Monday, February 16, 2009

How Good is Good Enough?

(or: Who Gets the Shaft?)

I admit to being constitutionally lazy. But I am also a bit compulsive, and I don't like to leave things undone.

Today is a state and national holiday, but as a part-time state employee I only get 4.8 hours of holiday pay. To make up the rest of the day, I am working for several hours this morning. While working, I sent an email about an ongoing project to one of my bosses. I knew she was working today too. (The legislature is in session, so she is on the hook in case they want anything from our office. Nice boss that she is, she is taking this on personally rather than delegating to one of the staff so she could sleep in.) The boss, seeing I am working, emails to ask if I can attend a meeting tomorrow to talk to a key legislative staffer about some work I did.

So can I? I don't usually work on Tuesdays, which means I do not have established child care. But. I hate to let this woman down, and I hate not to be there to talk about my work. On the other hand, the legislative staffer already found one flaw in my analysis - I overlooked a section of bill that established a fund I suggested the bill be amended to establish. Easy to fix (and frankly, easy to overlook in a bill that stretches over 200 pages) but now I am nervous about what else I have missed. So now I am going back through the work to make sure it is not deeply flawed in other ways.

So do I ask my regular babysitter to be with Ada for half a day so that I can drive down to the capitol for a one hour meeting? Or do I tell my boss I can't come and just have her debrief with me on Wednesday? My guilt is compounded by the fact that I can't be in the office at all this week, in part because Chris has jury duty and can not take Ada to nursery school as he normally would.

Do I shaft my work with a lame "I don't work on Tuesdays" or do I shaft my child, knowing that she is deep into a "I need mama" period that will be abruptly interrupted when the twins arrive?  The latter option also shafts me to some extent, stretching my workweek and eliminating the daily nap I am realizing is increasingly necessarily to my mood and ability to function. But I am proud of my status as a professional woman, and in a deep and irrational way want everyone I interact with at work to see me as a talented, can-do person.

Oy. What would you do?


  1. Do you have to be there in person or can you phone in? If you can't I would stick with the "I don't have daycare."

  2. Phoning in would still require child care. Ada is not amenable to me being close but not paying attention to her!

  3. The ambitious part of me would opt to attend the meeting, but the life-balancing mother in me would say, "I don't do Tuesdays." Unless you're really unsatisfied with your current work situation and want to stretch more hours to change things, I'd tell her no.

    Hard choice!

  4. So there's no option of rescheduling the meeting for Wednesday?

    I don't really know how big a deal a key legislative staffer is to your career, but if it's someone you don't usually work with, who doesn't already know you and your work ethic, I'd go, since you never know where some extra good will out there might lead you.

  5. In my full-time working days, I would have arranged child care and gone to the meeting and then been distracted by how guilty I felt. Or I would have stayed home with my kid and felt guilty about missing the meeting and letting down the boss. In other words, I am not very helpful to you but I would definitely go with the guilt. ;-)

  6. I just wanted to clarify that I wasn't implying that you should feel guilty about working (or not), just that some of us are inclined to feel guilty about many things (I am!) and that motherhood just compounds the opportunities to feel guilty.
    There. I feel better. Didn't want to spend my day feeling guilty about making you feel guilty.
    I'll feel guilty about something else instead.

  7. Ugh. I wish I'd read this earlier. I am childcareless today and could have had Ada over to play with Milo. Ugh. Sorry.

  8. Honestly, I would go, in an effort to build up a stack of chips to call in later, after the twins are born and you need them.

    And I would try to get comp time so that I could take off part of another day -- guilt free!

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  10. Urk. It's one day. I'd go. I know that received wisdom would say "And what if there's another Tuesday, and another...?" But the reality is that there are always exceptions and being a working parent means managing them in a balanced way. Given that you're half way through Tues by now, I hope you found a way through that worked!

  11. Amazingly, no one was shafted. On Monday afternoon my boss called to say the meeting was going to be no longer than a half-hour to fit into her schedule. Once I heard that I decided to skip it.

    Today the boss called on her way out of the meeting to say that it went well, and that the document I revised in advance of the meeting helped a lot to calm the cranky legislative staffer.

    So I get some points at least for good work and I did not have to drive an hour each way for a half-hour meeting.