My Lost Decade

Reflections on Ten Years in Foster Care and my life since.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What is most valuable?

I started a new job in November, and as the dates on my posts will reflect, I have been very busy with it. It is demanding, but I enjoy the work. The company values protecting the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. I love being part of this organization because I know the values they are promoting are good, right and true.

The problems begin with the fact that I live four hours away from my family (birth and foster) and MUST see them at least once a month. When I accepted the job, I made my boss aware that this was not negotiable. He agreed that it would not be a problem for me to be gone from Friday evening to Monday morning, as the job is Monday-Friday and he "only ever had to work direct care about three times in three years" that he had my job. I also informed him at the time of the interview that I am a foster care system advocate and do A LOT of volunteer work relating to that. I told him that I would continue this work in my free time and that I may use my benefits to participate in foster care events. This was not a problem, he said, as I can use benefits as needed. The job is salaried at 40 hours a week and it might sometimes require more or less time, but generally would require around 45 hours a week to complete.

Fast forward three months. I do not make the schedule for the facility, as this is the job of my second in command and one that she guards jealously. If she does not get the schedule filled, however, I am responsible for picking up hours not covered. This happens every week or two. I missed a visit home a couple of weekends ago as a result. I got to go home last weekend, but could not leave work until after 6 pm Friday and had to be back early Sunday afternoon to do payroll, which is due first thing Monday morning, takes four-six hours and cannot be completed until an e-mail is sent to my work computer on Sunday morning. I cannot get the e-mail on any computer, so I can not do this anywhere but there. There is no possible way that I could spend an entire weekend with my family and my boss should have known this at the time of the interview. Not only this, but I am being told that the foster care events I love so much, "might" be accomodated, but only if my second in command is able to fill the schedule, which I will not know until a few days before each event, long after I have committed to take part in it. To top it all off, I worked 50 and 60 hour weeks all through January and still could not keep up with everything asked of me at work and thus was told my boss that I need to work more hours.

So here is my I stay at the job because the company is good at the core and I already more or less committed two years, while neglecting my family and foster care plans OR do I let go of a job where I can impact the lives of people like my mom, after only three months, because my boss lied and I am stressed out by the workload.

I guess it is about what a person values. I value having work that is enjoyable and meaningful. In many ways, this job fits that criteria. I value seeing my family. When I do not get to see them regularly, my mental health suffers. I value my mental health, which is also adversely affected by not being able to keep up with this job. I value being able to speak out about foster care and educate foster parents. Without doing this, the bad things I experienced in foster care are in vane and the good things I experienced are less likely to be replicated for other kids. I do not want that to happen. I also do not want to commit to foster care events only to be told that I must break that commitment to be at work. I also know that there will come a time when I will want to get my non-profit up and running. When that time comes, I will have to quit this job anyway. I suppose I will keep working through this in my head until I come to an answer.


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