Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Juggling Family and Work: To Work Part-time vs Full-time?

Two weeks ago, I was offered a full-time position at 4C as a Parent Counselor /Strengthening Families Coordinator. What was I thinking when I interviewed for the position?  I had not worked full time in 16 years! I took an eight-year sabbatical with the birth of my third child, while continuing to dabble in consulting work with 4C. Although, I enjoyed staying home with my children and being the “happy homemaker,” I needed something more. As a wife and mother, I seldom received accolades for a job well done.  I was amongst the many moms who were at the mercy of their family and taken for granted.

Four years ago, I returned to the work force part-time. For several years I had put my career on the back burner so I could be available to my growing children. When I was offered the full-time job, I excitedly accepted. A day later, when I took my mother-in-law to the salon for a pedicure, it became very clear to me that her health was rapidly declining due to terminal cancer. My heart sank as I knew I wouldn’t be able to accept the fulltime position with a clear conscious. Guilt set in; she had always been there to offer me support and help with my children whenever I needed her. She was always there. Was I letting her down by deciding to work full-time?

I then began to think of my teen-age children. Who would provide a watchful eye over them as well as guidance? Who would provide transportation to extracurricular activities?  Would I continue to be an active spectator at my boys sporting events? Was I being selfish wanting something more for me?

And there was my daughter Gabrielle who has special medical needs.  Who would I find to pick her up from school? Who would want the responsibility of caring for her medical needs? What if I received a phone call from school asking me to pick my daughter up right away? All moms know this experience: I was juggling many balls in the air and I couldn’t afford to let one of them drop. Panic set in. What have I done by accepting this full-time position? I have so many other responsibilities, how can I possibly take on another and not let anyone down—either my family or my colleagues at 4C?

I agonized over my decision and doubted my judgment.  Was this the right time for me to take this opportunity? Should I wait? Or was I just afraid?  I then began to challenge those questions.  Will there ever be a good time? Will I let circumstances get in the way of my life or will I embrace my circumstances and work this opportunity into my current life? My life will always be challenging and there will never be a good time to seize opportunities. All these thoughts went racing through my head for days resulting in sleepless nights.

I developed a list of pros and cons and talked with other moms who went from part-time to full-time work outside the home. I realized I also needed to convey my concerns to my future supervisors. They assured me of future opportunities if this wasn’t the right time for me or my family. They expressed an honest and frank assessment of my reluctance. They were patient as I was given time to consider my options.

Before arriving at my final decision, my husband and I had several discussions as to the impact my  working full-time would have on the family. We then proceeded with a family meeting. I explained to my children that I had a wonderful opportunity, but it would mean that I may not be able to do everything I did in the past–such as go to every game, etc. They were surprisingly supportive.

Then I found help with Gabrielle. Everything seemed to be falling into place. So I decided to seize the opportunity and go for it.

I started full-time this week. My family and I have survived. This morning, as I walked out my door, I could breathe a sigh of relief. Everyone’s needs have been met: my husband has a happy wife, my daughter and mother-in-law have care, and my boys are learning to be self-sufficient. As for me, I have more confidence and a renewed sense of purpose and self-worth. I am reminded that I will always be working myself out of one job description into another.

— Diann

Photo courtesy of Wondermonkey2k

Comments are closed.