Yesterday I received an email from friend from law school. She has two kids the same age Mikey and Nico. I thought she was going to cancel our lunch date for the 3rd of April (turns out she needed to reschedule) but she also told me the firm she works at has a position open and she wants me to apply. It’s a workman’s comp defense firm (one of the largest in California) and it’s 2.6 miles from my house. The salary is very, very low, but they pay for my car, insurance, 401k, and all sorts of tempting perks. All day I was excited, thinking my problems were solved until it hit me that in order for me to do this Nico and Mikey will be in daycare fulltime, most likely 12+ hours a day.
And then the nausea set in.
Then I crunched the numbers, and figured out daycare would take more than 50% of my salary.
Then I thought to ask her what her billable hours requirement* was, and she told me 300 per month. I did the numbers quickly, and it looks like I would have to work (roughly) 14 billable hours per day in order to meet my 300 hour monthly minimum. I sent her another email about this, and she confirmed my calculations, saying she bills 10 to 16 hours everyday, but that it is very manageable.
How is a 10 to 16 hour day manageable with two small children? My friend supports her family, by the way. Her husband recently started a business that, so far, has not been able to contribute to the family’s income. She goes to work early, works all day, picks up the kids from daycare, makes the two hours before they go to bed all about them, and then works from her laptop until it’s time to go to bed.
Again, HOW IS THIS MANAGEABLE? How do those of you who juggle work and family do it? How do you afford daycare? How do you do this 5+ days every week and not want to pull your hair out and gouge out your eyes with a mechanical pencil? This scenario is a very real possibility for me if the Mister does not find a job that paid as well as his previous one. The thought of subjugating 10-16 hours my life everyday for a firm…for a job…makes me feel claustrophobic and out of control.
And then I feel despondent when I think of the Mister and thousands upon thousands of dads who do this all the time because it’s expected of them.
The only way you should work 10-16 hours a day is if you are doing something you love. Something you feel passionate about. Then all those hours would go by like minutes, and you would come home feeling alive, if not fresh and invigorated. But this isn’t always possible today. Instead, we get stuck in jobs and career paths that feed our needs but not our souls. This saddens me.
But what saddens me most of all is, after all this, a part of me is wondering if I should apply for that job.
[*in order to remain employed, attorneys working in firms have billable hours requirements. This is the number of hours they need to bill within a certain time period. Not every hour you work can be billed to a client, however, so working 8 hours in one day doesn’t mean you have accrued 8 billable hours.]