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To feel left behind

(68 Posts)
leftbehind Mon 09-Oct-17 17:17:16

I'm a highly qualified person in a professional, challenging, interesting (but often stressful) role. My performance feedback is always top notch. I work part-time 3 days a week with one from home. On the days I commute in I travel 90 minutes each way.

I have two young DC. One in primary and one toddler. Toddler is in nursery 3 days a week and DC1 goes to after school club. I have a wonderful supportive partner. Share housework and childcare 50/50 (he drops/picks up twice a week as well as doing lions share of childcare at weekends). He is in the same profession but more senior than me (qualified longer than me). We agreed I'd go part-time after having DC1. I realise I'm very lucky to have this balance in my life. I've been happy with it until this last few weeks and I'm trying to understand why. I feel quite confused.

Two younger female colleagues (both no children at the moment) have recently been promoted above me (but I didn't apply for these jobs and didn't seriously consider doing so). I've also had to fight quite hard for access to training opportunities which seem to be constantly scheduled on the days I don't work.

It's hard to explain but I feel like the rather dull dependable safe pair of matronly hands that will get on with the workaday tasks whilst the other more dynamic younger women bound ahead. Ten years ago I would have been the dynamic one. If I don't want more hours and the stress that promotion brings why do I feel so sad?

I'm probably not making much sense.

My immediate boss is fantastic. My age with young children but she had to up her hours when she was made senior and she is run ragged a lot of the time. On the one hand I don't want the added stress and pressure and the longer hours with less time for my children - but on the other I just feel a bit empty and, well, left behind.

Sorry for the essay.

StealthPolarBear Mon 09-Oct-17 17:26:19

Is upping your hours an option?
Sounds like you are ambitious

BeansandSausages Mon 09-Oct-17 17:30:27

I feel you. It's getting used to the new normal. You obviously shouldn't be left out of any opportunities that a ft person has. Speak to your boss to stress you're still willing and capable to do challenging things, but in the time you have. They can hopefully juggle the jobs somehow.

leftbehind Mon 09-Oct-17 17:35:16

I could up my hours but I worry about upsetting the finely tuned balance of work/home that we've been lucky to achieve. I don't know anyone else in my profession that gets to work two days in the office and one from home. My employer has been so flexible and I should feel grateful but today I just feel old and like my mojo has deserted me.

I think I am ambitious but don't know how to act on that in a way that doesnt upset the balance or mean less time with my children. On the days I commute in I see them for about an hour in total as it is.

Wormysquirmy Mon 09-Oct-17 17:39:25

Yes - hugely.

Being brutally honest, every option has pros and cons and the massive cost of working part time is that your career profession is fucked. (Well it is in mine and you sound similar).

The pros. You get to pick your kids up and see them 2 days a week. This is a huge for me and outweighs the pissed off feeling. You can always go full time again. I think if it as staying afloat, for now, even if the boat isn't going anywhere!

leftbehind Mon 09-Oct-17 17:40:00

Perhaps this is just something working mothers have to live with. Having it all is such a croc of shite!

MissSueFlay Mon 09-Oct-17 17:40:33

It's a difficult point you're at, with two little ones. Sadly I think you are seeing exactly what happens to women who go back to work part time after having DC. It's unfair, and you can hear the frustration in your post.
At the end of the day you need to weigh up what is more important to you right now, progressing in your career with the sacrifices that entails, or spending time with your DC while they are little.
It's a season, just because it's like this now, doesn't mean this is how it has to be for the duration. Re-evaluate every 6 months or year.
Are there opportunities nearer to home / quicker commute?

I went back to work full time after mat leave for precisely the reasons you've said in your OP. Until men start working part time in equal numbers, it will stay the same. Those dynamic younger women will be dealing with it themselves in a few years too if they choose to go pt too.

leftbehind Mon 09-Oct-17 17:42:31

Liking the boat analogy. I've always thought I'd be ok just keeping that toe in on a profession that I sweated blood and tears to get into. But didn't expect to feel so depressed at being "overtaken" by those still running.

juneau Mon 09-Oct-17 17:43:39

I think unless you're prepared to put in more hours at work you're just going to have to pull up your big girl pants and accept that by working PT you've (albeit unwittingly), put yourself on the slow track to promotion. But bide your time, because those young, dynamic colleagues of yours might have DC themselves and by then you might be in a position to work longer again and then you might, like the tortoise, catch them up. You have a full life, you're a parent, and balance is everything. You can't work as much as them currently, but what goes around comes around.

Oysterbabe Mon 09-Oct-17 17:44:18

It is what happens when you go part time, I've swapped to 3 days too. The way I see it it's only a few years. I'll up my hours once both mine are in school. It's more important to me right now to have more time with the kids while they're still so little.

leftbehind Mon 09-Oct-17 17:44:34

There aren't many opportunities outside of large cities unfortunately.

honeylulu Mon 09-Oct-17 17:44:47

Sounds like you have been bumped onto the "Mummy Track". I've seen it happen a lot in my profession (law).
The trouble is that a lot of jobs require a pretty much full on presence. There are three women at my firm who made it to partner level while working part time. However they are all spectacularly clever and had great client contacts that were hugely valuable to the firm.
For the rest of us minions the choice is full time or mummy track. Part timers are rarely given any of the plum cases or best clients because there's always the chance that things go tits up on your day(s) off. It's just the way things are in any fast moving industry.
If you're prepared to go full time you can still be a fab mum. I swear work is less tiring than looking after my children!
Good luck with whatever you decide.

MissSueFlay Mon 09-Oct-17 17:45:07

Those still running will come to a stop at some point, then you will probably be in a position to overtake them again (in your speedboat! grin)

ottersHateFeminists Mon 09-Oct-17 17:45:40

You only work 6/`0 the hours your colleagues do and this is unlikely to improve.

We all have to make decisions sometimes. You could up your hours and have a fair punt at the higher tiers of your profession or accpet your compromise.

Thank you for not blaming men / patriarchy / society etc. Enjoy what you do have. It's only natural to think that the grass is always greener!

leftbehind Mon 09-Oct-17 17:47:02

Thanks ladies - you all speak perfect sense. I don't know - it just really got to me today. Looking at my younger colleagues was like looking at myself 10 years ago and I felt this (uncharacteristic) overwhelming sadness.

Blankscreen Mon 09-Oct-17 17:48:25

I work as a Solicitor and it part time but I have effectively been told I won't be promoted.

Tbh I don't really care I've accepted that I would rather see my children than have a different title work.

By the sounds of things you have a nice balance.

Unfortunately i think you're going to have chose what you want more.

Would you be happy if you and dh swapped roles?

leftbehind Mon 09-Oct-17 17:49:22

I might blame the menz.... (just a bit - bit not mine as he's fab). grin

StealthPolarBear Mon 09-Oct-17 17:52:22

Seriously op you only get on life. I'm sure you've heard the saying no one ever said they wished they'd spent more time at the office on their deathbed. Well I hope I'll look back at my life (at the grand old age of 137 grin) and be proud of my career as well as my family (all 62 great-great-great grandchildren!)

leftbehind Mon 09-Oct-17 17:54:40

blankscreen and honey - same profession but public sector.

DP and I have discussed him stepping back and me stepping up at some point but he is now (with my blessing) pursuing some new opportunities that might make that harder in the long run. But he would be very open to anything that would make us both happy and is also very conscious of upsetting the balance.

I also saw my dream job advertised the other day but I couldn't do it part-time so that probably didn't help my general mood.

Crunchymum Mon 09-Oct-17 17:54:48

I feel exactly the same.

I moved from a full time, fee earning position to a part time financial admin position at my own request and instigation and my company have been amazing. They have bent over backwards to facilitate my request (allowing me to dictate my hours and days).

Yet it does give me a pang to see younger childless colleagues progress at lightning speed whilst I am effectively standing still. It doesn't make sense as I've not gone for any promotions and I've actively carved out a 'pick up / put down' role to suit my current needs. I asked for this and I am so grateful for my work-life balance so it seems madness to be bothered by lack of progress, when I am not able to commit myself to progression?

For full disclosure I am also 24w with 3rd DC so going on ML for the 3rd time in 6 years (been with company for 16 years though) so will be PT for several more years.

Sittingonthefence83 Mon 09-Oct-17 17:56:23

Totally agree with Stealth ^^. I'm in almost the exact same position as you OP, 3 days a week and young up and coming women taking on more responsibilities than me. Took me a while but I managed to accept my choices and decide that I've got the perfect balance of time with my children and still having a work life. You may regret going full time and missing time with your kids, just my opinion. You'll get there x

StealthPolarBear Mon 09-Oct-17 18:11:11

I'm not sure you do sitting grin I think Im on the side of working ft.

dantdmistedious Mon 09-Oct-17 18:13:04

Same here op. I have now hoped my hours as kids are older and am in line for promotion even though I'm two promotions behind where I would have been if I had stayed full time.

It seems to be about visibility in the office in my firm.

Fixmylife Mon 09-Oct-17 18:31:56

Apply for your dream job! You will never know,otherwise if you could have got it.

LannieDuck Mon 09-Oct-17 18:33:03

I get you. After my second mat leave, and working part-time, I started to feel really under-appreciated at work. My boss just wanted me to do the basic job and never let me try anything different, despite me being very proactive about it, not intending to have any future kids and wanting to dive back into my career.

As a result I left the employer I'd been with for 15+ years and made a side-ways move. I'm feeling a lot happier, but still very ambitious. I have a need to become more senior. I need to feel that my abilities are recognised beyond my designation as 'mummy'. I hope to go back to full-time when DD2 starts school next year, and I'm going to apply for promotions around that time as well.

I've never been actively ambitious before, but (like you), seeing my colleagues progressing beyond me while I was having children was a bit of a shock. It's definitely sparked a desire in me to achieve 'more' i my professional life.

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