There’s a Pussycat Dolls song that goes, “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me”
and every time I’ve said the title of this blog in my head, I can’t help but sing it like that song. I know, I’m weird.
So anyway, this post is long overdue. I think it’s taken me so long to put
pencil to paper finger to keyboard on this topic because I didn’t always realize just how blessed I am.
Let me rewind…
Five years ago I worked at a large health insurance company as an Executive Assistant to a very difficult vice president. I was paid okay, had decent benefits and reasonable hours, but I was miserable. I gave 100% to my job, but this guy wasn’t pleased. Even though I went above and beyond on a regular basis, he considered me to be a C student.
It just so happened that I went on a family vacation that year and my brother-in-law mentioned that the firm he worked for was considering hiring an administrative person. The more he told me about the company and the position, the more excited I got. It gave me hope that there might be a way out of my current situation.
I was afraid to get too excited because I’m not a quitter, but I was desperate to move on.
Turns out the job my brother-in-law proposed to me was actually up for grabs soon after our family vacay, so I made an appointment for an interview.
I remember hobbling into the office at 7:30 one weeknight after work, wearing a surgical boot after having toe surgery. My “interview” lasted about 3 hours and I talked for all of 20 minutes. The founder of the firm (now my boss) told me about the history of the company, the vision he had for the future, the ideas he had for this new position and probably a million other things I don’t exactly remember.
What I do remember is that I was moved. I was inspired by his enthusiasm, passion and integrity. I bought into the dream he had and I was ready to sign on the line.
We ended with me asking him if he had any questions for me. You know, like about my experience, skills, work habits, education…anything really.
Turns out he had 3 questions:
1. Do you want the job?
2. How much do you want to make?
3. When could you start?
I let him know I’d get back to him with my answers even though I pretty much knew they were:
1. Hell yes
2. Whatever you are willing to pay me
3. As soon as possible
I was still very torn about what to do about my current job. I was terrified to give my notice and was scared about the “unknown” at the new gig. Andy and I talked and prayed about it a lot. I went over all the pros and cons and, at the end of the day, the idea of a new job at a growing company with a great boss felt like seeing the world in color for the first time. It was a Dorothy meets Oz moment if you will.
So, I took it.
Turns out it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Fast forward to about a year and a half ago…
I felt like I was on top of my game at work. I had a lot of balls in the air, but for the most part I was able to juggle them all and have fun doing it.
Then I had a baby.
And I turned into a total hormonal disaster.
After dreaming my whole life of being a stay at home mom, it was apparent that my reality wasn’t going to line up with the dream. Andy was still a long way off from finishing his pre-reqs, let alone practicing medicine, so I was stuck.
I knew going into my pregnancy that I’d have to work for a while, but I had no idea how having a baby would turn my world upside down.
Everything I’d thought was important seemed meaningless, everything I used to be good at felt impossible to keep track of and I had pretty much become an anti-social dairy cow. I just wanted to stay home with my baby and bury my head in the sand.
So began the whining. The tantrums about “my great sacrifice” and the heavy cross that I had to bear. The tears and the struggle about how hard it was to “neglect” my baby for a job that I wished I didn’t have to have. I didn’t want to be a whiny, stressed out wife, but I was. I felt smothered by my circumstances.
Yes, it was a tough adjustment, but looking back on it I can now see that I wasn’t really myself. I was a hormonal mess and I think I was struggling with a bit of postpartum anxiety. It wasn’t the job’s fault that I was miserable, it was my fault.
My job is fast-paced, intense and demanding, but I work with a great team of people and an even greater boss.
About two months after the end of my maternity leave, I was on the verge of a breakdown. My boss called me into his office to talk about what was going on and I sat down and fell apart. I sobbed about how it wasn’t working and how I felt like a failure.
He was hurt that I hadn’t come to him sooner to tell him I was struggling so we could work out a solution. He listened to my woes and gave me wise counsel and encouragement. He reminded me of the precious gift I was giving my husband…the support he needed to fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor.
Heck, it was my boss who challenged Andy to become a doctor when he was starting to doubt it was feasible and was considering becoming a PA instead. He fanned the flame of desire in Andy’s heart and encouraged him to pursue the nagging feeling that being a doctor was what he was supposed to do. There were a million and one reasons why a 30 year old guy with a wife and a baby shouldn’t go to medical school, but my boss ignored all those reasons and reminded Andy of the reasons he should do it. He saw the potential in Andy even when Andy didn’t realize how great it was, and we’re so thankful to him for that.
I sat in my boss’s office telling him how I was stressed out and working long hours to stay on top of my responsibilities. Most bosses would tell me to suck it up or find a new job. But not mine. He brought on a new staff member to take over some of my job functions that were not a great fit for me and that were taking up lots of my time causing me to feel overwhelmed.
Most working moms don’t have the option to work from home, but my boss has allowed me to work from home as much as I need to in order to juggle everything with Andy’s class schedule and the baby.
He paid for extra equipment to make my home office as efficient as possible so that I can do what I need to do from home as well as I can from the office.
He doesn’t mind that my days in the office are only half days and only 3 times a week. He’s okay with me changing my schedule every time Andy changes semesters.
He was okay with me rushing out of the office some days to get home for Grace’s next feeding, or locking myself in an empty office to pump on the days I was in the office.
He cares about me as a person and he cares about my family.
He’s a man who lives what he believes. He has a beautiful wife and four great kids (3 of whom are adopted from Russia). As their needs evolve and change, so does he. He knows that his family looks to him for guidance and leadership and he works hard to be there for them while also running a growing business.
When I decided to go to BlogHer and took a few vacation days for the trip to San Diego, he sent me a touching email thanking me for my hard work and telling me not to use up vacation time for the days I’d be gone.
He invests in each and every person who works for him whether they realize it or not. He is generous when he doesn’t have to be and even sometimes when he probably shouldn’t be. It’s just the kind of man he is.
He has his employees’ backs, even when we screw up. I’ve seen many of us make mistakes that he will call the customer about and take the heat for. He never throws us under the bus, even when we’re at fault.
He doesn’t look at the company, his company, as just a way to pad his pocketbook. He sees it as an opportunity to employ people and pay them a good wage with great benefits so they can take care of their families. When times get tough and the economy does somersaults he loses sleep thinking about how it will impact each of us, not thinking about how many of us he should let go to cut costs.
In this day and age, when there are so many examples of greedy men with poor character, I am so thankful that I work for a man of character and integrity.
I may be living out a different story than the one I’d pictured for myself, but I have a hunch that it worked out this way for a reason. God knew how much my family would be blessed by the man I call my boss and I believe it was His plan for me to be exactly where I am.