A change is in the air and that wind is blowing in my direction. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it, so I will write about it instead. I have been with the company that I currently work for since I was 22 years old. Before the wedding, before the house, before the baby and before the second baby. Back then I barely knew that Excel wasn’t some elaborate tic tac toe board and when my first boss gave me my first email password, I told her that I wasn’t sure I was going to need that thing. I was greener than your nearest Whole Foods. Thankfully I catch on quickly. I worked my pre-mom butt off and made my way up the ranks to my current position as a property manager of one of our large sites. My apartment community has just about 500 units.
I have been tremendously lucky up to this point because I have really been able to work a schedule that is super family-friendly. Traditionally the property managers work Monday through Friday and I work at a large enough site where I typically have enough staff and coverage to allow me to be able to handle all of the morning daycare drop-offs and many of the pick-ups. This can be challenging because my girls are in daycare about two seconds from my house and my office is 45 minutes to an hour away. I have mentioned before that it is extremely important to me to be home to feed my girls dinner and put them to bed. My parenting style leans heavily towards the attachment parenting philosophy and I honestly hate to be away from my kids. They are my life and my heart and soul.
My company has recently gone through some changes in the executive leadership team and with that comes new directives and expectations. One of the expectations that has just been dropped on the management team is that we are now expected and required to work on Saturdays. Over the summer, we were asked to start working one Saturday a month. I certainly wasn’t excited about that, but it didn’t seem like a big enough deal to really make an issue out of, so I have been reporting in for duty on my one Saturday a month faithfully since I was asked to. This has slowly evolved, and like a tiny snow ball that included one Saturday, it is now an enormous snow boulder that pretty much encompasses all Saturdays. I have always been very transparent and honest about my schedule, availability and feelings about my work time and my family time. The issue was really not forced on me until last week. I had known for a while that I was just biding my time and waiting for the other shoe to drop. The shoe has dropped and there is no avoiding it. I honestly feel like I am being asked to choose between my job and my family. I obviously choose my family. I am upset that I have to make that choice. I have been with this company for almost ten years and I am extremely good at what I do. Why isn’t that enough? I feel guilt mixed with a strong desire to defend my beliefs and stand up for my choices. I feel guilty because other managers are doing the Saturday thing and I truly don’t believe that an exception should be made for me, but I can only fight my own battle. I am sad because I feel like I can see this chapter closing quickly and I am not ready to make such a big change in my career. When I ask my boss how much longer I have, she keeps saying that she refuses to accept that I won’t change my schedule and that she thinks that “something will magically change” and I will be able to work on Saturdays. She also doesn’t understand why I don’t have daycare on Saturdays. (I’ve never heard of such a thing.) My daycare expense for two small kids to go full time is equivalent to a mortgage payment. In what world will it make sense for me to pay for my kids to be watched Monday through Friday and then also be away from them on Saturdays? My kids will only grow up once and I am their mother.
So, I don’t really know what this means for me and where I will end up. What I do know is that no matter what changes I experience, I won’t have a time in my life that I will look back at and regret that I didn’t spend enough time with my family. I will not be watching my daughters graduate kindergarten, middle school or high school, wishing that I had spent more time with them when they were little. I’ve only been a mom for three years and it has gone by in the blink of an eye. Change is in the air, but one thing will remain the same. I choose to be a mom.