For the first time in weeks, I missed writing a post on a Wednesday. I guess I needed a break.
Nearly two months ago, I was offered a promotion at work. Though I was honored, I also understand that promotions usually arrive with added obligations. In my case, I was asked to surrender my 4 day/week schedule and work full-time. Thirty percent of my time would be spent on the road covering seven states. I did consider the offer but in the end, as a single mom of three teenagers, I couldn’t figure out how I could do it all.
This sentiment is reflected in Anne-Marie Slaughter’s controversial article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” published in The Atlantic. She writes:
“In short, the minute I found myself in a job that is typical for the vast majority of working women (and men), working long hours on someone else’s schedule, I could no longer be both the parent and the professional I wanted to be…”
Each time I held one of my children for the first time, I joyfully imagined all the years ahead of us that we could share. Last fall, my oldest went away to college and is gone for 8 months of the year. The others will be leaving soon enough. Though I consider myself a feminist and value my work life, I did not have kids to spend so much time away from them. I turned down the offer. My current job will be cut at the end of August. After 18-1/2 years with the same nonprofit organization, I will be laid off.
I recognize that I was extremely lucky to be offered a choice. I made the decision that felt right to me. That said, I still need a little time to process this sea change in my life. Ruth Luban, a counselor and author of the book Are You a Corporate Refugee? A Survival Guide for Downsized, Disillusioned and Displaced Workers posits that laid-off workers face similar feelings as those experienced by immigrant refugees. She advises that the sense of loss should not be minimized nor rushed through.
I am committed to doing my best to complete the essential tasks and finish on a good note. And then I want to give myself some time to take a deep breath. Like a tide flowing in and out, emotions continue to rise and fall inside me. I love when the moments of exhilaration float in—I can remind myself what a wonderful opportunity this could be to put my creativity more fully to work.
But for now, I simply needed a day off.
For more on Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article, see: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-can-8217-t-have-it-all/9020/