Thursday, August 21, 2008

What to tell work

NOTE: I started this post April 21st, before I told work that I was pregnant. I was going to edit it for today, but decided to leave it as is and then add edits to the end. So this first section was written before work knew about my pregnancy.

When I first started working at Texas Life (part time, in 2004), I worked in the office. When I moved, I broached the topic of working from home. It was quickly squelched. Evidently, someone had done it before (who didn't live in the state), and had gotten pregnant and had a baby without the company even knowing. That left a bad taste in their mouths, and they wouldn't think of it.

Well, we all know that at some point they changed their minds, because I now work at home for them, and have for 3 years. However, I'm not sure how my being pregnant will affect their attitudes. In some ways, I think it will be fine. My boss is a granddad and likes to think of himself as a father figure to me. He worries about me and makes sure I take enough time off, etc. And almost everyone on the marketing team has kids. However, they've all got crazy lives, crazy schedules, and most have divorces or dead marriages because of the life of a salesperson. I'm not sure many will understand that I never have found my fulfillment in work, and having a baby will make that more obvious.

Having a baby will also bring up the question, "What will you do after the baby is born?" Many women take their maternity, go back a couple weeks, then quit their jobs. The problem is that I don't know the answer to that question. The truth is, I would love to quit. I've seen work-at-home moms, and it's hard, if not impossible, to keep up the same level of productivity with a newborn.

On the other hand, it just may not be in the cards for me to quit, yet. And that's fine, too. But I can't give work a confident, "Yes! I'll be back and more ready than ever to work hard for this company!"

Here starts the post from today:

So I told work, obviously, and it has not been quite roses since then. Well, I thought it was until last week, when I got my performance reviews in (reviewed by my boss and peers). It turns out that the people in my department don't feel I'm pulling my weight, or sacrificing enough for my job. They feel it's just a job to me, and no more. Which, if you just read the first section of this post, you'll know is true. My work is not my life, and I sadly work in a department where most people have sacrificed their lives (and the lives of their families) for their work. Now, there are two sides to every coin, and I'm not saying the review was completely off the mark, but this is the first review I've gotten in three years that has been less than exemplary, so I do know there's a connection.

Last week I also had a discussion with my boss about my maternity leave. At the time, we knew of no one in our department who had set a precedent for maternity leave--everyone came into the dept. with kids already (which tells you the age difference between myself and everyone else). The day I announced my pregnancy, I'd asked for 6 weeks leave, and I described when I would take off and get back, supposing Caleb came the day expected. However, last week, my boss wanted me to outline again exactly what I wanted, and he implied that I needed to be available for emergencies, and stay in contact at least through part of my leave. Well, I know what an "emergency" is in a marketing department: it's any crazy project you promised to a client to be ready by Friday. They come up every week. So I knew I didn't like that idea, but didn't know exactly what to do.

Yesterday I went to lunch with a lady who has 5 kids and hasn't been in the department very long. She stressed the importance of 6 weeks of leave, and how I was doing the right thing to expect it. Knowing how our department works, she did suggest a compromise by my offering to be available through e-mail the last two weeks. Then, evidently, after I left for home last night, she went in and talked to our boss, expressing my frustration about it. It turns out he had done a little research himself, and found that one lady in our dept. did take maternity leave, and she took 12 weeks! My friend told him that she thought my request for 6 weeks was very good, and she would support it. She called me this morning to tell me, but still reminded me that offering to be available the last two weeks was still a good move. And I agree.

So, here is what I will request (and you can put edits in your comments): 6 weeks maternity, leaving Nov. 21st to return on Jan. 5th. The last two weeks (Dec. 22-Jan 2), I would be available through e-mail only, and only do edits of existing pieces, no creation of new pieces. Any time I spend working will not be counted against my maternity, including 30 minutes per e-mail.

So what do you think? Now, I realize that's the holiday weeks, and I can't imagine that they would find a reason to e-mail, but I'm willing to still answer any e-mails. Plus, Caleb will pick his own time to come, so the last two weeks might not fall on the holidays.

The following paragraph subject to change due to further instruction from God:

Beyond my maternity leave, Jon and I have decided that I will quit my job when able. That means that if Jon has already found a job starting in January, I will probably go ahead and quit, with perhaps a couple of weeks to prepare things for the next person coming in. If he has not yet found a job, I'll keep working until he does, and he'll keep on with his part-time security job, which will allow him to stay home with Caleb on the days I go into the office. When I quit, I become full-time mom and part-time photographer.

And with that paragraph, my life changes!


  1. So many things to think and pray about. Sheldon and I have been in the same boat. I'll be taking 12 weeks off, returning part-time, but I offered to be available by phone or e-mail during my twelve weeks. That was with the understanding that I would charge my time accordingly.

    I think your offer is very generous. Good luck with Jon finding a job in Jan.!

  2. You are so smart to realize that life with a newborn will be a bit distracting, to say the least. It's so easy to idealize everything before reality hits, but you're on the ball! Awesome news about the photography business!! Oh, and I think your offer is more than generous :)

  3. @Tricia: I've had two friends who have tried to work full-time at home with a newborn, and one had her baby in daycare in about two weeks, and the other is quitting her job soon. They've both been my test cases. I know it must be possible for some, but they've shown me how hard it is, and I don't think it's something my company will be friendly toward (no one wants to hear a screaming baby in the background of a conference call).

    And I'm excited about the photography business, too! I think it has so much potential, and should work very well for when I'm a new mom.

  4. Sophie was a great child. It was I who had the hard time staying home for 6wks! In fact, I was bringing Sophie into work with me after 2, or was it 3, weeks of being home! She mostly slept and you could tell when it was time to leave... :)

    And if sending this infomration to your boss, I would point out that if Caleb decide's to come a little later (Sophie came at 41 wks), then your schedule will need to be adjusted accordingly.

    Good luck! I know you've put a lot of thought into this and will write the right thing.

  5. I am glad you had someone else to talk it over with at work who was sympathetic. I'll pray for the situation to all work out just fine. :)

  6. I'm probably no help. I quit working about three months after I got married and haven't really worked since. I just wanted to let you know that I'll be praying for you! I know it can't be an easy decision!

  7. I think that sounds like a great request and plan. Be firm!!! Don't settle for anything less than what you need. It is good you have an advocate in your friend at work. We'll be praying that everything works out ok.

  8. Well, I'm not going to tell you how working and caring for a baby are hard to do, because they are, and that's that. I do think the part-time option will be a great plan for you and Jon, and I hoping that will work out well for us, too, when I get some of these harrier projects out of the way.

    But here is my advice about quitting a job... DON'T worry about the company. YOU need to do what's right for you and your family because that comes first. You can easily give two weeks notice and then LEAVE, no strings attached. People do it all the time, and they shouldn't expect you to be available once you leave. They need to hire a new person to do your job, and if you're still there and can train them, then great. But otherwise, make a clean break and feel good about it. I know you don't want to leave things unfinished and you might feel bad (for them, not you) about leaving, especially if you wait until after your maternity leave to announce it. But people do it ALL the time, companies tend to expect it, and your workplace will GO ON without you.

    John told me about your review, and my initial reaction was that a) people in your dept can't relate because of a different live stage and values and b) they're probably jealous because you get to work from home and they don't. Sadly, people bring these kind of biases in when they should be just looking at your job performance. Anyway, that's just my inital reaction, because you ARE good at your job... perhaps not PASSIONATE, but you still work hard. Marketing is a hard, demanding place to work, too.

    Sorry this is so long! I should've just emailed you. Gosh, I hope no one from work reads this... feel free to delete... once you heed my advice, of course. :-)

  9. Work and family are hard. But gratefully we know which is more important for our true commitment. Work your hardest and your darndest when you are there, but DO NOT feel pressured to bend and give when it only benefits a company.

    Personally, I think America would run a lot smoother and happier when we realize what's really important and NO you don't have to work ridiculous hours and make sacrifices to 'get the work done.' It always gets done.

  10. What Leanna said times two. There is great sacrifice is being a stay at home mom, but it is not impossible. Beans & rice may become a staple, but you will be where God has called you to be and that's what matters. Work will get over it. If this is what you & Jon want, then you must be optimistic and try, trust & pray, and be hopeful!


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