Saturday, May 17, 2008

I get a phone call...

WARNING: Extremely long post ahead. Perhaps best to check back later.

Life has been running fairly smooth at Casa de Motherscribe as of late. GIRL loves going to school part-time and we're doing a Mommy and Me swim class at the Y on Saturdays. BOY is still going to school 5 mornings and will be doing his first full day in two weeks. It feels like he is ready and he's been talking about wanting to do a full day and play with his friends for weeks. E has his own home renovation contracting business going full throttle and has decided to start a professional theater company. He is handpicking his board and is very fired up about it. I am continually struggling with balance in my life, and feel on some days that I am succeeding. These first 4 1/2 years with the kids have been challenging for me. It is definitely what I wanted, but I didn't expect it to be so hard at times. Or so incredibly fulfilling either. I find being a mother so full of paradoxes! This may sound odd, but recently I have actually just begun to see what the fun of being a stay-at-home-mom can really feel like. Being available to take BOY to swim lessons, having time with GIRL on mornings when BOY is in school -even if it is doing errands together...it is special time. I feel like I am just getting into my groove. Maybe it is temporary, maybe not.

There was a time, after I got over the hurdle, when I definitely wanted to return to work full-time. However, things have changed in our lives a bit. E is working for himself again and we are not under quite the financial burden that we were before. And with GIRL starting the Pre-K program in the fall, I have been considering what it would be like to work part-time, since they will both be in school 5 mornings a week and 2 afternoons. I also haven't been thinking about outside work over the last few months because I've been focused on BOY and getting him through the rough patch. And he has gotten through! He's flying solo -with us there when he needs us. It is joyful to see his growth!

This week has been crazy with the preparations for Teacher Appreciation Day at the kids' school. We had 30 teachers to celebrate. We booked 2 massage therapists to come in and give the teachers 15 minute mini-massages, had all the families bring in flowers for the teachers and had a dinner catered for them last night. The dinner was scheduled for 5pm and at 5:05pm we were done. It was exhausting, but felt good to pamper the wonderful teachers who take such great care of our children. So, in the midst of racing around picking up supplies for the dinner at Targay and another store, I get a phone call....

It is my recruiter. I haven't talked to her in months! Did I ever get a job? Am I available? She has a job possibility for me as an Executive Assistant to a woman with her own company.

This is the job description: This is a personal assistant to a very educated, particular and fast paced person. LOTS of travel arrangements for the executive in ____ and an additional executive in Austin. Must be computer proficient however uses mostly Outlook for calendaring as R does her own PowerPoint presentations (80 pages plus) and Word, and Excel but wants this person to know the programs in case something needs to be reprogrammed. As the former President of ____, she now does high level compensation deals. Will also do work for another one of her cos. This company is a holding company. Will also assist with personal work such as dinner reservations and appts. Will pitch in with phones as everyone in the office does. Will need to screen calls and realize the when to put calls through. Needs to schedule her appts and confirm them each day. R is a perfectionist who needs all the "i"'s dotted and the "t"'s crossed. She is very set in her ways. She is an Ivy League graduate and a mathematician. Wants a "seasoned" professional to interact with her "high level" ____clients.

I Google the woman. She has testified on a committee discussing the President of the United States' salary. She's been on TV. She's a go getter and a high achiever.

In between last minute errands and setting up for the Teachers' dinner, I go on the interview. I enjoy myself. I'm weird that way. I actually like the interview process. I like meeting people. I meet first with the business manager. She is very personable, and has a great sense of humor. She says THAT is KEY to working there. We meet for about 30 minutes. Then I meet with R who would be my boss and another woman. R has been described as tough and blunt, challenging to work with. I can see that immediately, but what I like about her is that she recognizes this about herself and talks openly about it during the interview. She also says that she does not mean to come across that way, but she is always running, running, running and on to the next thing. The assistant has to be able to run with her. We talk for about 30 minutes and then she has to take a call.

I continue to talk with the other woman, who is friendly and has a good vibe. R may be tough, but she certainly surrounds herself with nice people. It is a small office, and everyone emphasizes the importance of everyone getting along. Apparently the former assistant (who worked there 8 months) had a problem with a bad attitude that impacted the entire group. R needs a people person as the assistant would be representing R. I feel good and finish up the interview. Then I race over to the school to do the final set-up preparations for the Teachers' dinner. My cell phone rings. My recruiter says they want to make me an offer. It's been 20 minutes since I left the interview. The official offer letter is coming in by Monday morning.

And NOW what to do?

There are lots of positives. It is only 5 miles away with a great salary. I would be challenged and I know I could do it. The benefits are OK. Not bad for being a small start-up company. (She resigned as President of another company to start this one just a year ago.) No overtime is expected, unless work is not getting done during a crunch time and then I can work from home in the evening. That is expected to be rare. The former assistant will come in to train me. During the interview, I brought up my needing to be available to go to special functions at the children's school and to go on school tours in the fall observing kindergartens. She said that would not be a problem. The pace would be frenetic on some days and low key on the days when she is out of the office. She travels every week. Sometimes for a night. Sometimes for several days. So, I would have some days that aren't crazed. The other people in the office seem very personable and approachable.

But...do I want to work for a workaholic? (She is there weekends, late at night and early in the morning when she is in town.) Do I want to work for someone who is tough and blunt and needs me to be operating full tilt (even after those nights of 3 wake up calls from BOY)? Do I want to work in a fast paced environment again? Most of all, do I want to spend that much time away from my children? Things would be different. We would have basically the weekends as family time and evenings during the week. Can I jump BOY quickly up to 5 full days? Taking this job would greatly increase our finances, but much of the work that usually falls to me now - the laundry, cleaning, baths, bedtime routine, grocery shopping - basically running the household would probably still fall to me as E is trying to run a business and start a new business, his passion - the theater. I know a lot of women do it - work full-time and do the majority of the work at home, too. I just don't know if that is what I want, if I have a choice. The idea of taking a job would be to benefit the family. I just want to make sure that THIS would benefit the family.

I have NO idea what I will decide. What would you do?


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25 comments:

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Thank goodness I will never deal with this sort of dilemma.

Just don't take the job for the money - it won't be worth it. Take it if you think you would enjoy it. There is no way to find out how flexible your boss will truly be about family matters without trying it out, right? No way to find out if your son can handle the increased hours without trying it out, either.

But it's not a marriage. If it doesn't work out, you train your replacement and you leave. So maybe it's worth finding out if it is for you?

Jen said...

As suburban correspondent said a job is just a job, not a life sentence. If you hate it, you quit, if the woman makes you want to jump out a window, you quit, if the kids can't adjust, you quit, if the house falls apart, with your new salary you hire help! Go with your gut. You have good instincts. If your gut says no, another better job will come along eventually. I'm no help at all, am I?

flutter said...

I would say yes. It really does sound like it could be good

Mrs. G. said...

I agree with the women up top. If you sense that it is going to be awful or be too much for the kids, quit. It might be great. At least feel proud that you got an offer.

happygeek said...

I know that if it were me I wouldn't, but stress and I, we don't like each other.
There are so many positives on both ends eh?
Good Luck and congrats on the offer!

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Personally, I'm not ready to go back to work full time so this would not be a hard decision for me. In fact, I would have even declined an interview. But If it's something you're interested in then go for it! If it doesn't work out you can always leave.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I always knew I wanted to be home with my kids, so I never had this dilemma. Have you tried making a decision one way or the other and doing a gut check? I find that really helps you know what your heart wants (versus just your head). Good luck and congrats on the offer.

g said...

It sounds like a great opportunity, and as everyone upthread says, you can quit if you don't like it. Just be sure you don't change your life-style so that you NEED this job, leaving yourself an escape hatch, and give it 6 months or so.

Now - I will give you my gut-feeling "what I would do" - if it were me - I wouldn't take it, because I know that I am not compatible with being someone's assistant. Assistants end up 'serving" their boss. Some people are really good at it and get a lot of satisfaction from it, I am not one of them. I end up getting pissed off.

I see some red flags in the situation - the speed with which they made the offer means they're 1) in need and 2) make decisions based on gut, first impressions, which can sometimes play out differently. Can I be blunt? It's like "love at first sight." sometimes that works out, sometimes not.

There's a big emphasis on personal interaction - they were quick to reveal the previous person's bad attitude, which, IMHO is unrofessional.

Sorry, I'm giving such a mixed up message! I go back to "love at first sight." It's a great opportunity that could work out marvelously if you and she are compatible. But leave yourself an escape hatch, and don't fall in love - it's WORK, not a relationship.

g said...

And - ooh, I want to hear more about E's theatre company.

Ginaagain said...

Just knowing that they want you has got to be a fantastic ego boost.. and we all need an occassional ego boost. It also sounds like it could be a fantastic opportunity. Unfortunately, there is no way to know how it will all play out until you actually start working. The kids may adjust easily and you may find yourself enjoying the time you spend with them all the more because you have time away. Or not.. in which case you simply give notice and go back to what works for your family.

For me, going back to work last fall was enlightening. I learned that my kids are a lot more capable and resilient than I knew (mine are considerably older than yours so childcare wasn't an issue but unsupervised time was a huge unknown) and that I can keep the house from falling apart, do the laundry, shopping, pay the bills, and keep up with school and sports schedules while working. I also learned that I hated it. I felt like I was wasting my days, giving my life away for nothing but money. I don't regret taking the job, it changed my perspective dramatically, but I was relieved to walk away from it.

You should know that there isn't a right or wrong answer. You are a good mother and going to work is not going to change that a bit.

slouching mom said...

first, congratulations! they must have loved you. no surprise there.

personally? i wouldn't take it. i wouldn't like being someone's assistant -- being at the whim of her schedule, her moods, her needs. i need more predictability than that.

but that's just me.

i know this is probably silly, but sometimes writing down all the pros and cons, right next to each other, helps.

Jennifer H said...

Despite reports of her bad attitude, I think the former assistant could offer a wealth of information. Of course, you won't get the opportunity to meet her unless you agree to take the job, so it's kind of a catch 22.

And then, you would have to be assess whether you can trust her view of the job.

The job sounds great in a lot of ways, so try it out if that feels right to you. And it's fantastic they offered it to you.

How long do you have before they want a decision?

Good luck!

liv said...

as someone who doesn't care to work, i'm going to say, feh. but, that's from me, who works two hours a day, and enjoys that.

no help, am i?

Elizabeth said...

I would have to say no. This time with Girl will never come again, and Boy might react badly just as he is making strides to get back to 2 afternoon...what would happen with five?
I'm not much help though, because I could live the REST OF MY LIFE without working for someone else again.
Congrats on the offer though, always nice to be wanted!
Blessings, EJT

painted maypole said...

oh. ouch. it's hard. I can't tell you what to do. It sounds like it's a job you would love if it were PART time, not full time. Good luck figuring it out

(because you asked...and if it were me? I don't think i'd take it.)

Suzanne said...

JCK, I'm going to join in with those that say no, by echoing their suggestions that this is a time in your children's lives that will never come again. If they were both in school full time, and older and more independent, it wouldn't be such a dilema. But I imagine that each day at this age is full of change and evolution. I believe that your presence in the home is re-assuring to both Boy and Girl, and you get to spend such wonderful quality time with them.

That said.....I also have to tell you to go with your heart, you know what's best for you. And I send you all the best.

-suz

Angeline said...

It feels real good when you are so highly regarded. Its a fight in your head right now, I guess...

Personally, I will not take it, firstly because of the character of your superior...my tip - never work for a woman, you never know when she is having her pms (that is if you know what I mean)

second, if your family can really do without this extra cash...don't sacrifice your family life and time with the kids...you know how kids grow up fast, once the childhood years are gone, the are never coming back again....

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Wow I can't imagine having to make that kind of decision. I would say that if it is what you would love to do, if it makes your heart beat fast with anticipation, do it. If not, think long and hard about the pros and cons.
And if you do it and then it doesn't work out, you can always leave.

HRH said...

Congratulations. OF COURSE they loved you. They would be really lucky to have you.

I am with Tootsie on this. I am not ready to go back to work. I do some stuff on the side for fun, but not anything that would qualify as a JOB. Are you sure this is what you want now? It would also take time away from your writing.

I am sure you will make the right decision for YOU. You will do whatever you do well.

Lisa said...

Seeing as most employers put their best foot forward at the interview, I might shy away--my friend worked for someone like this and she had no respect for my friend's personal life.
If you can get a job this easy, I bet there is an even better one that will work with your schedule :)

Kizz said...

I do that job right now and I've done it in a couple of places for 5 years. I don't have kids but, like E, my passion is theatre. I do this job because I do need the money. I moved to a higher paying type of office because I I thought perhaps I could be paid enough to make me a happy person who does the job.

They can't.

No one can.

If you're at all ambivalent I'd have to say save yourself and don't take it. As you may know, I don't know if you've done this work before, assistantship is a fancy word for servant at that level and it can suck your soul right out your ear holes very easily.

Good luck whatever your decision, though, she sounds like a really interesting boss.

MamaGeek said...

Oh geez, this is the tough of the toughest. I wish I had wisdom (which I do not). For me, right now, I could not. More importantly, ALWAYS so with your gut, it's always right! And you can always change your mind either way.

Jason said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold the phone. You hired 2 massage therapists for your teachers to get 15 minutes massages? You're exhausted from Teacher Appreciation Week?

At my school, the only thing we get for teacher apprecition is a flower yanked from the side of the road on the way to school.

Sorry, I know this wasn't really the point of this post. I must read more carefully and make a more relevent comment.

Manic Mommy said...

Ringing in a little late - sorry friend. I absolutely understand the lure of that kind of a job. I love the idea of being the answer person, the one to rely on.

When I stopped working outside, it was because I didn't think we could manage our family optimally with me still working. I'm reminded of this with every cold, field trip, and quick run to the pediatricians.

I think you're absolutely right to worry about working for a workaholic - especially a woman with something to prove (throwing my gender under the bus). She may seem tough but fair but if she made sacrifices that you're not willing to make, it'll be very hard for her to understand.

Janet said...

I think the fact that you aren't sure means you probably shouldn't do it. And I speak from experience here. I changed a job that I wasn't sure about from the beginning (and this was even before kids were in the mix) and it was a huge huge mistake. But you probably shouldn't pay much attention to me, because my dream job would be in theatre, and my training and experience lies elsewhere, so there aren't too many jobs I would be willing to take right now. I just want some nice publishing company to send me their mystery writers to read and copy edit. Some of them need it.

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