Two weeks ago I started a new job. I work for the same company but for a different department now, with a new manager and on a new, high-profile project. It didn't come with any additional money or an upgraded title but it does come with a great opportunity to learn something new that I can (hopefully) parlay into more money and prestige once the project completes. So for now I bide my time.
My new manager is based out of our London office and she came to the US offices to meet with people and to spend time with me. She was in Boston for several days then went to NY and then came back to Boston for two days. We have a tight deadline to get a presentation done by Tuesday so we were planning to spend a lot of time together this past week to get things done.
So of course while she's here this week, Christopher comes down with a terrible case of the Flu. He was terribly sick and had a high fever that spiked to 103.5 degrees. Of course I had to stay home with him but that meant telling my new manager (who's only here for two days now) that I won't be seeing her those two days. She was not pleased.
I should also note that my new manager is unmarried with no children and she seems to live and breathe her job. She has lived in Boston, London, Luxembourg and Hong Kong for the company. She's definitely committed her life to her work and she's quite good at it.
This of course is the polar opposite of me. I'm a single mom raising a behaviorally-challenged former foster kid. I work hard during the day but in the evening and on the weekends, I'm focused on the kiddo. I'll work when I need to in the evenings and on weekends but I don't make a habit of it. I strive for work-life balance. Oh and I like sleep.
This work-life balance concept is at odds with the lifestyle the new manager has and I worry that I'm starting this new job off on the wrong foot because I needed to work from home two days this week. At the same time, I am not even sure I could put the types of hours into work that she does even if I wanted to do so.
For example, my new boss put in a full day in the Boston office on Wednesday, hopped on a red-eye back to London and then went straight to the office, putting in a full day (and then some) at her desk there. She also worked a full day on Friday and mentioned that she was planning to work all weekend too. Holy cow, that's a lot of work. And something I'd never ever be able to do...even if I wanted to.
I am ambitious and do want to move up the corporate ladder. I want more responsibility, more money and a VP title. And I feel like I've earned that. I work hard and am productive while I'm at the office. At the same time, I want to be able to have a life outside of the office too and don't want to have to sacrifice one aspect of life completely for the other. I want to be able to be relaxed with my child, not exhausted and stressed. I also want to have time with friends and hobbies. Is it possible to have both? Especially as a single mom raising a child with special needs?
Two years ago, I was putting in a lot of 12-hour days at work and was rather cranky and stressed when I was at home. Christopher took my mood to mean that I didn't love him anymore and was going to give him away, so he started acting out. I can't fault him for thinking this because obviously this very action happened to him several times before and he had reason to feel insecure. I did my best to reassure him but hated that my actions were contributing to his insecurity. Once that project was completed, I vowed not to let that sort of imbalance happen again. And I need to stick to that vow for the benefit of my family.
Regarding the two days I worked from home this week, the issues do seem to have blown over and as long as it doesn't happen again a lot, I should be okay. Thankfully I have built up goodwill at my company and found out that my now most previous manager spoke to the new boss and told her that I do work hard and that it's extremely rare for me to take time off for a sick child (which is actually true). And by the time I was back in the office, she did seem to be calmer about my need to work from home two days. Unfortunately she was already back in London so we didn't get our face time but it is what it is. Just bad timing.
Hopefully this was just a minor bump in the road and that I'll be able to move forward with my career smoothly after this. We'll see how it goes.