Happy Days Are Here Again

Putting family first doesn't mean you can't have a career you love.


A few months ago, I wrote this column about and the feedback was heartwarming. The return to Corporate America after three years in a flexible, home office sales position had me nervous about the adjustment. I got more emails and comments than I ever have, probably because my story had struck a nerve with so many working parents who experience the juggle on a daily basis.

Since the end of October, I’ve struggled with my decision. The hours were long, I never felt comfortable in that corporate culture and fought back tears every week. I wasn’t eating or sleeping and worst of all, I felt like an absentee mother and wife.

Although I kept telling myself that I had to stick it out for at least a year, I missed my family and started to fear that I just couldn’t do it. I decided to throw a Hail Mary pass.

Thanks to an insane amount of luck, it was caught.

I have had the good fortune to return to advertising sales – a job I’m good at, a job I love, and one that allows me work full-time and still feel like a good mother.

I’m working for great women who are smart and successful, and representing really fun magazines like Entertainment Weekly and Elle Décor. I am back in my home office and although it’s a lot of work, it’s fun work and it’s something I know I can do.

In other words, I’ve got my mojo back.

I was concerned about what a quick jump in jobs would say about me. You see, I was brought up being taught that you finish what you start, no matter how much you may not want to. My parents had always insisted that if you make a commitment, you stick with it; you have a responsibility and when others are counting on you, you have to make good on that.

However, it became clear to me by two months into the new job that I had it backward. While I kept telling myself that I had a responsibility to the bank, it was the four at home that I should have been most concerned with.

My first priority was my family, and if I hardly saw them during the week and was constantly stressed out on the weekends then “my responsibility” was to figure out a way to take care of them.

I had a long talk with Ben and Georgia about how I would be starting a new job where I would have a home office working for magazines like I used to. They were so happy, as they told me that they had missed me when I was in Boston. I explained to them that it’s O.K. to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Although the job in Boston was what I thought would be the best decision for us, I realized that I had been wrong and so I figured out a solution. I don’t know if they understood anything more than “we’ll actually get to see Mommy again,” but I knew it was worth talking about. Even if it was for my own benefit.

And so, I’m back. This Tireless Mom is no less tired or busy, but I feel like I’m in control of things again.

If I have learned anything during this experience, it’s that you don’t have to pick between family and career; it is absolutely possible to balance the two and do a great job at both. When you’re happy in one, there’s a good chance you’ll be successful at the other.

Joan Jolley March 14, 2012 at 01:21 PM
A nice story and a good decision. Congrats and welcome home.
Susan Webster March 14, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Alex Shumway March 15, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Thank you so much...it's great to be back!
Lynne Hunter March 16, 2012 at 01:55 AM
So happy for you.. Just makes me all the more sure it is the right path for me too. Glad to have you back in the ad realm with us!
Fred Civian March 17, 2012 at 09:05 PM
On one hand . . . "The hours were long, . . . I wasn’t eating or sleeping and worst of all, I felt like an absentee mother and wife." On the other hand . . . "you don’t have to pick between family and career; it is absolutely possible to balance the two and do a great job at both." You CAN have it all . . . you just can't have it all at once :-) Welcome back, neighbor.


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