Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Home Alone

I'm really sleepy, but I know I won't be sleeping for hours. My child and husband will be asleep in an hour or so, but I will stay up for a few hours more. This is typical. The nights are mine. One thing I like to do late at night is to work, doing downloads and pivot tables as the TV plays whatever just to keep me awake. I feel that it's free time and I can get ahead and get things done. With my work, usually I feel like the miller's daughter, spinning, spinning, spinning through the night to turn the straw into gold as I turn the data into useful information, trying to solve the questions of the day. (In reality, Rumplestilskin did the actual spinning in return for a promise of a child, but I think that's a little to close so let's not explore that.) Spin, spin, spin, pivot, pivot, pivot, doing my magic to pay the bills and try to stay a star. It's hard to show how I'm working when I'm working from home, so it's all about results.

Speaking of results, I remember when I worked for Arthur Andersen. I was struggling with the 70 hour weeks and the total mind numbing activities of audit. Do everything the same way it was done last year. Creativity is shunned. I HATED that job. It was just something I had to get through because for a finance person it is important to work for a large accounting firm, or so I'd been told. Anyways, a partner told me that the only thing that mattered were results, not effort. It didn't matter if it took me hours or minutes, only that I got the right result. This stuck with me because to me it's from the effort that we learn and we grow. He, of course, had no interest in my growth, just my potential to complete audits and bill clients. I think Arthur's eventual implosion was caused by such an overemphasis on result, causing them to overlook the process. A year after I left the firm, Arthur went down in flames. I still laugh every time I think about it.

But working from home, my company can't see my efforts, only the results. Sometimes this has meant assigning me more than I could possibly do. Sometimes I have worked overnight doing it anyways, in a desire to please and be magical. My boss lets me work at home because she thinks I'm a star, so I have to keep her under that delusion. It's not easy. Spin, spin, spin.

Lately I've really hated working from home. I've been doing it ever since my daughter J was born 3 1/2 years ago. I could make a lot more working in an office, and move ahead a lot faster. I actually miss meetings. I had to give up my big office with the window and little conference table. I still have an office there which I've tried to make cozy, but it's not as sunny nor as large. I guess it's good to just have one considering I'm only there a few days a month, but still... I miss wearing my suits and driving downtown. Now I'm a magical black box. Insert requests, spit out results.

So why do I continue to work from home? Because being able to work from home while J was a baby was the best thing ever. I got to be with her all day every day, and still use the work side of my brain and bring in a good salary. I had everything but sleep and I felt very grateful. I've been trying to get pregnant for 3 years, knowing I could be at home with the baby while working. I'm in a holding pattern so that I will be ready for the day I'm pregnant. Why don't I go back to the office in the meantime? Because I live 12 hours from my work. I fly there twice a month for a few days. To go back to the office would mean moving back or getting a job here. Once I do either, working from home will no longer be available. It's hard to explain. I didn't think I'd be doing it this long because I figured I'd have had another baby by now or would have accepted my only child and gone back to the office. Instead I'm still waiting and it's wearing on me. I'm not feeling so grateful anymore.

What I have done is go back to school for my MBA. It's tied me to this area until graduation but it should be well worth it. I'm in an evening program with 1 year out of 3 done. It's an expensive way to get to hang out with other business people. Once I'm done, I'm going back into the office. IF I get pregnant in July from the IVF, I will be pregnant during year 2 of the program, and able to be working from home with baby for year 3. I've been thinking of quitting my job at the end of the pregnancy and not working again until after I graduate, but it depends on money, of course. I think on my resume it would be okay because they could assume the time off was for school rather than for a baby. But first I have to get pregnant. My time to spend with this unconceivable baby is shrinking the longer this process takes. All these plans guarantee that it won't happen. I should stop.


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