Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Work/life balance

So, I’ve been really thinking a lot about this issue of work/life balance, and I really don’t know how high-powered moms do it. I know that’s a cliché, but really: How do they do it? Do they not sleep? Because god knows I need my sleep! Do they never see their kids? Do their husbands pick up the slack at home? I literally can’t wrap my mind around how this is all going to work, and it’s scaring me because, if I can’t find an answer, I don’t see how I can take this new position.

Essentially, the new position would routinely require 11-14 hour days away from home. (My job now requires that much, but I have more flexibility about where I do a lot of the work.) Sure, the vacations would be better—I’d get just over 7 weeks off each year—but 12 hour days. That leaves only another 12 hours for everything else: sleeping, eating, hubby, kids, dog.* That’s crazy, isn’t it? How would I manage it? I mean, I know people do it, but how?

And, now that we’ve been struggling with IF, would I just feel unbelievably guilty all the time? Like, oh, we worked oh-so-hard to have kids, then I desert them for 48% of our waking hours?** How can I justify it?

But, on the other hand, how can I not do it? I’ve worked so hard for so long, and I know what getting off the treadmill means. It means that my career will suffer, forever really. Yes, yes, I know we’ve made all kinds of feminist strides, bla, bla, bla. But, I’m a realist. I know what it means to slow your career down for family. It means—to just about all employers—that you made a choice to prioritize family over career. And, while they “admire” your choice, it means that you’re no longer the one they look to for promotions, big decisions, senior leadership, etc. It’s the dirty little secret that I feel like we all sweep under the rug because we don’t know what to do about it. There just doesn’t seem to be any solution. At the top, when you’re working 60-80 hours per week, you have to pick something that gets the short end of the stick. There just aren’t enough hours in the day/week.

So, am I really prepared for the family consequences of choosing career?

But, on the other hand, am I prepared for the career consequences of choosing family? I mean, I know I’ll work either way, but will my Type-A ass really be content watching other people get promoted over me and watching my career stagnate…even for a while?

Argh! How are we supposed to make these choices?!

* assuming we can ever actually have kids…
**and that’s assuming I only sleep 6 hours every night. (Yes, I did the math. I'm a geek.)


theoneliner said...

it just ate my post!!

its a tough and personal decision....

but i say make a decision based on your life right now. children will change everything including your job preferences. and you'll make it work.

Susan said...

I agree with theoneliner. You gotta do what works for you in this moment and know that it will all work out-- you'll make sure it does.
But, really, what the hell do I know? These questions are so difficult...

Sticky Bun said...

Thanks ladies! I really appreciate it!

I know you guys are right--and I think it's what I'll do. But, wow is this ever more complicated than I thought it would be when I was pondering it the abstract before I started all of this, you know?

Remember when life seemed complicated at 16? :-)