From the time I was a little girl, I always knew that I needed a certain kind of job – one that would allow me to contribute financially to my family and also be the primary caretaker of my children. I was raised with the notion that women – mothers – first and foremost took care of the house and the children, did the cooking and cleaning and laundry, and worked outside the home if it was absolutely necessary or if they just wanted some “lipstick money” of their own. As such, I chose education as a career; I could contribute to the financial stability of my family and have a schedule that would allow me to still be the primary caregiver for my children.
Looking back now, I wonder if I would have picked education as a career path had I not been so conditioned to choose a job that I could do while also fulfilling my responsibilities as a wife and mother. What might I have chosen if the compatibility of my career with my possible future caregiving duties wasn’t a factor? Law school? Medical school? Business?
I made it three years as an elementary school teacher before I acknowledged that teaching was not my passion or something I wanted to make a lifelong career. I traded my outdated desktop computer, over-crowded classroom, and 15-minute lunch break for the corporate allure of shiny new laptops and hour-long lunch meetings. In the process, I also traded my summers off for a rigid 8:00am-5:00pm schedule that didn’t allow for much flexibility. Employees who left early or arrived late were the topic of hushed conversations, regardless of the quality and timeliness of their work.
After having children of my own, I experienced a great deal of stress about balancing the duties of my job with my responsibilities as a mother. Sick children, field trips, school events, and doctors’ appointments became the things of nightmares because I was so worried about how it would look to my coworkers and the leadership team. I didn’t want to disappoint them or become the subject of the vicious judgment I had witnessed when other parents in the office left work to tend to family responsibility. It became clear that I was going to have to make a choice – my job or my family.
As life would have it, through a series of events that could be their very own blog post, I now have 8 children at home. This year we had a kindergartener, 5th grader, 6th grader, 7th grade, 8th grader, sophomore and senior spread across five public schools…and one in daycare. Working is a necessity for both me and my spouse, but a traditional workplace with rigid hours and inflexible policies would be impossible. Simply getting all the kids to school is a process that takes 2 hours!
I needed major flexibility, and I am so glad I found it.
People ask me all the time if I like working from home. I will be the first to admit that I was nervous at first; I really loved being in an office, surrounded by people and constant activity. Now that I’m a seasoned home office dweller, I can honestly say that I love it. Technology has made working from home, or anywhere for that matter, so seamless that I sometimes forget I’m not in an actually office. Video conferences allow for face time and personal connection, and the same messaging programs that allowed me to communicate with someone in the next cubicle are now being used to communicate with people three time zones away. Document sharing platforms and cloud-based software have taken the place of onsite servers and local networks. I can literally work from anywhere. Just last week I took one of my daughters to get braces, and the appointment took over two hours; in my previous job, that would have required me to use a half day’s vacation, but because of the flexibility I now have I was able to work comfortably from the waiting room while she was with the orthodontist.
I am so grateful that I stumbled across Stay In The Game and that they saw me as more than a (very tired and moderately overwhelmed) mom of eight; they recognized my skills, education, and experience and hired me because of that. Having a work environment that is supportive and trusting has been such a refreshing change. The (all female) leadership understands caregiving responsibilities and they trust their employees to balance those demands with the job. I have found a community of incredibly smart, ambitious women – all of our lives have been changed because of this opportunity. I really can’t adequately describe how much flexibility has meant to my family; it has given me the ability to work and contribute to our financial stability, to be engaged and present in our kids’ lives, and the freedom to set my own schedule.
I’m so excited to watch Stay In The Game grow and expand to help even more women.