Thursday, July 3, 2008

It's A Work Call

My heart is pounding. I just got off the phone with a senior government official regarding a work matter. The fact that she's called me today means that this is a critical issue for the government and for my company. She said she couldn't discuss the full matter right now but could she call me back in an hour. I said yes. I then sat back down on the lawn chair and continued to watch my son play in the sandbox with his friend. I'm not officially working today but when you're a part time working mom, you know that there is no real "day off." At any moment you might have to switch gears.

I always find those moments surreal. When work and family intersect with such force. My heart is still pounding but as I watch my son play, it takes me a few seconds to remember why. Oh, yes, the important work matter. There was a time not long ago when I would have gone into a total tail spin if something like this happened. I would have scooped up my son and gone right home so I could get "on-line" and start making calls. I would put the work first. I would worry myself silly thinking about how the important matter de jour would play out and how I could help fix it. You see, I'm a FIXER. I take things on and I fix them. That's just what I do. I latch on to the issue with my teeth like a bulldog and don't let go until I've finished it off. Or that's what I used to do.

Today, I stayed in the lawn chair and let my son keep playing with his friend. As my mind was racing about the matter and how it would play out, my face and body sat relaxed and talked with my friend whose house we were invited to for the play date. About half an hour later, my son and I walked home holding hands. A short time after lunch, I got the call and switched full force from mommy to professional. The issue was hard and I had to make some difficult decisions and phone calls. Then I started the worrying. I had done all I could for work but my heart kept pounding and my mind kept racing.

Then I remembered all the times that a "critical" issue had popped up on one of my days off and I wasted hours worrying in front of my computer screen or checking my blackberry just to find out the next day that it had resolved itself somehow. Well, today I was not going to let that happen. I forced myself to rethink my usual routine in these situations. So I sat down with my son and started to help him build a giant tower with his favorite widgets!

Every time the "thoughts" crept into my head, I looked at my son and forced my mind to think of him instead of the work. Sometimes I would succeed and other times I failed.

In the end, I'm just happy that I succeeded part of the time and build one kick-ass tower with my son!


  1. Wow! I think all working moms (and dads?) can relate to this one! One thing is for sure, after having kids, you tend to not sweat the small stuff (or at least sweat the small stuff less...) and you really learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff! Unfortunately (or not) i learned the hard way (e.g. decided not to go to a holiday party where i could have watched my son make reindeer horns and dance around like Rudolph because i thought i had to take care of a work "issue" that in the end was a non-issue). However, i have learned overtime that if i am to error in the future it is on the side of spending quality time with my children/friends/family as i do believe and remind myself often that when i leave this earth (knock on wood), i will not wish that i had spent more time at the office, but will be thankful that i had spent more time with my children/family/friends!!!!!

  2. God - can I relate to this. I'm in Key West with my oldest visiting my parents because my mother is seriously ill...and yet I still worry about how this week will set me back at work. I don't think about it very much obviously - but every once in a while, the though creeps in and reminds me that I have this hanging over my head. I've gotten very good at putting work aside for family (almost a little too good sometimes...) But it never really disappears when we're not there - does it?

  3. good for you!! That is so great that you were able to keep your cool for both situations!