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Mom or Manager?

Photograph by Getty Images

In three-and-half years, I have survived seven bosses. I even managed to get a couple of promotions. Now, I am on boss number eight and I am questioning everything. Recently, he pulled me into a meeting and explained that my schedule—and the schedules of everyone in my company—were changing.

Previously, our hours were relatively flexible. I needed to work 40-50 hours per week to manage my staff and be on top of my sales. How I chose to accomplish those hours were at my discretion. Not anymore. Boss #8 wants me to work from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. four days a week, and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. And, whenever needed, during critical times of the month.

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During this meeting, I tried to stay composed. All of our kids have sports on Saturdays. Their weeknight bedtime is 8:30 p.m. I immediately pictured my son wanting me to cook his favorite dinners: homemade macaroni and cheese, broccoli, and turkey meatballs. I thought about my bonus daughters whom I only get to see a few days a week.

Because I was raised in a chaotic family, boring routines are fantastic to me now. I live for those moments when I am cleaning lint out of the dryer and a kid comes to me for leadership or love. With the new proposed work schedule, I will have less and less of these opportunities.

I told him that I respected the needs of the company, but long term, it may not work for me.

I wondered if there was any possibility for flexibility down the line. I asked Boss #8, "What about doctors' appointments and track meets?" He answered, "Those are one-offs. We'll accommodate." Did this very nice man just call my children and all of their needs "one-offs"? One of the only things I know for certain and forever is that I am a mom.

I told him that I respected the needs of the company, but long term, it may not work for me. He asked me what I meant by long term. I explained, "I have four kids and I live 45 minutes away." His face fell in compassion or frustration.

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Since the big chat, the company has slowed on implementing the rigid schedule. Perhaps the blowback was not worth it. Or, maybe they are working on a schedule that will be even worse. Fortunately, my boyfriend just secured a new position which—if all goes well—gives me and our family wiggle room.

I actually enjoy my job, but I may have to wiggle on out of it. Climbing the corporate ladder in my current company is not worth missing too many moments. My career may be lateral for a few years while I parent my ass off. I am mostly okay with that because I am a mom before I am a manager.

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