Like many in the development industry, our company has struggled through this economic crisis. We've looked for new clients, spoiled old clients and done all we can to hang in there. Still, two weeks ago we had to let a huge number of people go. Some of them had great places to go; many of them didn't. We just didn't have enough work to keep them going. I'm sure few of them were surprised, but it doesn't make it hurt less for any of us. To avoid more layoffs and keep us at a level that we can still pay our bills, some of us were asked to go to a 32 hour work week--including me. I start tomorrow.
For me, this is a God-send. Since I went back to full time work two years ago, I've wrestled constantly with the fact that my kids need more than 2 hours of my time each day and the fact that an engineer is usually expected to keep lawyer's hours. My own boss is nowhere near that demanding, but I have expectations about what I need to be able to do the job well. I've read time management gurus talking about "crunching your can" (doing more because you set a tight time boundary and made your time more effective), but I don't know that it really works that way. Another part of the job is the connection between people. (whine, whine...)
The truth is, keeping track of two kids, both with their own special needs, is a full time job on its own. Even if they didn't have struggles beyond most ordinary kids, they deserve more than 2 or 3 hours a day from their mom. The deserve more than that from their Dad. It doesn't always work that way. Guilt is an ordinary part of parenting, but after awhile you really get down to the fact that you are just guilty, you don't just feel guilty.
People all over the world work hard; many harder than we do and for much less. Still, it seems like most of them get to do that alongside their kids and it makes it a little more sane. I love my children and I miss them. When you do head work, it's harder to find ways to include them in it. Dropping to 32 hours a week means that I can log the hard hours early in the morning a few days a week and pick them up myself after school every day. I still won't be able to be class mom or volunteer for field trips, but at least I'll be able to spend the 2 hours doing homework that they need and still have some time left to cook a healthy meal, teach them to keep a house straight or just have some fun. The money will be less, but that's ok. I don't know that we could break even without my work, but losing that 8 hours won't kill our finances and I'll get to enjoy this time in their lives instead of forever regretting missing it.
I have my hesitations. Will I get ignored or passed over? Maybe. Will people forget to give me work and cost me my job? Possible. Will I even be able to keep house at all? I didn't do that very well before...
After PJ was born, I had not planned on going back to work until they were in college. When the Lord convinced me that it was in His plan, I went back, but my agreement with Him was as follows:
You are the boss
You send the work
I do what you send
I'm not looking for work.
Part of my job description now is to look for work, so that last part has gone by the wayside, but the first three definately still hold true. I haven't run out of work, though I have come close at times. Even if I lose my job entirely, I know my God, my friend, will take care of me, though it may not be as comfortable as we are now. He still blesses my work but I'm delighted that He cares enough about my children to allow these limits that they need so desperately. We're going to be ok--probably even better than before.