Mom Versus Career

Finding the balance between being a competent decision-maker, a desirable spouse, and a kick-ass mom.

Family First September 20, 2011

About two weeks ago, I posted this on my Facebook/Twitter accounts:

“Never second-guess yourself when it comes to making your family your first priority.”

I decided to literally and figuratively take a step back. I gave up my title in favor of putting my family first and doing more of what I enjoy doing at work: writing and editing. This was not an easy decision and it was completely contrary to my second post (“There’s Gotta Be Somethin’ More”).

No, it’s not the ideal solution, but it’s the best option given my current situation. Will it be a difficult transition? Likely. Will it cause my peers to view me in a different light? Also, likely. Do I care what they think? Not as much as I care about my family and doing what’s right for us.

For a long time I was struggling with trying to be a Super Mom: the one who can do it all and still has time to make a home-cooked meal every night of the week. Yeah, she doesn’t exist; at least not in my world. I have nothing but complete respect and admiration for those mothers who can do the things I want to do. Please share your secrets with me!

Someone asked me: “Who says you have to pursue your career while your daughter is still young? She’ll be in school for 12 more years. You’ll likely be working for at least another 20 years after she graduates from high school. Plenty of time to pursue your career.”

That may sound like a cop-out to some, but no one had ever presented me with that option. You would think I would have come to that conclusion on my own since my mom did that very thing. But I couldn’t see past my desire to succeed as a career professional, a great mom and an amazing wife.

I don’t need to sacrifice any of those roles, but I need to put them in perspective and assign them appropriate priority. So I did.

This decision did not come easily. I weighed the pros and cons in my life as well as the effect it would have on my team. Overall, I think the solution presented will provide all of us with greater flexibility and a chance to truly work as a team. At least, that is my hope.

A weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I look forward to doing more of what I love and to fostering better relationships with my family and my coworkers. It’s a new day. 🙂

 

Meltdown August 30, 2011

My daughter had a meltdown during her violin lesson last week. She was done. Several days without any naps had finally caught up with her and she had reached her breaking point when her violin lesson seemed too difficult.

I wanted to cry right along with her. I had also reached my breaking point, something that seems to be occurring more often lately.

Lia was able to sleep off her stress. She went to bed as soon as we arrived home from her violin lesson and slept straight through the night. Poor thing. I know what that kind of exhaustion feels like. Thankfully, she woke up the next morning in a great mood.

Sometimes all we need is a little rest, some diversion to take our minds off of the things that cause the most stress in our lives. Rest is what Lia needed. I’m not sure what I need.

Writing tends to be the best form of stress relief for me, but I don’t do it nearly as often as I should. Writing helps me view any situation from different angles and forces me to ask myself, “How would others respond in the same situation?”

I don’t always come up with the right answer. I try to  ignore the answers I don’t like, even when I know they are right. I’m not perfect. There are days when I just want to have a meltdown and cry until I’m too exhausted to cry any more. And that’s ok. I’m allowed to feel that way… for a short while. I can’t allow myself to wallow in it, though. Even though Lia was done that day, she is excited to go to her violin lesson again.

I know my life isn’t perfect. Whose life is? But it won’t be better if I don’t live it and practice it every day.

Sometimes a meltdown is necessary if only to release the mounting stress. Sometimes you just need to drown your sorrows by sleeping the day away, eating a pint of ice cream all by yourself, or writing it out. It’s therapeutic.

Here’s to another stress-relieving ‘therapy’ session. 🙂

 

Americans NEED Vacation – Darren Hardy says so. August 25, 2011

Filed under: Career,Life — MomVersusCareer @ 4:45 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A friend of mine who actually reads my blog, not my mom (no offense, Mom :)), sent this link to me today. It relates to my post about how long it takes to get to Friday.

I have another post in mind that is similarly related. 🙂

Enjoy!

Your Competitive Advantage: Rest

 

Being the ‘Loud and Obnoxious’ Person and Not Knowing It August 24, 2011

So, I think I’m ‘that girl.’ The one who is loud and obnoxious. I noticed this during a meeting yesterday. I laughed a lot and loudly. My voice raised in volume while I was telling a story. I over-exaggerated with my inflection.

The weird thing is that I don’t do that all the time. It’s usually only when I feel comfortable with certain groups of people. I guess that’s good, but I wonder how those groups of people view me when I am loud and obnoxious?

I’ve never asked anyone. I just had this mini-revelation yesterday, so I haven’t had a chance to take a survey. Up to this point, it’s not something I’ve been able to control. It comes out naturally in certain settings. Maybe I should be thankful that I feel so comfortable with certain people. However, I wonder if sometimes I go too far.

Thankfully, I had a receptive audience yesterday, so I don’t think I offended anyone. 🙂

Do you ever get the sneaky suspicion that you’re the loud, obnoxious person in the room? Are you ok with that, or do you wish you could control it more?

 

345,600 Seconds August 22, 2011

Filed under: Career — MomVersusCareer @ 12:41 pm
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Have you ever noticed how long it takes for Friday to finally arrive? It takes four days to get from Monday to Friday. Broken down incrementally, that’s 96 hours or 5,760 minutes or 345,600 seconds.

At my current place of employment, there is a specific conversation that occurs every Friday morning without fail. It goes something like this:

Employee #1 enters elevator, smiles and says: “It’s finally Friday!”

Employee #2: “No kidding!”

Employee #1: “It’s been a really long week. I can’t wait to get home and _____ (fill in the blank).”

Employee #2: “Yeah, Monday just seemed to drag, didn’t it?”

Employee #1: “I know what you mean. Only eight more hours and we’re free!

As the elevator reaches its destination, Employee #2 says: “Thank goodness! Have a good weekend!”

This conversation has many variations, but you get the point. It fascinates me because without fail, it has always and will always take exactly four days or 96 hours or 5,760 minutes or 345,600 seconds to get from Monday to Friday. Unless it’s a leap year, then I think we have some justification in saying it’s been a “long week.”

Why do we think the week is longer than it actually is? Why do we eagerly anticipate Friday’s arrival at the end of the week?

Wouldn’t it be great if instead of waiting impatiently to punch the time clock at 5 p.m. on Fridays, we were disappointed to leave? What would that company look like? What kind of jobs would it offer? What kind of people would work there?

I’ll have to ponder that myself, but if I ever work at a company where I’m actually disappointed to leave at 5 p.m. on a Friday, I’ll stay there until I retire!

 

Thinking You’re More Important Than Your Job Title August 4, 2011

Filed under: Career — MomVersusCareer @ 5:05 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Does your job title matter to you? Do you think it matters to other people?

Does having an important-sounding job title make you better at performing your job?

My answers are Kind of, Yes, and No.

I won’t lie. Having ‘manager’ in my job title is nice. It gives me a sense of pride that I have achieved such a title. I think everyone should be proud of his or her job. However, for me, the most important part of my title pertains to what I do as a manager, not the fact that I am a manager.

What bothers me is when people let their job titles define who they are, as if being a vice president gives a person super powers and superior knowledge. It’s like proclaiming you’re a superhero, only in your own mind. I am Vice President of Crisp White Button-Down Shirts and Bad Ties! Bow before my awesomeness! Not to diminish the responsibilities and knowledge that typically accompany such titles. Those jobs are hard and require extensive knowledge and competency to perform them well.

But let’s be real for a minute. If you have a title that implies some amount of authority, don’t abuse it. Don’t wear that title like it’s the WWE Championship Belt. Chances are you had to wrestle some opponents and work your way up to that title, but if you did it only for the sake of having the title rather than proving your worth as an employee, you’ve missed the point. However, if you have actually won a WWE Championship Belt, kudos to you. You have my permission to wear that belt anywhere you want. (Mostly because I don’t want to get beat up, but it’s also pretty cool.)

Please note, I am writing this post as reminder for myself as much as anyone else in a position of some authority. I don’t have much authority, but I’d rather not have my team members envision body-slamming me in a WWE match because I became a power-hungry jerk.

Fellow employees-with-a-smidge-of-authority-or-more, remember that the people who report to you are, well, people, not slaves. They are not there to pick up your dry-cleaning, feed your dog, or pick up your mail while you’re out of town. They are part of your TEAM. And as team members, our jobs are to lead, not to dictate.

Please ask nicely. Don’t demand. It’s rude. 🙂

 

What’s Next? August 1, 2011

On Saturday, I was riding the wave of an emotional high; filled with energy and motivation to throw myself into pursuing my dream of being a writer. That day, my friend Kiki and I attended the first ever Quitter Conference based on Jon Acuff’s book, Quitter. The conference was everything I expected and more!

It was entertaining, educational, motivational and totally worth the trip to Nashville. If another Quitter Conference is scheduled in the future, go!

So where do I go from here?

Now that the emotional high is gone, how do I stay motivated to complete the tasks I set for myself during the conference? How do I go back to my day job without feeling resentful and bitter? I can feel the Sunday Jerk syndrome creeping in (Read Quitter to find out what a Sunday Jerk is). I can hear the Doubty Voices in my head saying, “You’re not good enough, Erica. There will always be someone who is more talented than you are. Sure, it’s a nice idea to be a writer, but you’ll never follow through, so why start?” Ouch, right?

It would be painful if someone actually said those words to me. Instead of taking that risk and putting myself out there, I hide behind my self-derision. I try to rationalize the statement above as being reasonable. It isn’t!

My first step toward battling my own doubt was to get up 30 minutes earlier this morning and write. Just write. Even though the Doubty Voices tried to convince me to sleep just a few more minutes. Jon Acuff made an excellent point during the conference. He said if your dream isn’t something for which you’re willing to wake up half an hour earlier, then it’s probably not your dream.

While I wasn’t waking up early, I was trying to find time throughout the day to write, but I never seemed to have enough time to focus on writing on a daily basis due to little things like work and surfing the internet. You know, the important stuff.

The second step was to do something Jon calls a ‘time audit’ to figure out how busy I really am. Just going through my daily schedule mentally was an eye-opener. Being a working mom and wife doesn’t allow for much time in the schedule to write, but I can eliminate some things that are not necessary or worth my time, which is precious and should be used wisely.

There are several other steps I’ll be working through during the next few weeks and months to focus on writing. I’m confident I can do it. I just need to keep telling those Doubty Voices to ‘Shut Up!’ and keep going. Keep doing what I love. It’s the only way my dream will happen.

Thanks for supporting me! Please keep me accountable by asking me how it’s going, especially those of you who attended Quitter with me. We need to stick together!

How do you combat the Doubty Voices in your
life?

 

 
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