Surprising Myself with a Career vs Family Decision

I’m a hard worker. When it comes to my professional life, I work my butt off. I’ve always been that way and figured why do something halfway when I can do it and be the BEST at it? Yeah, in case you forgot… I’m very Type A.

This was my desk at my second ‘real’ job. The dog’s name was Moo and he was one of three office dogs. He was also a boy dog. Until this job I had never seen a boy dog’s thingie and vividly remember the first time his ‘red rocket’ came out while I was on a conference call.

I started at my first ‘real’ job when I was still in college and served as the Public Relations Intern/Assistant at a really cool little nonprofit.

After graduation, I had a hard time finding a position and through sheer luck (and by calling every marketing company in the yellow pages) I ended up with a job at a small marketing/public relations firm.

Within a year, I had moved up from Public Relations Assistant to Public Relations Manager. From there I moved on to become the Director of Communications and Marketing at a nonprofit entity at NSA. Next, I was the Director of Marketing at an accounting firm.

When I worked at the accounting firm, I planned the yearly end-of-tax-season trips. On this trip I was obviously drinking some kind of tequila concoction being fed to me by a clown.

Up…up… UP. I pretty much climbed as quickly as possible towards the top. Every single job was an opportunity to take on more. More responsibility. A better title. More money. You name it and I was working towards it. Year after year after year, I worked as hard as I could.

I was never quite satisfied though.

And then I lost my job while I was pregnant with Jack.

Instead of focusing on something bigger and better, I wildly searched for anything, ANYTHING that was marketing-related that would pay me a salary.

Funny how your priorities change when you’re about to pop out a kid and you’re suddenly jobless, right?

I got incredibly lucky, because after years of wanting to work in higher education I ended up at a really great business university in the area. The position I was hired for wasn’t EXACTLY a ‘marketing job’… the title was a step down… the money was a step down… but you do what you have to do. My boss is awesome, so that made up for a lot.

In the past two years my position has grown to match my skill-set, the title has grown and the money has grown. The schedule recently changed so that the driving is a lot easier on me…knocking off 6 hours of driving each week. I’ll be able to spend more time with my family.

I’m happy.

I finally have a work-life balance that is a bit more life than work and I LOVE It. I still work really hard, but then I go home and I can actually relax. I mean, as much relaxing as you can do when you have an almost two year old to chase around.

The exact same day that I found out my schedule changed, I also found out that they are hiring for a position that would be PERFECT for me. The position for someone with my exact background and I can do it. I can do it REALLY WELL. However, the position is located back in that location that is almost a 2 hour drive from home, and I’d be driving there 5 days each week.

So do I stay in the position that I love, I’m good at, and is finally flexible enough that I can spend more time with my family? Or do I try for a new job opportunity where I can continue my journey of going up, up, UP. More responsibility. A better title. More money.

Oddly this was an easy decision for me.

For the first time… family wins.

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The Moment

You know when you’re watching a juggler and they’re just juggling away with their bowling pins, plates, chainsaws or whatever?

Then, as part of their trick, someone from the audience throws in another item for them to add into the cycle. In that moment of time, as that extra thing is flying through the air towards the juggler, the entire audience holds their breath with anticipation. Will the juggler catch it and continue seamlessly juggling to the crowds roaring applause? Or will that one added item be just enough to throw them off their fluidity – instead of applause there’s a gasp as everything crashes spectacularly to the floor.

As a working mom, my life is a lot like a juggler’s act. In the beginning it took me awhile to get into the swing of our routine with our revolving childcare, long days (and nights) at work with little sleep, and the ever challenging needs of our baby.

Once that act was perfected, it seemed imperative to keep adding more – DIY at home, extra projects at work, some new opportunities on my blog, and freelance graphic design jobs. Adding each item to my constant juggle took a moment to get my balance, but it worked pretty seamlessly.

It’s never enough though, is it?

For some reason I can never just be happy with what my life has already brought me… as I stand there juggling everything high overhead with an air of superiority.

So then we added a new dog. And my son decided to add in his own little gift in the form of toddler tantrums.

Right now, I admit that I’m a bit shaken.

Instead of being fluid and seamless, I’m stumbling… unsure if I can get back into my easy rhythm.

The audience is watching… unsure whether to gasp or clap.

And I keep juggling.

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