confusion

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.

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April 4, 2006. random other things.

9 Comments

  1. Lena replied:

    You have perfectly captured what all of us work from home moms feel. Torn torn torn. Social vs. Nurture. The bottom line is if it won’t be hurting your kids, try it out. That’s the only way you can truly be sure.

    I do wonder though about the chaos that the mornings would bring rather than the ease we have now. Although I MISS my social network at work (why is it so much easier to make friends with co-workers?) I wonder if I just shouldn’t make more of an effort in my work from home environment (clubs, church, neighbors, etc) until my daughter is old enough to be in school F/T and my absence won’t be noticed.

    Decisions…dance like fairy plums. 😉

  2. Ms Sisyphus replied:

    Maybe it’s because you’ve grown into your family?

    I know that as Diva Girl has grown and her fit in the family has become less pliable, the way I make decisions that will affect our family has changed.

  3. chichimama replied:

    It sounds like you are thinking things through carefully and will be making the right decision. I’ve been debating starting up work again, but it would have to be from home and the biggest drawback is the social stuff (or lack thereof).

    Good luck!!!

  4. Suzanne replied:

    This is a tough decision — one of the reasons I chose to switch from full-time office work to freelancing is the very flexibility you mention. I’m grateful to have a profession that allows such an opportunity; it does make our family life much smoother. I do, however, miss the socialization of office life. It’s pretty isolating at home.

  5. jackie replied:

    Adjunct teaching is very lonely and isolating as well– i talk to my students, but we’re not colleagues, you know? When I think about full-time work, i really long to be part of a community based around shared work– but i also will really miss the community i’ve managed to build as a mom who’s home during the day.

    career decisions are so complicated and difficult. wishing you luck.

  6. Jennifer replied:

    I work from home too, but only two days a week. Because it’s so few hours, I don’t attend ANY meetings. I too find myself surprised by how much I miss them! Also missing the meetings puts me firmly out of the loop — I react to the projects I’m given, rather than proactively helping set direction.

    A full-time position will open up soon at the office, one that will allow me to telecommute but require about 2 days of travel a month. When I think about taking that job, I start to feel pinched & figure the only way I could survive it is if my husband switched to a part-time job! I just can’t imagine both of us working full time & still having any kind of satisfying life.

    Regarding your decision … don’t forget that the Potato is growing up, too. What you decide will affect how involved you can be with him — when he’s ready to be involved in things. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take it — just that he’s part of the equation as well.

  7. Jennifer replied:

    Oh I was also going to say: because I only work two days, I don’t miss the social interaction of work because I have other SAHMs and part-timers in the neighborhood to hang with. If I telecommuted fulltime that would be different, I think.

  8. Anjali replied:

    Thanks for such an honest post about a perplexing issue. I’m always trying to figure out where the grass is greener.

  9. Leggy replied:

    Am late to the party, but am curious what you decided. I think the reason its harder to make a decision is that its more complicated as kids get older, not less. When kids are babies, they can be in the same child care situation all day/every day. When they get to school, you have to juggle school, an after-school program, school vacations, holidays, extra-curriculars. I think sometimes about when I can get back to a “real job” but honestly, I don’t see it happening any time soon as things will only get more complex once the Cutie Pie starts kindergarten next year.

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