Offer Me Solutions, Offer Me Alternatives, and I Decline...


It's the end of my career as I know it and I feel strange...

So, after hours of repositioning paragraphs and plumbing the recesses of my brain to recall how many stocks are in the Dow, I received the call I'd been anxiously awaiting. I was offered the job I'd interviewed for last week.

Accepting it would be, in dating terms, the equivalent of getting dumped by Lenny or Squiggy in late January and then marrying George Clooney six weeks later. It was shocking in a way that made me want to put the phone down and look over each shoulder in "Who? Me? Really?" disbelief.

But the offer, with a well-respected, leading national news organization that would give me instant street cred, was not without its drawbacks (which is why I'm writing this and not busy gnawing corks out of champagne bottles with my teeth right now).

Going into the interview I knew that it was a "freelance contractor" position. In other words, don't expect any benefits, and when I say "any" I mean even a paid lunch hour. I could accept forgoing health insurance as we're covered by my husband's company through the end of the year. I could even overlook the lack of a 401(k) though it did break my heart a little. But what I couldn't get past and didn't know about until after I'd deepened my frown lines exponentially during the taking of that exam, were the hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Yes, I know it could be worse, like 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., but still.

Having three children, whom I'd like to see, ideally, heading to bed between 8:30 and 9 p.m., makes this a really difficult decision. Because of the long commute, barring traffic, which in New Jersey is like banning rudeness and spray tans, I'd walk through the door around 8 p.m. As much as I wanted to take the job and put an end to the constant worry about how we'll afford all that toothpaste my boys seem to be using to create a life-size mural in the bathroom, I didn't like the idea of  all I'd be missing. Is there anyone more qualified to referee their fights on whose nightmares are, in fact, the scariest? I don't think so, because, let's face it, I have years of experience.

And I'll be honest, there's a spiteful, mean-spirited part of me that wants to watch my husband coordinate homework, dinnertime, and playdates and then see if he's still convinced that travel baseball is "awesome."

But when I did the math, (I hate any sentence that starts with that phrase) by the time I'd paid for tolls and gas and then had to decide whether to take an unpaid lunch, the amount of money I'd pocket was dropping faster than Justin Bieber's IQ.

My husband, a recent convert to the art of negotiation, suggested I go back to them with a staggering per-hour increase.

"For that much money, I'd have to blow an anchorman," I told him. (Sorry, Mom, if I ever let you read these ramblings.)

But still, I asked if they'd go higher and they declined, so I did as well. It was a tough choice and I'm still not sure it was the right one. What if six more months go by before I get another call for interview?

Unfortunately, that's the chance I've taken. In the meantime, I will take comfort in knowing I will be there to tell my children to shut up and listen when Paul Simon's "Peace Like a River" comes on the radio. (Thanks, WFUV!) I will be around to hear my 8 year old, when he figures out how to play the bass clef on the piano, squeal, "I get it now and I could cry with happiness."

I will always have time to work, but I won't always have a chance to prank my son by pretending to pull away from a McDonald's drive-through window without his Shamrock Shake, causing him and the cashier to scream "WAIT!" in unison.

A paycheck and an impressive position on my resume would have been nice, but at what price?

After I told my mom I'd decided to turn down the job, she said, "I know it was hard, but I think you made the right call. You just have to have faith that a better job will come along. Did I tell you Blimpie is hiring?"

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