Last night was my company Holiday party. At the end of the workday, my coworkers and I bundled into our winter coats and set off to walk together towards the Hudson River, our destination an event space called Studio 450, on the 12th floor of a building in the west 30s. After waiting for a ride up in the elevator, we were greeted at the door by servers offering a signature drink (the Mathematician, themed after our company’s work), and walked into a two floor space with views of the NY and NJ skyline all around us. I spent part of the night downstairs with the music and food, and part of the night upstairs at tables with Cards Against Humanity set out, letting loose with what was mostly the engineering cohort.
Many times, I reflected on how different this was from my first Holiday Party with this company, when we had 140 people worldwide and only one Manhattan office. Now we are up to 600 people, about 450 of them spread across our (temporarily) 3 Manhattan offices. There were so many faces I didn’t know, and yet I still felt a strong sense of kinship with all of these people.
I would often bump into people that I don’t work with day to day, and one question would come up often: “So, are you back full time now?”
To which I would smile and say, “Nope.”
It’s been roughly a year since I negotiated with my boss that when I returned from maternity leave, it would be part time. We didn’t put an end date on it, we just said we’d continue to check in to evaluate how it was going. I feel incredibly thankful for the arrangement that I have. It is wonderful to maintain my professional self, and yet to spend 5 days a week home with my daughter, watching her grow and change and just being there for her.
Professionally, there have certainly been some sacrifices. I am not in the office everyday, so I miss face time and less import meetings, and I have to sometimes take a sidelines role in projects I’d like to be more involved in. Whereas I once saw all company outings as a chance to network and thereby increase my effectiveness and enjoyment of work, last night was typical of where I’m at now – I darted out at 8:30 upon hearing that my daughter was hysterical, saying “Mama” and signing for milk but rejecting the bottle. I barely slept last night, but my reasons differ from most of my peers.
But it’s so worth it. I have decades to continue to build my career. I am so lucky to keep it moving along while I spend the time with my daughter now.