Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Daily Affirmations - Or, how I became a Stay at Home Mom and learned to love it

This post has been in the making for quite some time but I've never been able to bring myself to write it. After reading this and this and others like it I've decided now might be the right time. But what really pushed me over the edge was the royal blue foil wrapper that held the Dove chocolate that I was jonesing for the other night. If you haven't yet had one of these little beauties, on the inside of each wrapper is a "Promises Message". Think Stuart Smalley meets a fortune cookie. My message was "Find Your Passion" and it stuck with me for awhile. Silly, I know. Its like looking for the meaning of life in a Bazooka Joe gum wrapper. But stranger things have happened. Newton had his apple, Franklin had his kite. I have my chocolate wrapper. You see, I've found my passion - Twice. I had one taken from me, gained another, but now I want them both. I've been eating a lot of chocolate in the hopes of finding the wrapper that will tell me if that is possible.

To give you some background, a few years ago I was working for a Fortune 500 company (which I will refer to as the Really Big Technology Corporation, or RBT Corp. for short), making the most of my college degree, bringing in some decent money, and dreading every single day I had to go to the office. Most of my days were spent hating that damned job. Heavy emphasis on the word "job" because it was not my calling. I did not love, or even really like, what I was doing because it was not my...

Uh huh...

Passion.

It was no way to live, but at the time I had no other choice. I had pigeon-holed myself into this small niche in the technology/media sector and there were few places to go except onward and sideways in my current career choice. Then Fate, in her infinite wisdom, stepped in and dropped a bomb on me, as she is want to do from time to time. I received a job offer from an expatriate of the very same "RBT Corp." where I was currently wasting the best years of my life. The offer was to come work for him and his wife in their new business which catered to area pooches and their families. I was to be in charge of the start up and management of a division of this business which would fill a need that wasn't currently being successfully met in our neck of the woods. I was expected (or maybe I expected it of myself) to set the gold standard for canine socialization and I would be paid well, for that industry, for doing so.

(I know I'm being vague, but I have to watch out for the crazy Googlers who could easily stumble upon this blog if I were to spell out exactly what I did. Hang in there with me.)

How could I turn that offer down? Doing that type of work was something I had dreamed of for years and, with the support of my husband, now I had the opportunity to live that dream. It wasn't glamorous and there wasn't much room for advancement. I didn't get to wear Jimmy Choo's to the office. I did, however, go to work in comfortable jeans and a baseball cap. I got wet puppy kisses on a daily basis and played fetch for a living on top of my regular management responsibilities. I helped many an owner get to know their pampered pooch better and answered countless frantic questions on training away bad behaviors. And I saved a few dogs from the pound. That, to me, was worth its weight in designer clothes.

I was damn good at my new career and I helped my bosses build a very successful business. For two years I poured blood, sweat and tears (literally) into my work, fourteen hour days were common even deep into my 9th month of pregnancy. Up until a few days before my mother died - I was at work. During my first trimester of pregnancy when I lost an alarming amount of weight due to morning sickness - I was at work, often running back and forth from the bathroom so I wouldn't lose my breakfast in front of the customers. During the rest of my pregnancy, when I was on medication due to an extreme case of that same morning sickness that lasted all nine months - there I was, still at work against my doctor's gentle urging to slow down. In fact, I only missed one day of work in nine months due to a pregnancy-related sciatica when I couldn't have gotten out of bed if I tried. I ran myself ragged because I was passionate about what I was doing.

When the time came to talk about what was going to happen when I returned from my unpaid maternity leave, I sat my bosses down and told them I would come back part time because I couldn't afford full-time daycare on my salary. I had my portion of the business running so well that my resposibilities could be handled in a shorter amount of time and as a show of good faith I took a slight cut in pay. It was a win/win situation on both sides. I could continue working in a smaller capacity, allowing me time out of the house, and they would, ultimately, end up saving money. I thought we had a deal and I left to have my baby, but not before assuring all my favorite customers that I would, indeed, be back in two months.

Then Fate stepped in again and, in her divine will, shoved me out of my rosy haze. My baby was extremely colicky, she nursed every hour, and could only be soothed by me. When my maternity leave was up I tearfully handed her over to my mother-in-law and went back to work two days a week for 5 hours at a time. I assured my bosses that I would soon be working the agreed upon 20 to 25 hours, but right now no daycare could or would handle my infant and my MIL was already taking two days off from her job to babysit. The next two weeks were horrible. Chicky Baby hated taking a bottle and she cried most of the time I was away. I was forced to pump in the only place available at work - A small bathroom right off the lobby - and I ended up with an extreme case of mastitis that forced me to take time off from work so I could go to the doctor and get antibiotics. I still enjoyed my work, but I was beginning to dread those two days I would be away from my daughter. That's when Miss Fate, who up until that point was still being ignored, started kicking me in the gut while I was down.

After two weeks of working I received my first paycheck and stared upon what I thought was a clerical error. My paycheck was missing about a third of the pay that my bosses and I had agreed upon. Must be a mistake, I thought, so I left notes for my boss to correct it (she was, strangely, absent whenever I was working). The next week, there it wasn't again. After finally catching up with one of them I was told that since I wasn't working in the same capacity that I once was they had decided to cut my pay to reflect the change in job resposibilities.

But my responsibilities were the same, just less hours.

I wasn't informed ahead of time that they would be doing this.

I was being punished for running such a well-organized part of the business.

That amount of money would barely cover daycare.

All of my lawyer friends had the same advice for me, I could sue but it wouldn't get me far and it would cost me money and time. So I took the high road, I told them to enjoy running the business without me and I slinked away with my tail between my legs. After many sleepless nights and tear-filled days spent trying to get the knife out of my back I finally realized that Fate had been right all along. For me, being with my daughter was the place that I was supposed to be. She needed me far more than my back-stabbing bosses did and once I was comfortable with that realization I could finally enjoy my second passion: Being a Mom. And much like my previous career, I'm damn good at this new one. It was a choice that was made for me, but it was the right one - For me and my family.

Now the time has come to think about what's next. Chicky Baby isn't going to need me this much forever, I've got to get the ball rolling on my future and that means:

Starting my own business.

I've got the skills, the knowledge, and the desire... and since I took that high road and have continued to teach a few classes for the people who thought they didn't need me (but my spies on the inside tell me differently) I've got a customer base in the making. Its time to reclaim my passion.

But, this time, Fate can go take a long, needed rest. I'm not going to rely on her this time.

Although, I wonder if she could get me an appointment with her business partner, Luck?

32 comments:

rhonda said...

Wow, what a story. They really screwed you, and that just isn't right.

Mommy is a great job, and you are lucky to be doing that and only that.

I am jealous :)

HeatherJ said...

That is just so wrong. I am glad that you found your true passion, Miss Chicky herself. Look forward to seeing what is in store for you.

reluctant housewife said...

The bastards.

But Hooray for you! Good luck with your new venture- watch out world!

motherhooduncensored said...

I love this. And what a bunch of a-holes. It's amazing to me that people can be like that and many have kids themselves and are married TO WOMEN?

I think it's great that you want to start a business... Can't wait to hear more about it.

Having passion about what you do makes it SOOOOOOOOOOO much better.

Pattie said...

How disappointing for you.
I am glad that you are realizing that you have a passion, and that you have a desire to go after it.
So many people lose that insight along the way. Go for it!

liberalbanana said...

Is this new business going to be doggy related?? That would be my passion. Or just helping in general - people, animals, environment, whatever. Too bad that stuff doesn't pay as well as this nice boring government job I have. ( actually, can you get paid for eating chocolate and drinking wine? Now THAT would be my dream job. Screw helping others.) (Kidding.) (Kind of.)

Mrs. Chicky said...

Kristen - Sadly it was the WIFE whom I suspect was the deciding factor behind cutting my pay and forcing me out. Since I refused to be impressed with how much money she wasted on a daily basis she felt that I needed to be replaced by someone who would fawn over her. Unfortunately, she insists on pretending that she and I are still friendly whenever I see her. Two-faced bee-atch.

Heather said...

I'll chime in to say what I'm guessing your real-life lawyer friends are saying, and tell you to look at it as a breach of a contract and sue for the money they owe you. When and if you start your own business careful to make sure there wasn't a non-competition clause with your former boss.

I don't think there is a more important job than being a parent.

J's Mommy said...

If you get the number for Luck, please pass it on. We so need it here!

Kristen said...

Congrats on having the courage to follow your passion once again. I'm still working on that one. Afraid to fail I think.

Elizabeth said...

That's an incredible story. It sounds like you'll be very successful in your own business, now that you know what NOT to do.

I linked to you today because there seems to be a theme going of photos of babies in big sunglasses! I posted one and so did Jen at Once More With Feeling. Chicky Baby is SO CUTE!

SUEB0B said...

I wish you all the luck you deserve. You can help train me to not use a retractable leash on my sighthound LOL

Izzy said...

Wow! Seems fate knew all along where you should be. I really love that. It's in keeping with everything I believe about life.

And the colic. Accckkk! A recurring theme, it seems.

Good luck and I hope you can speak more candidly about your work in the future!

sunshine scribe said...

Okay, so I knew there was a reason why I liked you. Loved this post. Sorry you had such awful bosses but in the end, how great that their asswholeness (is that a word? it is now), caused you to find your real passion!

I am so excited to hear about you starting your own business. Very cool and if you are passionate about it there will be no limits. I am currently in a state where I am toying with the same thing and I look forward to hearing all about your adventure :)

Her Bad Mother said...

Way. To. Go.

I'm so glad that you told this story. End of the day, what matters is that we land on our feet and hit the ground running. And if that's running after toddlers or rolling babies - does any job require one to be faster on her feet? - what better race is there? But to be going further and insisting upon having everything that you want - happy life with Chicky Baby *and* Super Cool Mrs. Chicky Enterprises - that's truly awesome and inspiring.

Am I rah-rahing too much here? Heaping too much sisterly love and praise? Must have laced my coffee with KoolAid this morning...

mothergoosemouse said...

Wow. We were certainly in synch with our posts yesterday, weren't we?

Ditto the passion. Although I am really good at my job and I apply those skills both at work and at home (do you know anyone else who made a Gantt chart during her pregnancies and for her cross-country move?), I don't feel as if what I do really makes a difference. I don't yet feel like a corporate drone, but I'm not far off.

Your canine socialization job reminds me of a place on the upper east side of Manhattan that we used to pass on our walks. Tons of dogs, racing around an indoor obstacle course, having a fantastic time. And the trainers? Both Kyle and I were so envious of how much fun they were having with all those dogs.

I'm sorry about how you got screwed. You know I can really empathize. And I wish you all the best in finding your passion.

Kristin said...

i am a hater of the mrs. chicky-ex-employers (may dogs nip at their heels!)... however, chicky baby is so delicious, and even cuter than puppy love, it was a blessing-through-screwing.

Carrcakes said...

If I had a post award I would it give it to you for this post. It was great that fate so deliberately set the path for you and your eyes were open wide enough to follow. I feel like I got to know you more in this post and I hope you update us on your business progress.

Sidenote: our pregnancies were very similar. I too pretty much puked from conception till delivery.

something blue said...

Your previous employers really missed the mark. They had a devoted, passionate employee that improved their business. I'm sure that it is not the same without you.

Chicky Baby won and you won too. I hope your new business is extremely successful and that you find Fate and Luck's cousin... Happiness!

Kvetch said...

I had a somewhat similar experience when my daughter was born almost 11 years ago...the people I was working for sent me a letter outlining my new responsibilites for when I came back to work - never having discussed any of it with me. Things that a young mother with two young children, one being an infant, could never do. So they set me up to have to resign. And this was a religious organization. How 'bout that???

Christina said...

Isn't it amazing how many of us have stories of being forced out of our jobs, encouraged to quit, or just screwed via pay or benefits? I wish there were stronger laws protecting new moms.

But it sounds like it all worked out for the best for you. I'm so excited you're starting your own business! I think you'll do very well, and customers will go to the people who treat them right, and I'm sure you'll treat them better than your former employer does!

Tori said...

Don't you just love the bosses who are totally unsmpathetic to new moms. They just don't bloody get it! My husband's boss is the same. Unless you're in it - you don't get it!
Go Chicky go in your new business venture! Dust off the Choo's or baseball cap, write up a proposal and put yourself out there...
You can do it - even more so now with the confidence of your other passion - mothering - flowing through your veins....
My God - baby Chicky is quite the most edible baby I have seen for some time....
Keep her away or I might snack on one of those cheeks!

Wendy said...

The same thing happened to me, Chicky..it sucks but now I look back on it as fate and a blessing - thank god they treated me like crap so i could go be with my son - even without the money and even WITH the struggle, it was so worth it in the end...great post, hon..i really related..

Blog Antagonist said...

Wow, I have a similar story, and similar take on it. I was damn mad when it happened, but now I see that it was really for the best. I probably wouldn't have made the decision on my own. Good for your for reclaiming your passion, and all the best in getting your business off the ground.

Jess Riley said...

That's terrible how you were treated; but I'm so happy and excited for you as you follow your passion in the new business venture! Good luck; it sounds like you've got the skills and knowledge to make it a smashing success. :) (I am also curious: is it dog-oriented?)

mo-wo said...

Fantastic. Good luck with the Mom Ambition. It may not be 'supportive' but I am glad in a way that fate conspired to have you home all that while with CCB. I guess your post title says it all.

Bobita said...

I sooo loved this post!

Best of LUCK to you! Take that passion...and run with it...run right into your own business!!

sweatpantsmom said...

You will never regret starting your own business.

I started mine when I was young (22) and I've never looked back. There have been some rough times, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. It has enabled me to have a career and still be home with my children.

You'll work harder than you've ever worked before, for longer hours than you've ever worked before, and sometimes for less money than you've ever made before.

But it will be worth every second. I promise.

Jamie said...

I just found your blog through Mama C-ta's blogroll. It sounds like you have the passion and talent needed to start your own business after some incredibly frustrating times in your career. So I am joining the cheering section by saying what you already know you need to do: "Go for it!" You won't regret it. Chicky Baby is adorable, by the way. :)

CroutonBoy said...

Wow, you've been through some crap, haven't you. Some people have a hard time with loyalty and honor, don't they...

But it sounds like this could have a happy ending! Starting a business it hard work, but it sounds like you've got some mad skillz and a plan, which, with perseverence, is usually all it takes.

Good luck, and I look forward to reading about your growing success!

Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chaotic Mom said...

Yeah! I LOVED reading this chronology of what you've been through. I'm working on doing something different, too. Something I had put down YEARS ago, a passion, and can't wait for FATE, either. ;)