky lot, that's for sure!

Maggie said...

That is AMAZING. I might have cried a tiny bit.

I think part of me not wanting to go back to work is that I can't believe a workplace like yours exists. I look at what my husband's job requires of him and I'm just NOT INTERESTED in a career. Sometimes I really wish for a little extra money, but any money I made would pay for childcare and there'd probably be nothing left over so... yeah. I'm quite happy where I am for NOW, but I do wonder what I'll do when these kids aren't home all day long.

And seriously, I am so happy you have that kind of workplace on your side.

Erica said...

Places like that are few and far between, I have never worked at one. So sorry about the junk daycare. What the hell? Ugh!
I am happy now, not working for the first time. We'll see how it pans out. I think being a SAHM is totes easier than being a working mom. Please don't kill me other SAHMmies!

Elizabeth said...

Uh, that part about the daycare gave ME hives,it sounds super stressful. I'm so sorry you guys had to deal with that. Hang in there lady.

Michelle said...

Sorry to hear about the daycare issues. Nothing makes me more tense than dealing with daycare.

I actually really like where I work. I like what I do. The company has invested in me and has been flexible. My boss is awesome. That being said, I'm looking for a new job because the one I have now isn't where we want to raise our family. I've been honest about it to my bosses and they have been very supportive. We've considered trying to make it work where the husband works in one city, I work in another and we live somewhere in between. It isn't ideal but it could be a possibility. I don't know. We are in limbo right now.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

I loved this post - frankly, it made me a little teary to imagine a company that would be so devoted to its employees. I hope my husband and I can be that lucky someday.