Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What to do?

OK, I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Admittedly, I have what could be termed a rather full plate-2 young kids, a job that is more demanding than I want or care it to be, and just trying to hold myself together in spite of it all can be a full time occupation if allowed. I'm not even sure if anyone really reads this thing, and despite the fact that I have repeated to myself over and over again that I'm not Sally Field at the Oscars, and that this is just supposed to be my place to vent and rejoice as the situation calls for (albeit in a public forum), I'm wondering if I'm not just another boring voice contributing to the overall din of the internet. Am I just another one of those self-indulgent idiots that just types to read their own prose?

So, if you're out there, I could really use some chiming in on the situation I'm about to explain, because, quite honestly, I'm more than a bit in a quandry. The sad thing is, this is really one of the least of my problems, but it is the one that I can actively work on by myself and find some conclusion. At least I have some control-that's not the case in some of the other things that have been going on. But I digress.

As I mentioned a while ago, we've had a substantial shake-up in my department at work. I had thought/hoped/prayed that things would settle down and that we could all get back to just doing our work. The work loads are large-someone in a firm would most likely blanch and fall over. In a nutshell, we have waaaaaay too much to do to be engaged in high school theatrics. Apparently, I'm the only one who views it this way.

So, last week we were all in the same place for the first time since everything happened, including NewManager. He's still trying, with very limited success, at pulling all of this off. I don't know if he has any idea about the tumult going on around him. If he does, he's pulling the most adept acting job in the group. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that I'm wrong on that point. Regardless, one of the co-conspirators, DL, had been talking to me prior to the meeting, and kept telling me that a "bombshell" was in the works, but that honor and a promise to the third party to keep quiet prevented him from telling me what it was. I shopped around some theories, but none of them seemed very plausible. We have a small cast of characters here, soI couldn't for the life of me figure it out.

All was revealed to me by said third party on our last night; he's leaving to go join our former boss in Europe to take, what is in essence his dream job, working for someone who is very respected in our field. He's lived abroad before, his wife is European, and he wasn't interested in staying here to see what happens. I should have known that this was the case; he's usually not one to cause waves, but he had been pretty quiet, even for him, since this all broke open. I can't blame him. It is a great opportunity, and after being passed over for the job that NewManager has (at least provisionally for the time being), he didn't see the point in staying.

All of this will cause me considerable grief. Since our coverage areas were in the same technical area, but simply split up, I'll most likely end up with all of his cases. The portfolio isn't huge, but since I already have the second largest chunk (which should scare everyone, by the way) of the entire portfolio, adding more is not something either I or my admin are looking forward to. Secondly, he has substantial responsibilities in the support of a new business effort. This particular business unit is a challenge, and is still very much in flux. They are a conglomoration of small companies that we have acquired over the past two or three years, and to say that they aren't used to having in-house legal is an understatement. Honestly, it could/would be a lot of fun to handle-I like the challenge and getting in on the ground floor to help shape strategy and put processes in place. However, if piled on top of everything else that I have to deal with, it comes down to being stretched too thin-to the point of tearing.

OK, so it comes down to this. When I was in California, I told the head of the legal group about my concerns. I hope that he took me seriously, since I usually am the one that puts my head down and trys to make the best of whatever situation I'm in. One of the concerns was that with this change, the career advancement/growth that my manager and I had talked about was probably going to be hitting the skids. I've always had a problem with touting myself-I'm a great advocate for others or for a cause, but for me, not so much. The head of legal, K, told me that he had considered that I might fill the empty director's spot that NewManager had vacated. Part of me was thrilled, but the other part is worried that I won't be allowed to really manage the group, that NewManager, since the site used to be his baby, will micro-manage me into ineffectiveness. Oh, and the kicker? One of the other attorneys who is at that site has already said that he doesn't think that I deserve the position, since he's a far better lawyer than I am with more experience. In my defense, he may have more years, but since NewManager doesn't delegate anything, OtherAttorney hasn't seen half of what I have. It hurt to hear that. On top of some of the other things that I've been dealing with lately, it was enough to push me into a sniffle-fest on the drive home. What the hell do I have to do? Not like I'm not insecure enough about my abilities.

The other option is the director's position that will open up when my current manager, D, leaves. He's at another site, but if we could fill his position with a another lawyer, it wouldn't be a problem for me to take that spot and stay where I am. To me, this makes the most sense-I have a familiarity with the clients, and they with me. I wouldn't have to change technology focus (which I would have to in order to take NewManager's slot) and it would really be an easy transition. However, I'm not overly hopeful here. An email went out from NewManager today announcing D's departure at the end of the month, and that the powers that be were "analyzing" what the next steps would be. I wasn't in the office today, since I was home with BabyA due to a daycare lockout (she vomited twice yesterday, and she had to stay vomit-free for 24 hours before she could go back), so if anyone tried to get hold of me, they were out of luck.

So, what is my quandry? Well, it can be broken down to a couple of different things:
  • do I even want the job? It will require more time and effort, and I'm struggling as it is. However, part of the struggle has been from a lack of motivation. Why continue to bust my ass when I don't ever get anything resembling an 'atta girl? You can only continue to give for so long. It may be different if I can actually control my destiny, at least to some degree. It would also be fun to have a chance to expand my skill set with some new challenges. However, it may also mean more travel, which is not something I am prepared for right now. I know that we could make it work, but my babies....
  • what if I don't get one of them? There are a couple of openings at other companies in the metro. I've also been presented with an open door to work from home and write for one of my outside counsel. One of those deals where I work as much as I want to make. I'm just not so sure that I have the discipline to do that. There is also the down side of no benefits. I've been self-insured before, and well, it sucks.

I guess it comes down to having really been thinking about what I want-40 is looming, and what have I done? I used to be a rising star, and then things stalled out. Did I get complacent? Does it even matter anymore? I don't want to be absent from my kids, but there will be a point when they don't need me that much anymore, and then I'm afraid that when I look up, I'll be beyond the point of making anything of myself.

I just don't know what to do. Some of it is out of my hands, and that is the hardest thing to handle. I plan on kicking the tires on the other positions at the different companies, if anything to brush up on my interviewing skills (if I can even manage to get an interview-most places have a hard time with with me not having an engineering degree, one of those things expected from a patent attorney. I still think I'm doing pretty darn well as a self-taught engineer, thank you.). I just don't want to continue on continuing on. I think I may deserve more than that.


pithydithy said...

First off, I'm reading-- avidly at that. As another working mother trying to figure out how to do it all, I'm always lurking around to try to figure out how you manage so much. I'm sorry that I don't comment more-- the only time in the day when I get to read journals is typically in the evening when I come home and nurse Finn, and I'm just not that thrilled about one-handed typing.

As for your quandary, well, I don't know anything about being a patent attorney, so I don't feel very qualified to offer an opinion. Really, I think that writing all of that out was what you needed to do. At least for me that sort of exercise often makes me realize where my heart is leaning.

Kristina said...

First of all, I'm always reading :). I'm terrible about commenting, but I do always read.

As for your quandry... oh, this is tough.

It's the constant struggle working women face - advances at work always seem to mean less time at home. Which is so unfair, why does success have to mean more work!!!

I do understand - my manager is a planner and she's retiring in about 3.5 years and we're already working on succession planning. I can already see where it's going - I suspect my immediate supervisor will be taking her job, in which case there is a sort of sub-management level position available. And I'm already being trained for it, along with a couple of co-workers. The problem is I don't know if I want it... I really think that in 3.5 years, when Lochlan is in school, I want to work less, not more. Which means a different direction and one I'm not sure I want to communicate yet. It's so hard...

I don't know what you should do... to be honest you sound rushed, stressed and sad that you're not home with your kids more. So before taking any of these director positions you need to decide if the professional advancements are going to worth the time away. There will be less time at home, less time with the kids and more travelling. So you're adding a lot more stress and busy-ness to your life - is the reward of these positions worth it? That I can't answer.

However, looking for something lower key, working from home or something like that is moving in the opposite direction. Instead of continuing up the ladder, you'd be getting off it. And there are implications (financial, health care etc) but it would simplify your life, give you more time with your kids and eliminate some stress from your life. It's worth thinking about, maybe doing a couple of interviews and seeing how it goes.

The final comment is what to do if they don't offer you a director position. That I don't know - it depends on how important the directorship is to you or how important the recognition of your hard work is to you.

I'd start checking out other options so you can make the right choice for you. I'm not sure staying at this company in neessarily right for you. You're not glowing about your job, you're stressed about being away from your kids. Maybe there is a job situation that you can find that would balance things a little more.


Good luck, my friend! This is not easy stuff to figure out...

Lisa MaddieandBobsMom said...


I tried to comment yesterday but it wouldn't allow me to do so. You might have others reading that cannot comment. Did my comment ever come through to you? I am an attorney who has similar struggles with regard to the work/Mom balance. It's hard I don't envy you. I opened my own practice because I wanted the flexibility that my other job being an insurance defense litigator could not provide.

Looking forward to reading what you decide. I say follow your gut! You'll find the thing that will work for you and your family.

MaddieandBobsMom at TLOL

Angie said...

I am reading too! I don't comment much either but I promise to work on it.

As for your quandary...I'm afraid I don't know enough about being a patent attorney to give you any advice but much like pity, I think just writing it all out is something that you needed to do. Read over what you wrote and follow your gut (and your heart). Balancing motherhood and working is such a tough struggle, just know that you aren't alone and you are doing an awesome job. I hope someone chimes in with some better advice than I gave but I mainly just wanted you to know that I am reading!