A Balancing Act

Standard

So after the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on the past few years.  It’s been a pretty hectic ride, went from miserable wife, to single mom, to single mom working multiple jobs to a long-term relationship working one full time job.  The one thing I have to admit is that I’m horrible at finding that balance between mom, girlfriend and employee.

I’ve always had a hard time trying to spread myself out equally among each aspect of my life.  Honestly though, now that I found an industry I’d like to build a career in, I’m having the most difficult time yet.  When I was freshly-divorced, I was working 2 and sometimes 3 jobs with an odd (and often revolving) mixture of full-time and part-time.  I had to learn how to go from a Stay at Home Mom to a single mom busting ass with no child support.  For some odd reason, I didn’t have a problem at all back then.  It might have been because those jobs were all quick blow through jobs.  You know, shitty jobs that I didn’t care about.  That I didn’t dwell on once I left after my shift.  I could go and drop my kiddo off at childcare, go to job A, finish and go to job B and finish my shift.  Then Work-Me was switched off, and I was back to Mom-Me.  I didn’t let work related stress react with the way I was parenting (I tried my best with financial stress, but sometimes that leaked through. Now that I’m older and have “mom friends” I realize that this is normal).

Now, I’m having a hard time balancing.  I can’t seem to lock out the stress from the office from my home-life.  I can’t seem to balance all the different aspects of me.  Work-me stays stressed out far past when I should be in Mom-me-mode.  And girlfriend me?  Well… girlfriend me shows up eventually. Girlfriend-me comes in last here, with working full-time, I try and overcompensate and smoosh as many activities into the time I do have with my daughter to make up for the time I miss with her at work.  It seems like I can’t win sometimes. 

Thankfully, my boyfriend knows what has been bugging me at the office and he also knows how much it bothers me that I’m not able to be at home with my daughter.  He’s heard my rampages regarding how I wanted my family to work and how I feel like shit that I have to work.  (And yes, even when I’m pissed like this… the divorce was totally worth it!!)  So he understands, most definitely, and knows I’m making an attempt to spend time with him too.

I’m getting better at it though.  The stress from work is still following me home, but it’s quickly chased away with iced coffee (or wine) out on the back deck while my kid plays.  Ry and I have taken to spending half an hour together after work and before dinner to just vent about our days or talk in general.  It’s like taking half an hour to shake off the stress.  Usually during this time, the kid is either playing outside or working on her homework (since when do 1st graders have homework 4 out of 5 nights?!) so she gets her stuff done.

I’ve learned no work talk during the weekends.  None.  Absolutely none.  Not even during our morning coffee.  It creates a mini-vacation.  We’ve also been making it a point to go somewhere each weekend, even if it’s just to the forest preserve or to wander around some downtown area each weekend.  If I’m busy, Work-Me takes a hike and I can focus on my family, instead of the 20 voicemails I’ll be walking into on Monday.  These new rules for the weekend are one of the many reasons I try to not work Saturdays.  I’m away from my house on average 50 hours a week.  It doesn’t sound like much to most people, but to a former Stay at Home Mom, that’s a lot.  My weekends are mine.

I honestly think the biggest improvement I’ve made?  I sit down and help my daughter with her homework or read a book (I have a big time reader thank god!) every night.  I put the chores off and sit down and do it.  Working with her, reading her stories, or even going outside to play puts the work-stress right out of my head.  (And I most definitely would put off folding laundry to read a Dr. Seuss book any day of the week!)

I’m not perfect, and I’m most definitely still learning the art of balancing.  I do have to say though… being a stay at home mom was hard.  It was HARD, I know a lot of people don’t think it is.  I know with staying at home I felt like I lost my identity and almost lost myself.  Being a Stay at Home Mom is most definitely a trying and a full time 24/7 job.  However, being a working mother?  It’s a whole different set of hard.  I don’t think it’s more difficult than staying at home, but I do think that it’s a whole different kind of difficult.  Even after, what, almost 4 years or so?  I still don’t have the hang of it.  That’s okay though, I’ll figure it out one day… until then, wish me luck!

Advertisements

Proverbial Line in the Sand

Standard

I’ve been bitching about this quite a bit lately, both here and on Facebook and Twitter.  At first I thought maybe I was overreacting, I tend to have super high expectations for everyone and maybe it was just that… but I don’t think so anymore.

Work.  Work is now my own personal hell.  I’ve been there for 2.5 years now, and I used to love my job.  Well, I still do… but I hate what it’s becoming.  I love the countertop business, I do, I love working in this field and even better, I love running the install routes.  I love the guys I work with and the chicks ain’t too bad either.  (Insert horrible lesbian work joke here) Things have been slowly changing over the last couple of months, and in the last couple of weeks, it’s been rapidly changing.

Skipping over all of the drab parts, we hired a new “install manager”.  I title that I believe, each and every day a little bit more, belongs to me.  Almost immediately he lost my vote because he snapped on a customer way beyond what I deem as acceptable for customer service, but I vowed to give him a chance to benefit my new general manager.  As time has gone on, I’ve covered for him with the installers, service calls, and multiple other issues… all with the hope that it really was a “training issue”.  I’m pretty much past that now.  It’s a customer service issue, he’s not cut out for it.  He’s not cut out for management either.  It’s been exceedingly harder, each day, to watch him struggle through, and make wrong decisions.  It’s harder yet knowing that the main reason he was hired was taken away from him because he was “overworked”…. that duty he lost?  It was the reason I decided not to go for the position.  So yeah.  There’s that.  (However, I never thought the position should include that to begin with – hence my not applying.)

Whatever.  I promised myself, as well as someone else that I would hold my tongue and give him a chance.. and you know what?  It’s not worth it.  I give up.

So today, there were a lot of install issues.  The schedule for tomorrow got really messed up (by no doing of my own), a problem customer did not get installed today like she was scheduled to and it was near impossible to figure it out due to another top not being ready and two installers refusing to work and run errands (which I agree with).

Whatever.  The whole time this is going on, I’m trying to get the “install manager” who is there to handle “install issues” to handle it.  Every call I’m forwarding to him and letting him handle.  Him and my other manager were working on it, as I tried to plow through my job.

I was determined to have a good day, which I did mostly until all of that started.  I was dead set that I would take a lunch AND leave on time.  It was about time I started focusing on my job, (not other positions) and enjoying life again.  Plus, my daughter’s school had a bake sale today, and Noodle had been talking about it all week.  I made sure I had cash on me because she wanted to “buy” me chocolate covered strawberries and a rice krispy treat for herself.  Our whole gameplan was to get sweets, and then spend the late afternoon in the sprinkler.

So while I’m trying to figure out where some T1 lines run for some random survey guy, my “install manager” walks up with a list of the problem customers for tomorrow, and says “I wrote everything on there, they just need to be moved”, he wanted to leave because he wanted to spend time with his teenage daughter.

I didn’t even think to look at it, I should have.

I went back to my desk after getting rid of the survey guy and finished my paperwork.  I clicked open my scheduler and looked at his paper.  He didn’t contact a single customer, figure out where to move the jobs or who should take them.

He left it to me.  15 minutes before I have to leave.  I called my gen manager and asked what to do and she asked me to stay until she got there.  Well, apparently it was until after she left too.  She thankfully moved the schedule and left a message for the problem customer, so all that was left was the paperwork.  At this point, I’m already supposed to be out the door, but she has to leave… so what choice do I have?  I can’t find any of the drawings and had to print and redo the paperwork again.

I get out of work, finally, half an hour late.  I had already lost hope at that point, the bake sale only went until 5.  I lost hope, in reality as soon as I realized what the “install manager” had left me.

I got to my daughter’s school, and make it in the door to be jumped on my my kid.  Apparently there was one rice krispy treat left, and she wanted it.  Her teacher went on to say that she had paced up and forth up front waiting for me since four… she wanted to make sure I got there before they ran out.  She paced… for an hour and a half.

Call me sappy, but that broke my heart.

On the way back to the house I allowed myself to think about it.  I let myself get mad.  My “install manager” who gets paid salary to handle “install issues” bailed on me leaving me the work.  As my coworker put so bluntly “where’s your supervisor… isn’t this *hiiiiis* job?”  He has an issued phone, if he had to go home so badly, work from home.  That’s why you’re paid salary.

But no.  He wanted to spend time with his teenager, so he left me with the work while my 6 year old is on her 11th hour in daycare waiting for me.  He bailed on HIS JOB and left me with the work while my kid paced.  What about me?  What about my kids?  I may not work much overtime anymore, but I work a hell of alot longer than he does.  So while he does whatever it is he does that magically takes up 8 hours… making more cash than me, I bust my ass.  Just to get his work load dumped on me.  So even though he could have worked from home, or stayed the extra 45 minutes, you know…salary… he bailed.  And I got stuck doing his work again…. and my kid got stuck at daycare… again.

I came home in tears.  I have finally had it.  I broke down and talked everything over with Ryan.  I told him how I got defensive about my installers when the “install manager” spent 15 minutes bashing one of them even though the installer just followed our general managers order.  I told him how I was glad I took a full lunch, and even went out to eat, because I deserved it.  I told him all of the shit he’s been listening to for weeks now.  I told him how my kid paced, and I told him how it broke my heart that I missed her bake sale.

It seems like I’m not the only one who has hit the breaking point.  Ryan has always backed me up in whatever I wanted to do.  He listens, lets me talk it out and endure.  Now?  He wants me to quit.  I didn’t know what to say, because I do love my actual job, but he went on.  He made some points I couldn’t argue with, beyond the fact that I’m being walked on.  He is dead set that I should’ve walked off and never came back after the “install manager” left today.

I think it was honestly seeing me so upset over my daughter.  It’s really got me thinking.  I’ve voiced my concern about everything, not just my install manager, several times now.  I’ve talked to *everyone* I work with, so far every. single. fucking. coworker. agrees with me.  I know I’m not in the wrong.  It just doesn’t look like things are going to change.  I don’t think the “install manager” is being an ass intentionally, I just think he is completely wrong for customer service as well as for management… and I honestly don’t think it’s going to change.

So I have a job I used to love on one hand, but I have a man I love telling me to quit and find something else… it’s not like we don’t have his job to fall back on.  He doesn’t want to see me miserable… and quite frankly all of this shit doesn’t seem worth missing the summer with my daughter.

 

 

I don’t know.  This is going to be a good weekend we have lots of stuff planned, and I have some downtime as well to figure out what *I* really want to do.. and what I think is the right decision.

 

All I know, is that this shit is ridiculous… and if I do decide to stay, I’m not handling it anymore.  I’m there to thrive at my job, to take care of the installers, and the keep the customers happy.  I’m there to make sure the shop has enough sqft, and to make sure I do my job right.  I’m not there to pick up the endless slack, I’m not there to get shit dumped on at the expense of my kid, at the expense of my job preformance.  I’m not there to watch someone make more than me, just to suck at doing his job.

 

When I suck?  I get in trouble.  When he sucks?  He gets a lighter workload.

 

 

Choices

Standard

Everyone is always so surprised at what is inside my head.  Not necessarily my thought process or the majority of opinions, a good chunk of my coworkers and friends have gotten used to my outbursts and off the wall comments.  I guess for a stereotype, liberal, single mother of one, once divorced and with a Chronic Illness, I’m dead on.  Yet one thought, one opinion or rather personal choice (or in this case, want) always throws the ideas that people base me off of right out the fucking window.

You tell me what you see?  I’m 26 years old with a 5 year old.  I’ve already been divorced, and literally the only thing that keeps me out of work besides the kiddo being sick is a straight up hospitalization.  I’ve worked for every scrap I have and bought my own house by the time I was 23 and have done my best to earn enough money to give my child a nice life.  I love work and strive for more mental stimulation.  I started college just because my brain felt… dumb.  I’ve worked in almost every field and eventually I’d like to open my own business or get a higher up management position…..

[Now here’s what throws people off, this has gotten me raised eyebrows since my daughter was born, and was reiterated when I was talking with my co-worker last month.]

… if I have to continue working.

When I was pregnant with Noodle, I sat down with my ex-husband over dinner one night.  He wasn’t paying attention so I threw a packet of crackers at him.

“A mother is supposed to be at home for her children.  I want to stay at home with her.”

Much to my surprise he was more than okay with that.  So I was a Stay at Home Mom until I bought my house and got a job (my marriage was deteriorating and the end was ever so apparently near).  While my brain was dying (hence, starting college), I enjoyed staying at home, teaching my daughter and taking care of my (then) apartment.  I liked having dinner ready for my husband when he got home and having family dinners together avoiding the globs of pureed peas my daughter loved to fling.

It was the way it was supposed to be.

When I started working again, at first it wasn’t too bad.  Noodle spent time at three different friend’s houses, all three of which I trust with my own life.  They all were more like extended family, so it didn’t bother me much, beyond my selfish reasoning.  It hurt to hear about what she had learned to do each day, it bothered me that I wasn’t the one taking her to the park or to a birthday party.  Granted my friends were wonderful enough to take photos so I could still see her antics, but it bothered me.

Then.  Then, I got a full time job during normal hours (I always worked 2nd/3rd shift).  Then I got a second job (the spring before last).  So I entered Noodle in daycare.  This daycare is the same one she’s at now, she went to preschool there and now Kindergarten.  She’s thriving and each day it’s more apparent that I have a very intelligent, vibrant little girl.  However, now that I’m back to working full time during the day, I don’t get to spend that much time with her.  A mere 45 minutes in the morning, and 2.5 hours at night (I’m a strict bedtime mom, we get up too early to do otherwise).  Monday through Friday.  I spend more time with my co-workers than my kiddo, and she spends more time with her teachers (whom I love) than me.  Such is the life of a working mother.

Do I believe that working mothers are horrible?  Oh far from it, especially single mothers.  It takes a strong woman to be able to balance work and home life and survive both equally.  I don’t look down on career women or moms that choose to work for whatever reason.  My point is, I just wish I didn’t have too.

I was raised with a stay at home mom, when we became school age, she got a job during the time we were at school. (OH MY GOD, my mother worked AT MY SCHOOL.  Talk about getting double the punishment, her desk was right outside the principals office… had to walk right past her if I got in trouble.) Then she’d come home afterwards and spend time with us.  So naturally that’s what I grew up basing life on.  So when I started my own family, that’s how I wanted to run my family.  Things just didn’t work out that way.

Ryan and I have talked about it, especially after he saw the “change” in me when I took the 5 day vacation and stayed at home.  If I had my way, I’d stay at home and work part time (because frankly, my brain is not wired to stay at home permanently).  I’d work my old hours and be home when my kid was, so not only could I take care of her but so I could take care of my house and cook (better).  That’s what I enjoy doing, frankly I could give a crap less about a career that I’ll spend time at for the rest of my life.  We’ve decided if Ryan can get a job making a substantial amount more than me, and we are sure that it’s secure that I would drop down to part time, or find a part time job. (The chances of that happening in THIS economy is slim to none, so I’m doing what I do best and trying to excel and hopefully someday move up in my current job.)

That’s what throws people off.  Especially people that don’t know that I was already “At Home”.  I think my whole “stance on feminist ideals” doesn’t help either.  What people fail to realize though, feminism isn’t about forcing women into a career or whatever.  It’s about giving women a CHOICE.  A choice to stay at home, a choice to have a career (and be paid fair for her work).  My choice (or want, like I stated earlier) is to stay at home and take care of my house and family.  That’s what’s right for my family, and if I can, I will.  (But again, Economy, so hello career haha).  I guess I’ll just deal with the raised eyebrows, I like catching people off guard anyway.  It makes life that much more fun.