And Another Thing

(This is a continuation of my replies to @mindymin from yesterday’s post. I think she makes valid arguments, and I completely understand her POV, even though I don’t share it. Also, I don’t think this is a matter of taking sides — I think it’s a matter of recognizing that workplaces can’t be one size fits all any longer. IMO, anyway.

Of course, my mother would probably point out about now that I should have become a pharmacist.)

Let’s also recognize that in the face of high unemployment numbers and a poor economy in general, the American workplace is even less likely to feel the need to change to accommodate any workers, let alone parents. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to fight for optimal working conditions for everyone, or ask for more options. If they feel they can screw you, they’re going to screw you. People are accepting lower wages, fewer benefits, higher health care insurance costs, and so on, because the thinking is: “Well, at least I’m working” or “At least I’ll be working again.”

This is a major story line on Parenthood, the NBC show, right now. A once-senior executive of a shoe company is thinking of taking a job driving a truck to deliver beverages just so 1) he is working and 2) he can appear to be providing for his family again. But at a significantly reduced wage and with a job that takes him away from his family, what is he really gaining?

Slate examined this too, what people — the long-term unemployed, specifically — are doing to get back to work. I don’t think this article was critical enough. They simply reported what strategies people adopted to get back to work. They don’t ask, “Is it [the particular strategy] worth it?” I think that should be examined also.

These are hard questions. It’s a hard economy right now. Losing my job would be devastating in economic terms. Would my family adjust? Yes, we would. I think there are things that I could do, steps I could take, to get back to work in some fashion without making the current sacrifices I am making. But until I’m up against the wall, I will keep making the sacrifices I am making (a long commute, missing my children, etc.).

Also, from yesterday’s comments, what do you think about @FunkyDung’s point about SAHDs? They are fighting on a different front for some of the same respect that SAHMs have access to: community, acceptance as primary care givers, etc.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts. More below! Weigh in! Be nice. (Like I have to tell you that…)

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44 thoughts on “And Another Thing

  1. I’m entirely with you, RPM. It’s a peculiarly American “tradition” for companies to be so freakin’ inflexible with their workers, and over the past 20-30 years it’s evolved to the point where nearly *every* job comes with the usually unspoken caveat, “If we want you to be here, YOU WILL BE HERE.” Work-life balance is utterly ignored by American corporations, unlike European companies, who mysteriously manage to make very good profits even with mandated paid family leaves (for fathers AND mothers), six weeks’ vacation, etc.

    I feel much like you do: That I give so much energy to my job that I don’t have enough left to take care of or spend quality time with my family. Additionally, my bosses think I should be putting *more* into my job. My response is simply, I can’t; I’m tapped out. More than once they’ve backed me into a corner such that I’ve pulled all-nighters, only to have that extra effort invalidated because the schedule changed without anyone telling me. (Not trying to make this a waahmbulance story, just giving a typical anecdote from the contemporary workplace.)

    We as a nation are headed for a collective burnout/breakdown unless employers start lightening up. It’s not an issue of parents vs. non-parents; the issue is companies squeezing blood out of their employees and tossing them aside when there’s nothing left to squeeze.

  2. See, this is where a lot of my issues arise from, this whole exchange. Andplease realize I am only speaking for me and to no one in particular.

    For me work is work is work. Filing for unemployment is not an option no matter how long I have paid into it. There are jobs out there. And maybe those jobs dont pay the salary I have become accustomed to, but if there is work I will do it so I can take care of myself. Sitting on unemployment for years while you try to find a job that isnt “beneath” you and doesnt make you make any compromises in your life isnt reasonable. If we could sustain the economy that afforded all of those cushy and fabulous jobs we would be…I think it is abundantly clear that we cant. So for me taking a job driving a truck so I have money coming in that isnt from the state is the right decision every time. It is not anyones job but my own to take care of my family no matter the economy.

    Entitlement. This one concept is going to destroy the world. Who said you are entitled to a job that pays you well, gives you good benefits, allows you all the free time in the world that you want or need and still provide you a salary that you fell you deserve? Where is it written that employers have to bend their job expectations because you feel that you should be able to balance far too much in your world? When did it become your job’s fault that you have over extended yourself and totally lost your life balance? How can it be the job’s fault that you want to live in a nice house, own 2 nice cars, or do whatever it is that you do with your income so that you have to work a full time gig to be able to afford all your stuff? When did it stop being the responsibility of the individual to maintain that balance and make decisions to adjust that balance when things get wonky? In what book is it written that you can have everything you want when you want it how you want it and you should be able to bend others to your will to get it?

    I have never been told any of those things. I have never felt that it was on anyone but me to make myself happy and well adjusted. I take full responsibility for the misery I am stuck in and will be depending on no one but me to get myself out.

    I just dont think its completely fair to rip open employers and make it their fault that so many people have decided to focus on their work as opposed to their families. It feels like an excuse to me. I decide my priorities. I decide whats important in my world. Go ahead and tell me about money…but its not. Thats been my excuse for years. Know what? Money isnt going to give me back my sanity. Money isnt going to help me find that balance. Money isnt going to make my marriage happier. Adjusting my lifestyle to allow myself to make less money? That will totally go miles to solving all of those problems. But bottom line I had to take responsibility for my own unhappiness and be willing to do something about it and quit blaming my job for all of it. I choose to come here everyday therefor it is my fault.

    @Hassenpfeffer Yes. Europe is much diff than here and it starts with their culture. They work to live not live to work and there is a distinct difference. They also have many more socialized programs that alleviate a lot of the stressers that make it difficult for American parents to balance their lives and require both parents to work in order to be deemed a successful family, like health insurance, child care, etc. It would require a total cultural overhaul to make that happen here not to mention we would pay about double in taxes, if not more, which would cause a major upheaval, period. You cant compare the US to Europe, thats like comparing apple to buffalo.

    • Easy. Easy, @mindymin. I don’t think anyone is talking about being “entitled” to lavish lifestyles or work/life balance and if you are reading that into these posts… well, then we really are coming from very different POVs.

      My parents did not need two wage earners to have what they had (a house, two cars, Catholic schooling for us). My father did very well for our family in the 1970s. Eventually, my mother went back to work, also, but she didn’t have to in order to pay the bills. She wanted to resume her career as a pharmacist. “These days” if you will, it is much less about having careers, and much more about money and bills and health care. Should I have not had had children because I did not and was never going to have a six-figure salary? Should every woman have to face that choice? Or should we all just be happy with what we have and shut up? Because I will absolutely fight against that attitude. Without fail.

    • Having BEEN on unemployment, there’s no allure to “sitting on unemployment for years while you try to find a job that isn’t ‘beneath’ you.” Why? Because it doesn’t typically last for years and because it doesn’t pay much. It’s not enough to pay the bills – seriously, it’s not.

      But it’s not as simple as to say that those other jobs out there are “beneath” you. They might not be but they also might not provide the things you truly need – ie, enough money to cover your bare bones bills, health insurance, etc. If you go from making enough to cover your $1600/mo mortgage plus every other bill and then can’t find a job, McDonalds isn’t going to cut it. Also, for many people they can’t just sell that now-too-expensive house because the market isn’t what it used to be.

      It’s not black and white and people can’t plan for every single circumstance in their lives. So, yeah, I admit, I’m a little offended at your simplistic arguments about entitlement. It’s a little too close to “people don’t want to work for what they have.” That’s not true at all. People’s problems aren’t because they’re lazy or because they didn’t plan or that they expect everyone to kowtow to them. It’s so much more complex than that and boiling it down to “entitlement” issue is a convenient way of saying “it’s not my problem” and walking away.

      Perhaps we should just return to Dickensian England where people went to debtor’s prison and died in droves in the street.

  3. Slower day at work, can you tell πŸ™‚ And Im honestly not getting all worked up at all about this…its just something that has bugged me for a long time so I have lots of opinions and the time to share them today. My writing style is also aggressive…and I cant seem to tame that very well in this kind of format even when I try.

    Im wasnt talking about living lavishly or luxuriously at all, Im talking about living in whatever way we, as individuals, are accustomed to supporting ourselves. I know for me that I could def cut a bunch of non-essentials out of my monthly bills, really be no worse for wear and still survive, just not with as much fun as I do currently. Its my choice to maintain a lifestyle that requires me to have a job that pays better. I know that is MUCH harder to do with kids, but I know people that make far less than me with kids and make it work because they have to and because they dont want to have a job that requires them to choose it over their family. But again, thats their choice. All I was trying to convey is that we all make choices that about HOW we live that greatly effect how much we have to make and not wanting to compromise our lifestyles makes it necessary to sacrifice in other areas.

    And it is about entitlement. You, for example, feel entitled to be allowed to telecommute for your job because it would make things easier on your personal situation and you are actively seeking that as an option. I dont blame you at all and if I were in your situation I would prob do the same thing, but you still feel entitled to be able to have that as an option. Parents that work for big firms or companies feel entitled to ask for childcare for their kids to make their ability to get to work and stay there easier, parents with sick kids feel entitled to understanding and leniency when they cant come to work because their kids are sick and the list can go on and on. I am not saying its right or wrong to have those feelings of entitlement, but as a professional adult without kids it IS unfair. If I were to start calling out of work, PTO or UN-PTO time, I would loose my job; but if I were a parent and needed the time off to deal with things regarding my kid I would expect my employer to understand why I needed the time off and make the concession to allow me to keep my job – thereby re-solidifying the notion that your time, because you spend it taking care of a sick child, is more important or your excuse for absence more valid, than mine.

    It also brings the question to my mind how are non-parents compensated for the money they arent costing their employers if employment situations change and parents are able to get more flexibility. Will I be paid more because I dont need to telecommute and can be at my job daily and therefore more available, or if I dont have a child that needs a spot in their daycare center or do I get more PTO days? In a scenario designed to benefit working parents the fairness to non-parents also has to be considered.

    I get both sides of this situation. I can definitely see where you as a parent come from and can respect your desire to want to have a career that is fulfilling and pays the bills while also being able to maintain your family life – I just feel that is on you to sort that out for yourself and make the best decisions you can to make that happen for you. I firmly stand by my statement that if your ability to do the job you were hired to do has changed for any reason the problem isnt the job – it lies in your ability to fit into said job and perhaps you need to find one that will fit your life better. To expect the workplace to change because you are woman who wants to balance a career and family isnt a reasonable expectation. You mentioned yesterday about equal pay & rights for women in the workplace – a large part of that is the willingness to do the job and NOT expect to be given more freedoms or flexibility because you are a woman in the workplace. How can we, as a gender, demand equal pay and equal treatment while actively asking for concessions to be made to accommodate us? That seems counter-intuitive.

    I also dont think you can compare then and now. At all. Our parents also didnt pay a couple hundred a month in cell phone, cable, internet. Their car payments werent on $30G cars at $600 a month. The cost of our lives now is easily double what it was then…and it is that way because we want more and better toys and choices we make. If we want to be able to live the way our parents did then chop all that stuff out. Get rid of your cell plans, drop your cable & internet, get a stripped down car for next to nothing, etc and I bet you could come a lot closer to being able to live on 1 income as comfortably as they did.

    Things cant change and stay the same. We cant have all this new and awesome stuff and not have to work to afford it. We cant work full time without making certain sacrifices regarding our personal time and families…its just a matter of figuring out where you are willing to sacrifice and where you arent.

  4. A friend just sent this list of the best companies for working mothers: http://www.workingmother.com/node/116542/list. I see a lot consulting companies on here. As a former consultancy widow and friend of many consultants I can say my opinion of what is good for working parents is very different from this list. The consulting company for which my husband worked had a lot of good benefits. They offered 3 weeks of paid maternity (and paternity) leave. They sold breast pumps for 30% of the retail price (which, luckily for me extended to spouses). They were also very flexible about when and where work could be done. HOWEVER, everyone–mothers, dads and otherwise–were expected to work A LOT of hours. 12+ hour days were usual.

    In contrast, my employer is not on the list. We don’t have on-site childcare or paid maternity leave, but I prefer it to many of the places on the “best” list because I rarely work overtime meaning I have that time for my family. Related, my husband left consulting a few months ago. That involved a paycut and a lot less “benefits,” but he gets to come home on time and spend evenings with the family (and doing so doesn’t mean he’ll be up working until midnight after the kids go to sleep). Still, I know many consultant couples who use their extra money to have a daytime nanny and a nighttime nanny to cover their work schedules and are happy with that lifestyle.

    I don’t think we can count on companies to provide work-life balance because that balance is different for different people. We all have to try to find our own balance. In a tight economy that is more of a challenge, but if you aren’t happy don’t give up looking. In the meantime, take advantage of every minute you have to hug your kids.

  5. Mindymin, it must be great to have enough freedom to say “I’m going to work exactly as long as I need to make exactly enough money as I need to live exactly the kind of life I’ve chosen.” Like Cari said, we don’t all have that luxury. When you have a family, you don’t get to choose. I suppose if we’re going to join you in your little paradise, NO ONE should have kids. EVERYONE should hold out for EXACTLY the job that provides ideal work-life balance. Asking for anything else is succumbing to the dreaded “sense of entitlement.”

    By the way, what happens to you if, God forbid, you get truly sick? I mean, say you break your wrist and can’t work or drive. Say you get some communicable disease that keeps you out of your workplace for weeks on doctor’s orders. Will you be as free-markety then, with no income? ‘Cause I know you’re not going to feel “entitled” to disability payments and, because you believe in a strict quid pro quo, you’re going to want to pay the hospitals and doctors every cent of their inflated bills to you the second those bills arrive. Sure, you might to make some more ‘lifestyle adjustments’–like, oh, giving up food, or not paying the rent or utilities. You’re not entitled to eat or to have a roof over your head. The world isn’t fair, so you won’t make a peep of protest when you’re out on the street, starving, with a ton of debt, medical problems (quite possibly including unendurable pain), and the deep, burning need to pay off your medical expenses.

    As for “entitlement,” who’s crying out “save me” these days? The poor corporations. “Bail me out!” OK. “Give me tax breaks and subsidies!” Sure. “Don’t place unreasonable burdens like providing our employees with a safe workplace on us, or telling us that our product can’t harm consumers!” You got it.

    You’re right; comparing the US to Europe is comparing an uncivilized state to a civilized state. Maybe I should pack up my family and move to that civilized state. You’ll be happier here in your entitlement-free paradise, as long as things go exactly according to your plan.

    • Heh. Someone needs to calm down. Youre turning what started out as a fairly interesting discussion into personal attacks. What will that accomplish? Nothing. Just because my opinion and perspective differ from yours doesnt make it wrong, it just makes it different. I enjoy hearing other perspectives when it is delivered in a non-combative manner. Nothing is accomplished when you close your mind.

      I dont have that freedom and never said I did. I have a job that I work up to 60 hours a week salary. I get no OT pay, PTO, sick time, holiday pay or anything else. I get no maternity leave if ever I should need it, I work too much am perpetually stressed out and have very little balance in my life at all. Difference is I dont expect anyone but ME to fix that. Its not my job’s fault, my family’s fault or anyone elses. I made the decisions to get me here and if I want it to be different I need to make it so. The entitlement I am referencing has little to do with social programs that all people who work pay into and have the right to pull from when necessary, myself included. The entitlement I am talking about is of the “my job needs to change its expectations to accommodate my changing personal situation”. Those are totally different things and are completely unrelated – as is the comment about corporate bailouts – completely and utterly unrelated to this discussion.

      All you really did is re-solidify my point – I make concessions about my personal time and happiness because of the benefits afforded to me by my job that allow me to not have to worry about things like how to pay for medical care and be able to afford the things in life that are necessary as well as things I want and to have a wicked flexible schedule because that is what I want. I decide daily that those benefits are worth the things that make me less than thrilled about my job. And I do not expect my job to change to get rid of the things that I dont like, I accept them as part of the deal.

      If you think living in Europe is the answer then feel free to move, but in my experience they have as many issues, just of a different nature. I dont think we are more or less civilized than they are, we are just very different cultures driven by very different motivations. In a lot of ways they have it right, but I’m sure in just as many we do, too.

      Bottom line ~ relax. Conversations do not need to devolve into that kind of ranting – it accomplishes very little other than irrational arguments.

  6. As a married mom of two and HR professional, this conversation is really interesting; and I am going to add another dynamic. I have been working on a large international project for several months now and there is an opportunity for European travel coming up. I want to make the trip and have expressed as much to the ‘Powers’ here at work in a straight-forward busniness manner. I have been working extra hours, and have made myself constantly available to my international clients. However, I believe that part of my supervisor’s decision-making for who makes the trip has to do with our family status. It’s is unspoken…but I think the single unmarried guy is going to get this high-visibility business trip. And it’s all about perception: don’t send the mom of two…her family needs her.

    • Hmmm. That is interesting. And completely unfair. That is your decision to make and not theirs. Do you think that blatantly, although professionally, calling out your supervisor, like saying “I realize you may feel that my familial obligations will inhibit my ability to take this trip but I would like to say that is not the case….” would make a difference?

    • Very interesting, kjax. And somehow not surprising at all. It’s slightly more understandable to think that the “powers” may just automatically make that assumption, but since you’ve openly and directly made them aware of your interest, it’s more disheartening. But, [not attacking personally, just playing devil’s advocate!] are you sure that family status is a factor? Is unmarried guy out performing in more ways than not, etc.? Just a thought. (Again, not an attack!)

      Also, perhaps this goes deeper than “don’t sent the mom of two; her family needs her.” Maybe it’s an even more outdated thinking that the unmarried guy has more devotion to the job, more likelihood to stay at the company longer, more likelihood to go the extra mile for clients. I mean, I hope no one is thinking that – even subconsciously – but just wondering. I know that thinking sadly still exists with some of the “greatest generation.”

      • I really have thought about this and the only thing I can say is this other employee is more….charismatic. He is always visible and in the spotlight. I am a people-pleaser; dedicated, loyal, and a little quiet. But I am more senior, and knee-deep in this project while he has been peripheral to it. I am sure about that.

    • And isn’t it ironic that having a family can influence an employer’s decision in one way that seems unfair, but any favoritism to you in another way, could be seen as unfair. it’s a complete lose-lose.

      Except for the single guy who gets to go to Europe, maybe.

  7. I admire Mindy’s passion on this subject. Clearly this is something that she feels strongly about. I tend to agree with the basic sentiments of her argument, especially what she said in yesterday’s comments. Like @observacious, I think that Life Balance has to do with personal decisions. I chose to accept a lesser paying job because I don’t want to work 12 hours days, 7 days/week. I don’t want to worry about meeting my 2,200 billable hours/year requirement in order to keep my job. I want to help clients, learn to be better at my profession, make enough to get by, and hopefully have some fun along the way. To me, parents – or anyone – who takes a job which requires more of a commitment than they can make, need to make a change in their job situation. Before one even accepts a job, one ought to establish an understanding with one’s perspective employer, whereby expectations on both sides are clear and agreeable. If you take a job where the employer promises 37.5 hour weeks and you’re consistently putting in 50+, shame on the employer for lying. Or, perhaps, shame on you for needing 50+ hours to do what s/he believed that you are capable of doing in 37.5 hours.

    I think you are right, RPM, some employers really do expect too much from their employees. For instance, getting emails on my iPhone seemed to give my boss a sense that I worked 24 hours/day. But, I quickly nipped that in the butt. When I go on vacation, I give strict orders that I should not be contacted via email or phone for anything other than a VERY serious emergency. But, if I hadn’t said anything, I think the blame would just as rightly fall on me for letting the expectations evolve to a place that I don’t accept.

    That being said, I think it is a vast overstatement to claim that all employers are inflexible and unreasonable. My boss is perfectly flexible and reasonable, for me. I think work is no different than your love life. Not everyone is a perfect match. And sometimes you have to weed through the bad matches to find a good one. Perhaps the good one goes bad after awhile. Perhaps an even better one comes along that makes you realize the first one was not as good as you thought. Perhaps you change along the way (eg. have a baby) and find that you no longer match. Asking your employer to change on these seemingly major issues, is like asking your significant other to change their religion or diet or family planning. It’s not fair to anyone.

    • Well said, Pam. I totally agree πŸ™‚ My employer is also pretty flexible and thats another reason I am still here. Gotta take the good with the bad and if it doesnt fit move along.

      • M, you can’t just say “move along” in this economy. I think that’s very insensitive. You say, “the jobs are out there”, but I tend to agree with @cari on this one. What jobs, for whom, in what kind of situations?

        For example, I would make a lateral move to a position 10 minutes away from my house. I wouldn’t make a lateral move to a position 30 minutes or more away. I’m already in that position. Well, unless the money was crazy good. I would take a part time position if the fit was good. But I’m not going to be a barista working for tips. Not at 40! πŸ˜‰

    • I agree that not all employers are inflexible or unreasonable. I didn’t say anything like that in my post. And I agree about matches, changing needs, and the like. Let me ask you this — and this is purely hypothetical — Let’s say my employer DOES let some people work part time. Even, maybe people in my department, or people with similar duties to mine. People who perhaps had a new baby or a sick parent or the like. But then same employer/manager/supervisor/power-that-is says no to me. What recourse does that leave me? I’m truly curious to know what you would think about that.

      • Thats a whole diff issue in my mind. The employer is obligated to be consistent with ALL employees – if you allow one you have to be willing to allow all. I dont think there is a fair way for a department or individual to say what is or is not important enough to be able to go PT or telecommute, those kind of parameters must be clearly defined and not left as gray.

      • I don’t think that the employer is obligated. I think your job is yours and yours alone and it’s at the employers discretion to determine the hours that s/he requires of you in that position. Of course, that will lead to angry employees and nonproductiveness. But that’s why I think it’s generally a bad idea for an employer to make any exceptions for anyone. It’s safe to make everyone play by the same rules.

  8. I’d like to see society get back to a situation that financially allows one parent to stay home full-time to keep house and raise children, and in which full-time homemakers are not regarded as some relic of the middle ages (or somehow a threat to feminism).

    I think a lot of the problems highlighted by this fiery exchange come from either a need or desire to have two incomes per household. I don’t know what should be done to alleviate that need, if it is present. I don’t think socialized solutions are the answer, but I don’t want to turn this thread into a political debate, so I’ll stop there. If it is a desire to have incomes (and not a need), I believe it is a mistaken one.

    I believe balancing work and family is difficult for a reason – it’s not meant to be a problem. As a man’s who spend the better part of a year (not all contiguous, mind you) as a SAHD, I don’t have a problem with men staying home while women bring home the bacon. I just think *someone* should be home with the kids full-time. I believe it’s healthier for the whole family.

    Right now my family is in a really craptacular position that is putting massive amounts of stress on us all. I’m a grad student whose PhD has taken way too freaking long, and now I’m unfunded. Meanwhile, my wife is a lab technician who barely earns more than I did as a funded grad researcher. That means M-H 8AM-4PM, I’m home with three kids under four. That alone would be reasonable enough, but from about 8PM-4AM, I’m working on my dissertation research. Fridays are a little better, since the boys are in day care and I only have to worry about watching Lily before, during, and my weekly meeting with my advisor. That’s not much of a respite, though. I don’t work all day Saturday and Sunday, but I do work. I’m thoroughly exhausted, which makes me a far angrier father than I want to be. My wife’s not doing much better.

    Why did I just rant about all that? Frankly, I don’t remember anymore. Perhaps I just needed to vent, and this seemed as good a place as any. Sorry. πŸ˜‰

    • Eric, in your financially stable society, do I play the dad or the mom? Do I get to hire a homemaker or a sugardaddy? πŸ˜‰ Me being an unmarried, non-parent and all.

      Joking aside, one actual point though. You say: “I believe balancing work and family is difficult for a reason – it’s not meant to be a problem.” While, yes, it’s not meant to be a problem, can you describe a time when Life Balance wasn’t an issue for every adult? I mean, even when my grandmother, god bless her, was raising 10 kids, she still had the guilt (and that’s really what we’re talking about here, isn’t it? guilt for the kids, guilt for the S.O., guilt for one’s own self and selfish desires) of making sure all of her kids and husband got adequate or more attention, the Church got it’s time, the lady friends got their friendship needs, etc. Or my other grandmother, who worried about raising 5 kids with an alcoholic husband who drank away his paychecks (or welfare, depending on his job status.) How does one balance life? It’s a moving scale. One small gust of wind changes it all. It may not be “meant” to be a problem, but it’s a fact of life.

      • By “not meant to be a problem”, I mean that I believe having two working parents is an unnatural and unhealthy arrangement. That doesn’t mean women have to be subservient and stay at home, barefoot and pregnant all the time. It just means that families function better (other things being equal) when one parent stays at home full-time. We shouldn’t have to face that problem and solve it; we need to somehow change society so we don’t anymore.

      • As a childless employee, you’d probably have an advantage over parents due to your flexibility. Thus, you might be able to afford to pay for professional housekeeping. πŸ˜‰

    • I’m kind of with you? In that, yes, if I could stay home, that would be nice — if I could also follow a career or passion or something that doesn’t make me mom all the time. I was in that position, and it was just as hard for me, and on my family. It’s just that I was actually with the kids more. I’ll confess up front: some Mondays, I am so happy to get to the quiet of my little cubicle. πŸ™‚ Payoffs, etc., etc.

  9. My two cents. I’m child free and I work in academic science.

    I’ve yet to work in an industry or an office where calling out of work due to kidlet issues was ‘okay’ or ‘expected’. What is ‘okay’ and ‘expected’ here is that if you had an issue you’d go take care of whatever… then make up your hours. No one ‘got off easy’ or ‘escaped work’. Everyone is overworked and underpaid. People come in at crazy times and work weekends and still more.

    Then again, I’m routinely expected to work 60-80 hours a week, and be grateful I have the opportunity. *shrugs*

    • It’s true, I picked a job that I don’t need to commit more than 40 hours to, and I have PTO etc., etc. I picked wisely. Now that’s it’s not working well, I’d like to pick something else, and “something else” has not come along yet. Or I haven’t found it, or whatever.

  10. I don’t get what’s wrong with that reasoning. Is it really so controversial to suggest that kids take higher priority than career? that employees with children have divided loyalties? That’s not in any way a knock on working parents. Rather, it’s recognizing that parents are likely to and should prioritize their lives differently, and have significantly reduced flexibility as a result. Children are a tremendous burden and responsibility, albeit a blessed one. Let’s not pretend that all employees are truly equally suited to all tasks and roles.

    • I suppose it’s not to much to expect, Eric. But to expect equal compensation on top of those parental-related benefits, I’d say is wholly unreasonable, not to mention unfair to those who don’t get the parental-related benefits.

      • I don’t think we’re in disagreement, really. I must not be communicating well. πŸ˜‰

        My point is exactly that employees with kids are not the same as employees without kids, and they should not be compensated equally. Like it or not, employees without out kids (other things equal) are usually greater assets to companies than folks with kids, due to flexibility and responsibility differences.

      • This is why women don’t get paid equally, you know that right? That’s the de facto position: “She will have a family and other demands on her time, and not be as good an employee, so I’m not paying her as much.” They — we women I should say, start out with that prejudice against us.

        And I spelled prejudice without having to look it up!

  11. OK, everyone agrees I’m psychotic. I duly apologize to RPM, promise to steer clear of her blog henceforth, and ask her to delete my comments.

    One final point: If I’m bitter, it’s because no, in fact, I DON’T have a choice. There are many reasons for this and I’m sure you’re all rolling your eyes going, “Everyone has a choice,” but–no, no I don’t.

    • Relax, no one is calling you psychotic. You can read or not read, comment or not comment, visit or not visit. Just play nice. Both you and @mindymin got het up. I’m not of a mind to delete anything — it stayed on this side of the line, as far as I’m concerned. But if you want me to, I will.

  12. I used to spend more time each month traveling for work than I was at home. Working evenings and weekends were the exception not the rule. I was on a career fast-track and picked up an MBA along the way. And then I had Juliana and I cut back a little bit on travel and slowly worked my way into some work from home (after 8 years of stellar performance reviews with the company – I don’t believe everyone is capable of working from home or should be given the opportunity – case by case).
    By the time the boys were born I was going to the office 1 day/wk (1-hr commute), more if needed for meetings. Now I only go to the office if necessary for a meeting. Also I work for a large global corporation and in my position I am rarely dealing with people from Pittsburgh so being in the office does not provide a great deal of value to the company and they can use that space for someone else.
    These choices comes with consequences – I am no longer on the career fast-track. I have made it clear that I choose my kids over career at this point based on my work hours. I won’t consider relocation which is another strike against advancement. Sometimes I wish I were back on that fast track, but most of the time I am ok with where I am because I get to see my kids almost every morning when they wake up and before they got to sleep at night and at this stage of my life that is my priority.

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