I was a single mother juggling a career as a marketing executive and my primary responsibility – parenting my 11-year-old son. His father had long since moved to another state, so in my bag on the way to hockey, baseball or lacrosse (I marked the change of seasons with the change in sports), you could usually find my on-the-go dinner of wilted lettuce leaves and a Diet Coke chaser. My uninspired, but consistent epicurean combo-plate was typically squished in my bag amongst reams upon reams of equally unappetizing work-related reading materials.
Call me lucky: I was in possession of a job that was reasonably well-paying, secure and flexible. Sadly, however, it was deadly dull.
Then, one day Korn/Ferry called. I flew to the East Coast. After 14 grueling hours of interviews, followed by several weeks of anxiety-induced heart palpitations every time the phone rang, the right caller finally dialed me up. I had won the job as General Manager of an Internet property at a large media company.
I traded one anxiety – fear of rejection, for another – dread of change. For days on end I could not sleep. My mind raced with apparitions of cardboard boxes full of things I would never find again; images of my car stuck in a snow bank while my child waited cold and alone to be picked-up from an unfamiliar school; visions of me with my leg in a cast and no friends to call to help with the driving, the laundry or walking the dog.
I turned down the offer, and for years thereafter I wondered what became of that fearless young girl who liked to climb on roofs, ride the rapids and beat the boys at math.
Like so many others, I raised my son while short-changing my career. I don’t know if I’ll ever make up for those years of leaning back professionally, but my son is thriving and I believe that my sacrifices were his gains.