This Woman's Work
May 17, 2011 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Please help me evaluate a possible career move while pregnant with child #2.

I've been in my current job for three years in the nonprofit sector. Due to financial constraints and general lack of enthusiasm at the institution, there have been no raises, no promotions, and no cost of living increases. There are elements of the job that I like, many others that I don't and I've been conflicted about the environment for quite sometime.

A new position has been posted internally. I'm somewhat interested and have been invited to apply by the manager. It would be a title and salary promotion, along with more responsibility but hours may be about what I'm putting in now (50 week, + evening/weekend). Of course, nothing is this simple:

1) Have a young child under 2, expecting #2 later this year. With #1, severe post-postpartum depression and anxiety at work following return. This has subsided but only recently. It was HARD coming back and I'm concerned this would happen again and hurt my performance. With two young children, how do professional women manage to stay career-minded while remaining present for kids?

2) Also, if I take the risk and get the job but decide it isn't right for me in a year, quitting means jeopardizing my childcare situation (that I LOVE) which is tied to the organization.

3) Because this is an internal move, I must declare my application to my supervisor. This will make my present position tenuous for many reasons, and if I don't get the job, I risk being perceived as someone who isn't committed to the position.

4) The new manager does not yet know I'm expecting, how/when/do I broach this in good faith?

5) If I ultimately decide that now isn't the time to make a move due to family concerns, how do I keep the door open with this manager who was interested in my application?

Apologies for how long and convoluted this is--this decision is fraught with all kinds of anxiety and conflict about wanting to be an accomplished, professional woman, yet remaining close to and available for my babies.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know why on earth someone in your situation would want to rock the boat, especially since you admit that you may find out that the new job isn't right for you. I don't know how large this salary promotion would be, but I'm having a hard time believing it would be worth the extra strain and variables you'd have to cope with, now of all possible times.
posted by hermitosis at 8:52 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

This doesn't really sound like your dream job here. I don't know if it's worth what you would be risking. What would change in the new job - not just salary and title, but what day to day things would improve?
posted by amicamentis at 9:05 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

It sounds like the idea of this new job and what that would mean to you in theory is overtaking the reality of having to navigate the real life consequences of it all. I hope the second child will be easier for you, but even if it is, you know for yourself that this next year won't be easy. Why add more complications when you don't need to?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:18 AM on May 17, 2011

1. Other career opportunities will arise. If you let this one pass by, it won't mean you're forsaking your career for your family forever; you're just prioritizing your family (and possibly your mental health and sense of security) for the moment.

2. At some point, almost everyone who decides to commit to a career in the non-profit sector has to deal with balancing the demands of their career (which are often relatively intense, time-consuming, and relatively poorly-compensated, in terms of salary) with their commitment to their spouse or family. This is a familiar problem that your manager has probably had to come to terms with, too, at some point. I worked at a not-for-profit organization for several years and spoke with many colleagues about this issue; I even brought it up at a meeting with Ralph Nader once, long, long ago. The fact is, it's an extremely difficult problem to reckon with, and one's choice is based on very personal, individual factors. There is nothing wrong with waiting until Baby #2 shows up (along with all of the attendant happinesses and complications) to assess your priorities carefully and make a considered choice that is best for you, your partner, and your kids.

3. Are you on friendly terms with the new manager? Perhaps it's possible to arrange an informal lunch meeting with him/her and express your interest in the position; you could treat the meeting as a sort of casual informational interview, find out more about the position and how, specifically, your responsibilities would change. You might have the opportunity to bring up the fact that the timing is not quite right for a career change. I think any reasonable manager will understand how one might wish to reach a stable family situation (in your case, have Baby #2) before one takes on a big career shift. During this brief meeting with the manager, you can begin to build a foundation for a good relationship down the line, when your family (and personal priorities) are more settled and you're sure you're ready to take on a more demanding position. As a person who has managed personnel in the past, I have never experienced an instance in which a potential hire going out of their way to get more information about a position has made me less confident of their aptitude and commitment.

Hope this helps. Good luck, and big congrats!
posted by Spinneret at 9:46 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

With #1, severe post-postpartum depression and anxiety at work following return...

...this decision is fraught with all kinds of anxiety and conflict about wanting to be an accomplished, professional woman, yet remaining close to and available for my babies.

These are what stood out to me more than anything. If you're susceptible to anxiety, then you need to tackle that first and foremost. Until you do, no decision you make is going to feel comfortable to you. You are already an accomplished professional woman, you are already a mommy; you have nothing to prove. Remaining steady with what you have in front of you is an admirable enough goal.
posted by hermitosis at 9:50 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sorry to double-post, but thought I'd add that this might be a great time for a meeting or two with a counselor or therapist. In the past, when I've been having trouble sorting out my personal goals priorities, seeing a good counselor has been an invaluable help to me. It just helps to get all of the emotions out in the open, with an objective listener, and figure out what I really want and what I'm willing to risk.
posted by Spinneret at 9:53 AM on May 17, 2011

goals and priorities
posted by Spinneret at 9:54 AM on May 17, 2011

Have you talked to a medical professional about the possibility of post-partum depression returning (not everyone gets it on the 2nd time around, see Dooce.)

What would you do for childcare if you leave the org.? Can you go back to your present job if the new one doesn't work out?
posted by Ideefixe at 11:34 AM on May 17, 2011

With two young children, how do professional women manage to stay career-minded while remaining present for kids?

The ones that I know that do it successfully have a partner with an extremely flexible schedule and/or employ a nanny among other household help or otherwise have some sort of 3rd adult in the household that can manage the 3 million Mommy things (doctors appointments, sick care, cleaning, researching options for schools).

tl;dr: they outsource
posted by k8t at 2:33 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, I believe that "it's a phase" works for grown ups as well as kids. This phase might not be about your career being number one right now. Give yourself a break and know that other opportunities will come up. In a year, you will look back and your life will be so different and in another year after that, it'll be different again as your kids get older.

This book really helped me see it: Chapters by Candice Carpenter.

Good luck!
posted by dawkins_7 at 9:02 AM on May 18, 2011

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