Having It All and Giving It Back


“…we need you to work more hours until we get this project back on track,” my then project manager said coolly. His eyes said nothing. I tried reading his body language; aside from a short flip of his hair his remarks were pretty candid and dismissive all at once.

I, on the other hand, was not so contained. I sat across from him in his small office with little beads of sweat accumulating on my forehead and a baby bump on my lap – I was 6 months pregnant.

Can Women Really Have It All?

“I’m already putting in almost 50 hours, Todd,” I was exhausted.

“The system requirements are done and short of developing the application myself, there really isn’t much else I can do until we’re ready to test.”

He knew I was right; there wasn’t physically anything else the management staff could do. He wanted me to babysit the client. I thought that decision was a poor project move – all we had to do was deliver on time. Truth is those long work days were emotionally and physically taxing for the entire team. In my mind, I didn’t see what I personally needed to do necessitated longer hours in the office.  I could surely log in from home and respond to email from there, right?

Wrong! Todd was fixated on face time in the office.

“No we need you here, we’re thinking 12-hour shifts for everyone until the development work is done,” he responded.

Seriously, dude?

I thought about how much I’ve already sacrificed for the company, neglecting my health, neglecting my family and neglecting my career on this and other poorly ran projects.

“No, that won’t work for me,” I said as evenly as I could. “I-I have a family Todd and….”

Did I just say that?

“Aren’t you married?” he snapped. He seemed offended.


“Couldn’t your husband, step up at home until the project is . . . . ”

I remember distinctively how I felt at that moment. I was anxious, afraid and angry all at the same time. I saw his lips move but I couldn’t hear a word. All I kept thinking was: what would I say next . . . .

Tell me what you think! Have you faced a similar sitaution? Sound off below. 

30 thoughts on “Having It All and Giving It Back

  1. Kathy

    Love it! I hope you post the rest of it… I am curious. And I have faced a similar situation. The approach I chose was to suck it up, say nothing, and make myself really sick. :-/. I like to think I have learned since then and handle things better. 🙂

    • Hi Kathy! Great to hear from you. I know you know how demanding our work can be. I’m pretty sure this isn’t a “woman” thing either, I’m sure men face this too…especially dads.

  2. I want to know more! Great topic. This whole idea of ‘longer hours’ seems so prevalent these days, and all it does is make me wonder if it actually improves progress…

    • Hi Katie – so true! That is the mindset….and many of us have feed into it. To me it’s like putting more people on an issue thinking it will resolve faster. Na-uh…that doesn’t work either.

  3. Great memoir scene. I never had such an unreasonable manager, but I did experience that critical moment some years ago when I realized that balancing my full-time job and parenting my 6 and 3-year old children became close to impossible. I was not able to do either role well and ended up reducing my hours to part-time, taking my little one out of day care, and working at home. It really just came down to not being able to be two places and two people at once.

  4. I love it! I definitely have had multiple moments in my work life just like that. When I quit my last job, I can’t describe how I happy and free I felt. It was really great. Unfortuntely, I think it’s almost impossible to “have it all.”

    • Hey Jenni — so great of you to stop by! I had the pleasure of quitting once and it felt incredible. I had enough and with my whole being I proudly proclaimed NO MAS! I think having it all is a matter of perspective. I think we need to define what “all” is …because it should be different to everyone’s journey. It’s so western in our thinking that we all want the same things.

  5. Oh, please do post more on your blog! It sounds very interesting and your “writing voice” sound just like one I would like to “hear”. You have a very interesting way of explaining things!

  6. Very nice writing – the scene really engages the reader. I found myself reading with my mouth open in disgust, and my tongue clicking away at the characterization of your project manager. Judging by all the comments you’ve been getting, you really have struck a nerve for a lot of working women/moms. Your memoir should do well, and I look forward to reading it. Do you have a title yet?

  7. Great post and writings! Looking forward to more excerpts. I am following you now, and would love for you to check my blog out too, if you would like! plainjanemadlibby.blogspot.com


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