MBA Mommy

Part MBA, Part MRS, Part MOM…..All ME

Dilemma

Posted by mbamommy on November 18, 2011

I have a problem.  Well, I think it’s a problem.  Maybe it’s not.  Maybe it’s a dilemma (are those even different?).  See, on one hand, I can’t figure anything out that’s actually wrong with my situation.  But, on the other hand I can’t figure anything out that’s right.  Something’s not quite fitting in my round hole/square peg life.

Wanna hear about it?  Great, I’m glad you asked.

I work part time right now. I work for this amazing company who’s agreed to let me do my job when and where I want to do it.  This is a company that is considered THE thought leader in my industry; one that I’ve admired since I began my career 10 (15!) years ago.  They pretty much have said, “So, what do you want to do?  OK, how about a mix of that and a little of some stuff that isn’t super interesting but needs a capable mind to manage it?  Yes?  OK great!  Now, how much do you charge?  OK, that’ll work.  Here’s your deadline.  Send the work in by then.  Thanks so much for the help and let me know if you have any questions.”

I am still able to do kidlet drop off and pick up.  I can still take Z to his therapy appointments.  I can still run errands and go grocery shopping.  I can still (in theory if not in actual practice) go to the gym.  And I am contributing to the family checking account.  I have one foot in the business world and one foot in MBAMommy-land.

Perfect, right?

And then this amazing company invites me to attend and work at their conference.  Again, this is THE conference for my industry.  One that I’ve wanted to attend since I began my career 10 (15!) years ago.  So, they fly me to a warm place, put me up in a gorgeous hotel and give me a job that’s fairly mindless but allows me to watch all the presentations for 3 days.  I don’t really have a whole lot of responsibility, especially compared to my counterparts working the registration booth and speaking with clients and being the collective face of the company.  I can just sit back, relax, and watch things unfold.  Hell, I even have time to go to the gym almost everyday.  No kids, little responsibility and warm weather for an entire week.

Perfect, right?

Seriously, how could I ask for more?

And therein lies my dilemma.  I don’t have a lot of responsibility.  I don’t have to be in front of the client.  I have one foot in the business world and one foot in MBAMommy-land.  And I sit back and I watch major events unfolding on both sides.  While sitting on the sidelines.

Back at home, poor J is dealing with one illness after another.  Before I left, Z had strep and croup and I was sick as a dog, staying in bed trying to get better so I could come to this conference.  So, J comes back from his own business trip and jumps in with 2 feet to take care of all of us.  2 nights before I leave, Z runs downstairs at 9pm to inform us that he’s just swallowed a nail.  And, off to the ER J & Z go.

See the watch pin?  Turns out we didn’t have much to worry about.  But that damn pin didn’t see the light of day until AFTER I’d already left for the conference.  Since I’ve been gone, J’s had to deal with gross kidlet issues from both kids and both ends (‘nuf said).  And, here I am, at this amazing conference, soaking it all in very intellectually.  Sleeping well, working out, eating like a queen and getting to know my co-workers.

Can you say Mama guilt?

But, the issue is more than just Mama guilt.  I’ve found myself in an awkward position here too because of the one foot in, one foot out situation.  The MBA in me is frustrated that I’m not busier, that I don’t have more responsibility, that I’m merely benched and watching everyone else work their magic.  And, when I am confronted with doing the polite chit-chat of getting to know someone professionally, I struggle because I’m most comfortable talking about kids and Asperger’s…..not exactly a hot topic at a business convention.  And, I’ve found it hard to explain my role and my background.  Below is an example of a recent conversation:

Co-Worker: “So, I’ve heard your name before….what is it that you do?”

Me: “Well, I work part time as a project manager, but I also dabble in sales stuff and research stuff and I’ve worked on X and Y and Z.  But, really I’m also a stay at home Mom to 2 kids that are in school full time.  My older one has Asperger’s so I can’t really go back to work full time because he still needs someone to drive him to his therapies and neither kid handles a full day with after school care very well.  But, I can work part time while they’re at school and still pick them up when school is over.  Hopefully someday I’ll be able to go back to work full time….”

Versus a similar exchange 5 years ago:

Client: “So, what’s your role at your company?”

Me: “Well, I’m the Director of Client Strategy.  I oversee the account teams and help with strategic direction and business development.”

See the difference?  One is a great elevator pitch.  The other? Ramblings of someone who’s not quite sure of where she stands because she’s got one foot in two distinctly different worlds.

So, I guess my dilemma is this.  In MBAMommy-land, things are perfect.  I’ve found an amazing balance between work and life that I’ve wanted since I had kids.  I’m in a perfect situation with a great company.  I get to experience things I’ve wanted to experience my entire career but don’t necessarily have a lot of skin in the game.  But out in the real world, when i’m confronted face to face with those that have skin in the game, it’s not easily packaged and delivered.  At least not yet.  I’ve got my work cut out for me figuring out this new spot I’m in.

What about you?  Does anyone else out there have this same challenge of explaining the round hole/square peg you live in?

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11 Responses to “Dilemma”

  1. Josh said

    How about, “I’m a consultant”. No one really knows what a consultant is (at least I don’t). But everyone knows consultants exist, do some work somehow, and do contribute to the overall performance of the company. Kinda like gnomes.

  2. James A. Lamb said

    My kids and my family come up a lot in my professional life. i swore I wouldn’t do that. My elevator pitch sounds like yours.

    Tony

  3. I hope everyone is healthy again in your house. And I’m so glad that Z was OK – so scary!

    I think you absolutely perfectly describe the dilemma that so many women in our generation experience. Growing up we saw the numbers of women doctors, lawyers, engineers, and MBAs soar. But that family-work life balance was tough to manage. As young girls, we were told we could be anything we wanted to be and got the education to prove it. But as we began to have babies we said, “We want more balance, more flexibility, more maternity leave.” I watched this with my sisters-in-law who are 6-12 years older than I am. One quit her prestigious position at Yale Medical School to stay home with her boys and the other established a fabulous career as a Nurse Practitioner with hours that worked with her kids’ school schedule.

    I stayed home full-time for about 6 years and whenever we were out in work-related social situations for my husband’s company, I was quickly dismissed by many new acquaintances because I didn’t have a career. They just didn’t have anything to say to a stay-at-home mom(and I’m not one of those extroverted people who can keep the conversation going). I’m extremely well read, kept up with politics, travel with my family, but as a stay-at-home mom I wasn’t worth their time. I know I sound extreme and truly not everyone was that rude, but it happened often enough that I still remember.

    I think the important thing to remember is to be proud of your decisions and know that you are doing what is right for you and your family. My sisters-in-law did exactly what they wanted to do and didn’t’ take guff from anyone. I was thrilled to stay home with my boys when they were small because that’s what worked best for us. If someone dismissed me because of that, then that was someone I probably didn’t want to talk to anyway.

    Polish up your response – I’m a Project Manager specializing in sales and research. Done. They don’t need your whole life story : )

  4. Michelle said

    I’m in a very similar situation. I left a rising career in Fortune 500 firm to try being my own boss… which turned into being a part time WAHM with an autistic son (and another baby due very soon). It’s hard to explain to people – especially the SAHMs in the therapist’s waiting room. I struggle to find the balance between the other moms thinking I’m trying to be superior to them by saying I’m a business owner and the other moms accepting me/taking me seriously as a potential new friend/playdate/resource.

    Since the average person doesn’t know what a copywriter is and most of my work is web content, I’ve found it’s easiest to simply say something l like “I’m a web consultant” or simply “I’m a freelance writer.” They don’t know what that means either, but it’s quick and easy for someone to put into context of flexible schedules and being in a therapist’s office in the middle of a weekday.

    One thing I did to feel more professionally fulfilled was become an active parent advocate. My experience with writing technical documents, business presentations, public speaking, networking, etc. made it an easy fit, and you’d be surprised how many groups are looking for someone who can talk about, for instance, sensory issues in layman’s terms.

    • mbamommy said

      Michelle, thanks for the comment. I just recently read a blog post: http://runluaurun.com/2011/11/11/i-am/ from a SAHD who’s got one kiddo that’s PDD-NOS and one NT. Seems we’re not alone in our straddling multiple worlds.

      You and I do have a lot in common. I also do copywriting outside this blog, mostly web based/SEO but now my client is asking me to begin writing their press releases AND I put together ppt decks for presentations all the time. Would love to hear more about the groups looking for help!

      I like the “I’m a consultant” answer though. Nice, easy, flexible. ‘Nuf said.

      Good luck with your new addition and congrats!

  5. […] started another JOB. A part time, work at home opportunity with my previous client. This one is perfect. Just enough responsibility without requiring me to be on call 24/7. Minimal […]

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