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Never Say Never

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For twenty years, I worked steadily and diligently, climbing the ladder to a director-level job at a top company in my field. I swore I'd never live in the suburbs or drive a minivan, not me. Then I married and had several children and found myself exactly there. Commuting from a suburban home, I found the transition from single working woman, to mom-of-three with a husband whose job took him on the road three of four weeks a month, to be overwhelmingly unsatisfying. I surprised myself by discovering I didn't want to miss all of the little firsts that were happening for my toddler, that I wanted to be the one to take my middle son to a reading specialist, and that I ought to be around to catch the daily download from my oldest as he navigated middle school. So I became a member of the work-at-home mom army, doing bits and pieces of jobs that had been tangential to my previous executive life. Not having to commute? Wonderful. No endless run-on meetings? Bliss. Working at my most productive times? (Not always 9-to-5.) You can guess: heaven. I extolled the virtues of my home office, my flexible schedule, and my connection both to home and to professional life, rather than the either/or choice I'd been making up until then. I swore I'd never commute again. I felt deeply satisfied and balanced in those years.

Twenty years of professional life goes very slowly when you're young. Ten years of work-at-home life goes much, much faster when you're … ahem … ten years older to start. In these last ten years, my youngest child turned thirteen. Bound for high school. And the older two? In college. Unfathomable from where I had stood, as three little kids came rushing at me the moment I entered the house from my big city job, feeling defeated by the very poor juggling job I believed I was doing. Now, many nights, it's just the teenager and me, eating parallel dinners while he reads a book and I read the paper. While I wouldn't trade those years at home for all of the company cars in the world, I wonder why I never thought of this when I made that career choice so many years ago. I never realized I would not continue to feel as satisfied being the work-at-home mom of one child as I did with three. 

So, once again my old motto of “never say never” is coming back to bite me. I have to admit, I even have days where I'd love to be pulled into a long, all-hands-on-deck “we just want to see your face” meeting where everyone surreptitiously checks their iPhones under the boardroom table. Now that very well might be bliss.


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