Geekamama


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Back to geekland

On the last workday of April, I left my previous job. On the last workday of May, I was offered a new one. I’ve accepted it, and will start work next Monday, once again testing software, but at a different company than before.  I’m looking forward to getting back into the work world. Our house is in a wooded neighborhood a dozen miles from the nearest town, and can feel very isolated at times. On the other hand, there are a couple of things I think I’ll miss from this past month and a half.

Above all, I’ll miss being able to stay on top of the clutter. Before, when I was working, our evening routine went something like this: come home, make dinner, give Kiddo a bath if he needed it, put him to bed, and then collapse in front of the TV. It was hard to do a lot of cleaning up right after Kiddo’s gone to bed because his bedroom is close to the kitchen and living room, so loud noises like vacuuming or clattering pots being put away would keep him from falling asleep. Even harder was putting down the remote to do the chores once we’d been sucked into TV watching for the night. While at home these past weeks I’ve done what I could to get the house to a cleaner “base level” in the hopes it would make daily tidying less of a burden, but I don’t know how long we’ll be able to maintain it.

I’ll also miss having time to cook interesting dinners. We pick Kiddo up from daycare around 6:15 p.m. and our drive home from there usually takes half an hour or more. This means anything beyond quick-prep dinners pushed dinnertime (and consequently, bedtime) even later. It didn’t help that we often didn’t decide on that night’s dinner until right before leaving work. Whoever wasn’t on pickup duty was in charge of arranging for dinner, whether that meant shopping or just hitting the local Panera. But that also meant a delay in getting home and getting it started.

I’m a little bummed that I didn’t get to all the projects I wanted to do. I’ve found that I’m something of a structured procrastinator, so I have gotten a fair amount of other work done, but the basement is still a mess, the recipes never got organized, the software project I’d meant to work on with a friend hasn’t gotten further than the design stage. Writing a non-prioritized weekly to-do list helped a lot; the weekly deadline let me push things back a day without feeling like I’d failed to get everything done, and I could rearrange things as needed–for example, I couldn’t sweep the deck very well in the pouring rain, so that had to wait for a good-weather day.

So, I’ve been thinking a bit about how to keep some of my at-home work to continue into the summer and beyond. Planning meals and shopping on the weekends might save us a little time in the evenings, and perhaps we could do some prep for the next night’s dinner after the boy has gone to bed. Chopping onions isn’t as noisy as washing dishes, after all. We might also be able to streamline our getting-out-of-the-house routine in the morning, in the hopes that leaving for work earlier means coming home earlier as well.

Could we do some of the noisy chores like vacuuming right after getting home from work? Maybe, if Kiddo were a little older. Right now he loves being underfoot while we’re cooking, which often means whoever’s not cooking is on distraction detail. In the past, I’ve asked my husband to take care of the vacuuming before he left for work (he generally went in later than we did) but that would cut into his worktime, meaning he had to either stay later at the office, or bring work home. Maybe it’s time to dust off and empty out that Roomba — or just get a quieter vacuum cleaner.

Having the weekly list in a visible place could also be helpful. I’ve found that when I have a visual reminder of what needs to be done, it’s a little easier to find the time to do small chores, and I can budget time for big ones. And it will help my husband as well, who has reminded me countless times that his psychic powers are very weak. This way we’ll be in sync about what needs to get done that week.

I don’t know about those projects, though. The obvious time to do them would be on weekends, but during the summer we rarely have a weekend free. Perhaps they’ll just have to wait until this fall, when we might have to find a new way to fill Sunday afternoons.


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Guest appearance!

I’m guest blogging today at Tales of an Unlikely Mother.  Darlena asked me to describe what it’s been like for me this past month, changing from working a nine-to-five* job to staying home all day.  I’ve gotta admit, it wasn’t entirely what I expected!

* OK, we all know it was rarely a nine-to-five job. Software engineers in the office at nine a.m.? Leaving the office at five? Unheard of! 😉


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You can take the Mama out of the Geek world…

It’s been nearly twelve years that I’ve worked for my current employer, a software company that I suspect most of you are all too familiar with.  Earlier this month, spurred in part by the seizures and in part by a few personal factors, I decided it was time to leave.  I’m fortunate in many ways; I have the full support of my husband and family in doing this, and we have the means (and medical insurance) such that I can afford to take a couple weeks of down time before jumping back in to the workforce.  It was not an easy decision to make, but from the way I’ve been feeling since putting in my notice, I can’t help but be convinced that this was the right choice to make for now.

Many years ago, when my  previous husband and I were divorcing and I had to start breaking the news to people, I did so with expectations that people would be disappointed in me for not being able to make it work. Instead, I received almost unanimous support from family, friends and co-workers. I thought I was going to hear things like “Have you tried [something else]?” or be told that I was giving up, not trying as hard as I should have.  Instead, I heard things like “I’m so glad! You deserve to be happy,” and “Kudos for making a tough decision!”

This past week, as I’ve been telling my friends and co-workers that I’m ending my working relationship, I’ve realized that I had similar expectations about their reactions.  I worried that people would question my decision, or ask whether I had done everything I could to make things work out. And once again, I’ve realized that I haven’t been giving them enough credit.  Once again, I’m hearing nothing but supportive comments.  My friends and family know I’ve been unhappy here for quite a while, long enough that it’s worn me down physically and emotionally. They probably also know that I’ve stubborn and hate to admit defeat, so it’s not too surprising that it took something drastic to make me realize what was happening. Walking away from a decent salary and a prime slate of benefits seems a little crazy, especially in this economy.  Working here was right for me for many years, and it was through my job that I met many of those friends (one who later became my husband).  But even good relationships can go sour under certain circumstances.  Sometimes it’s possible to put things right.  Other times, the price of staying outweighs the benefits.

I’m an engineer at heart, so I have to analyze. In looking at the similarities between the two “breakups,” I’ve been trying to understand why my first instinct is to brace for criticism and disapproval.  The best I’ve come up with is that it’s the criticism and disapproval that I feel myself. Is this really the right decision? Could I have found a way to make it work if I’d just looked a little harder or put more effort into it?  Clearly I’ve failed somehow, and surely it must be my own fault.  After all, hundreds of other woman, mothers of young children, are able to pull off the necessary balance of effort needed to succeed in the workforce, and even in this high-intensity company.  If they can do it, there’s no reason I shouldn’t have been able to as well.

But frankly, if I’m going to send my Kiddo off to the care of someone else five days a week, it really should be so that I can do something I love and find fulfilling, rather than something that’s going to drag me down or even leave me in tears at the end of a too-long workday.  The people who care about me are able to see that, and I can certainly stand behind it when it applies to other people. I just don’t do as well acknowledging it for myself.

The support and love I’ve gotten from the people close to me as I’ve made this decision has been more than I expected.  As my husband loves to remind me, I am more than just my job title.  Yes, it’s been an integral part of my identity for a very long time, but just as I’m more than a mom, more than a wife, more than a puzzle solver or a blog writer, I’m also more than what’s on my business card. I’m greater than the sum of my many hats–and now, it’s time to try on a new one.