I have been working part-time for the past five years. Why? Since my kids were born, I haven’t been able to commit 100% to the world of the “Working Women”. I’m now part of the “Mommy World,” which means very long hours, no pay, lots of sacrifice and the ultimate reward of pure love. It also means wearing comfortable fleece or yoga clothes, “natural” hair in a ponytail, and un-sexy flat shoes (aka flip flops and UGGs).
As Moms we are experts at time management but looks and appearances come last. Time is devoted to the children’s feeding, education, transportation, entertainment and whatever little time is left is used for resting. Working is only do-able when kids go to school, and only if there is any energy left.
My kids, aged 5 and 6, are now both attending the same school, following the same schedule, and can spend the afternoon with a babysitter (heaven!). It was time to go back to work full-time.
I started applying to several jobs. After interviewing, I got a job offer for a full-time position at one of Miami’s busiest restaurants. I used to co-own and run a highly successful restaurant in San Francisco during my “pre-kids” life, so it seemed like a natural transition.
Or that’s what I thought.
The first day was strange. I spent almost two hours commuting to work. What a waste of time! I could have been doing something more important like volunteering at my kid’s classroom during those two hours. I finally arrived and everyone was running around at 100 mph. People barely noticed me. The manager greeted me and quickly read the company policy. And that was all the attention I got from her. So I decided to shadow her in order to learn from example.
Then I saw a reflection of myself, of what I used to be in my 30’s: Frantic, always in a hurry, business-first mentality over relationship building or anything else.
That first day flew by, and when it was time to go home, I spent another two hours sitting in traffic. I was crazily texting the babysitter… practically begging her to stay for another hour. I was exhausted by the time I got home. Not only did I have just an hour to spend with my kids before putting them to bed. I had no energy for storytelling or time for myself. I was beat.
Day Two was no different except that I got a text message from the babysitter saying she was running late to pick up the kids from school. My stomach dropped. I was an hour and a half away and couldn’t do anything but pray she’d be there on time. I couldn’t stand not being there for my kids. But I had to be ‘here’ for my job.
Day Three was Halloween. Everyone came to work dressed up and ready to celebrate. I felt empty inside. I wasn’t as excited about this scenario as I would be many years ago. All I could think was that I had missed my kids school Halloween Celebration.
My energy was different, my pace was different, and most importantly, my values had changed. I was a working mother now.
When I woke up on Friday, trying to ready myself to go to work, I realized it wasn’t for me. I quit.
This was the first time in my life I said NO to a job. As much as I had longed and needed to make my own money again, to be financially free, to be successful, to be recognized, to be part of the adult world, I couldn’t be part of that world anymore. I had moved on with my life.
Now I know I couldn’t waste time commuting, working only for a salary, idealizing money above anything else. I realized that money is not the most important thing. Sometimes a simpler life, surrounded by the ones we love, is more rewarding and satisfying. I am so blessed for being able to have that. I guess I’ll go back to working part-time and being a very grateful Mom. Who knows, my priorities might change again when the kids are older…
– Consuelo Lyonnet
photo credit: Consuelo Lyonnet