My first post ever on BBSP was about the joys of telecommuting. In the year and change since I started this job (and this blog), I've waxed and waned in my feelings on the topic. There are a lot of pros in my current work situation–for one, no one's looking over my shoulder in the middle of the day to see what's on my computer (quick, minimize the bloglines account!). For another, I'm a few blocks away from the Bee's school, and if I need to take off in the middle of the afternoon for a parent-teacher conference, my boss isn't shooting me dirty looks.
On the other hand, I don't really have borders where my life begins and work ends. If I'm sitting on the couch surfing blogs in the evening, I'm also responding to whatever email comes in. If I don't have a real office phone number, just a cell phone, then I'm always on call–nights, weekends, whatever. I have made it clear to people that I work with that there are certain times that I'm just not going to answer the phone (during dinner, at bedtime, etc.), but they know if they call me at 9 or later, I'll probably pick up. And the thing about not having people to have lunch with really does bug me. I'm a social creature. I want to socialize. And in my current work situation, the major opportunities for socializing that do happen are ones that happen while I'm on the road–so to get social interactions going, I have to be away from my kids.
I've been weighing the pros and cons of telecommuting again recently, because I'm being recruited for a new job in a much different organization. A job where I would be working at an office again, where I would be able to go to meetings, instead of just endlessly sitting on conference calls. (Did I ever think I would miss meetings? No I did not. Again, social creature. Want to socialize.)
So now that I'm confronted with the possibility of no longer being a telecommuter, I'm weighing the options pretty seriously. There are times when I think I'm crazy to think of giving up the flexibility that I have now. Then there are the times that I think I'd be crazy not to take this other job, and stop having to be on the road so much. Then there's the third part of me, that realizes how much privilege I have in even making this decisions–I don't work in a hospital, or a school, I don't do any kind of shift work that would make me stay in the same place for 8 hours a day, with no ability to leave for any kid-related thing. Either way I end up, I'll have a fair measure of control over my own schedule, and an understanding boss who will let me do what my family needs me to do.
Elizabeth at Half-Changed World has been doing a great series of posts this week on the expectations of the middle class, and how that plays into the mommy wars. It's been making me think a lot about how my telecommuting has played out for me in both my parenting, and in being an active parent at the Bee's school. It's also made me think about how our changing work situation (that's our as in mine and landisdad's, not our as in our society's) has affected the Bee's ability to participate in after-school activities. Overall, even with my added occasional presence at the school, I think it's had a net negative impact. With landisdad's new job, he's working two nights a week every week, and it's not uncommon for me to work late once or twice. What that's meant for her is that we can't sign her up for baseball or art lessons that require someone to pick her up and transport her somewhere after school. And the fact that we're doing so much single parenting means that it's difficult for us to commit to taking her places after dinner, unless those are places we can also take the Potato.
I'm glossing over, of course, a variety of other pros and cons of changing jobs–the ones that deal with money and substance. But I keep coming back to the pros and cons for my family, and that's pretty new for me. This isn't the first time I've changed jobs since I've been a parent, but for some reason, the family issues are weighing more heavily on me than ever before. I can't decide if it's because I'm afraid of change, or longing for it.