By Cheryl Gochnauer
Like a distracted driver suddenly realizing she’s traveled the past five miles without actually seeing the road, Melissa stops typing her boss’s report. Scanning the pages, she tries to focus on her work.
But her mind keeps going back to chubby fingers messing with her hair this morning. Little lips smacking her forehead, followed by a bear hug as strong as a toddler can give. Then the same lips trembling, “Don’t go work, Mommy…play! Mommy… Mommy…”.
Wincing, she remembers peeling tiny fingers off her suit jacket. Her child’s wailing follows her to her car, to work, and still echoes in her head.
Katie’s deadline looms, but in the midst of last-minute swamp at the shop, she glances at the clock for a different reason. Three-thirty. The bus will soon drop her sixth-grader at their empty house.
“I hope she remembered her key this time,” Katie frets. Only two hours and Katie will be home. But instead of “only”, those two hours seem like an eternity. A lot can happen in two hours, her conscience whispers.
“She’ll be all right. She knows where everything is.” Katie forces herself to return to the work at hand. But the uneasiness remains.
The women huddle around the lunchroom table, squeezing a few extra moments out of their 10-minute break. “Don’t get me wrong, Girls,” says Danielle. “I worked hard to get this job. But I’d stay home with my kids in a second if I could figure out how to do it without going under financially.”
As you read through these scenarios, you may see yourself pictured, or maybe recognize one of your girlfriends. I was a working mom for six years, and remember all too clearly the conflicting demands of career and motherhood. What made it so tough was that I wanted to succeed and enjoy both roles. But there simply wasn’t enough time to excel in two full-time jobs, although I tried.
One Homebodies reader, a tenured teacher who recently made the difficult decision to turn in her resignation, put it very well. “I am of the opinion that the choice (between career and kids) wouldn’t be so hard if society made it easier to be a part-time professional.”
Are you listening, Employers? There are smart, savvy women working for you now who would be even better employees if work schedules were flexed to allow them to care for their children, too.
And there are smart, savvy women presently at home full-time because they were given an “either/or” choice. You may be missing out on skills and abilities that could benefit your business, just because of a mindset that overlooks the gold mine inherent in a content, part-time or home-based professional.
It’s something to think about.