Wednesday, October 22, 2008

State of Uncertainty

I wasn't planning on moving so suddenly but it seems I've been thrust into another state. An anxiety-ridden state of doubt and worry.

Things are not going so swell at DH's job. I've had an inkling for over a month that things were going downhill. But you know how it is. You ignore it. Or you push it to the back of your mind. You're too frightened of the possibility that the breadwinning career is now in jeopardy. You hope for the best and try to be optimistic. You convince yourself things will get better. So you wait until reality smacks you in the forehead and you are forced to take action.

That time is upon us.

I'd say it all started around the time Nate was born, coincidentally. Before our little man arrived, DH was easily working 60 hours a week. He would work his daily weekday shift but also here and there on weeknights and weekends. He's a software engineer by trade so naturally, I've gotten used to sharing my husband with another woman named Toshiba. I've known about the affair for years and have come to accept that it will never change. And surprisingly, I'm okay with the menage a trois.

In the latter days of my pregnancy, DH had asked for 2 weeks vacation upon Nate's birth, which was approved by his boss. He also negotiated telecommuniting 1 day a week. This was to be our insurance policy to supplement my WAH schedule. Together with my mother, we could alternate childcare responsibilities, thus avoiding daycare. He had no need to cash in on this day until Nate was born so we decided he would only start taking this day when my maternity leave ended and it was absolutely necessary.

We had it all planned out.

However, after less than 1 week into his paternity leave, his boss asked demanded him to come back. DH reluctantly agreed. I was not pleased, as I had counted on this parenthood thing to be a collaborative effort for those couple of weeks while I recovered physically. But in the interest of avoiding confrontation, I became a pacifist. Que sera sera.

As the end of my maternity leave drew closer, DH went to his boss to cash in on his telecommuting day. To his shock, his boss said they had implemented a new policy that did not encourage working from home. How convenient. His boss told him that he wasn't going to pay him to do "daddy day care". After DH politely reminded him that it was negotiated prior to this new, unwritten policy - and also duly noted that other employees worked remotely with no hassle - he agreed to honor their agreement.

My antenna went up but I didn't want to worry myself needlessly. Not to be cliche, but men aren't typically as sympathetic to childcare arrangements so I figured DH would just need to prove him it could work. I reasoned that even if DH lost a few hours of productivity on his day at home, he worked plenty of hours otherwise so it wouldn't be too detrimental.

When Nate was about 5 or 6 weeks old, the company underwent some changes to their processes and as a result, DH's title changed from Senior Software Engineer to Technical Manager. This was a fancy way of saying that instead of devoting himself solely to programming, which is his forte, he would have the bonus role of project manager. Two jobs in one with no pay increase. Yipee. Also, he would still have to complete his programming tasks in the same time frame as before, despite the added responsibilities.

Needless to say, DH started to slip. He had a mountain of work to do and he was already working as much as he could without going certifiably insane. He started missing deadlines and became short with co-workers who demanded even more of his precious time. Clients were adding more and more requirements to their list of needs and were getting angry when their projects were not as far along as they should have been. DH kept striding forward - always the "yes" man. He kept assuring everyone he could catch up, not realizing that he was in over his head. He's human after all and has his limits. But his masculinity perceived this limitation as weakness.

On Thursdays, DH's lone telecommuting day, he found it hard to balance fatherhood and his insurmountable workload. Nate would fuss as babies do and DH would take time to soothe him, only to come back to a shitstorm from his boss about how they tried to reach him via IM for an hour (you couldn't pick up the phone?) and if he is continually unavailable, this day would be torn away from him.

DH tried to finally speak up to his boss and let him know how burnt out he was, pleading with him to develop a solution. But his boss was basically too busy to deal with it and dismissed him with little more than "work it out".

When DH came back to work Monday after his trip to Atlanta, his boss told him that calling out on Friday was unprofessional. Shame we didn't get his aunt to call a few weeks ago to give them advanced notice of her death.

All of these little things have snowballed into a huge point of contention. DH's boss took away his projects and put him on menial tasks, telling him that he is no longer confident in his abilities. He also told DH he can no longer work remotely on Thursdays - as if that is the reason behind DH's lackluster performance - and demanded a meeting with him to discuss his future with the company. His boss made it a point to say that there will be no bargaining and "it will not turn into an argument like you like to do." Granted, DH can be a little stubborn and defensive. He's an introvert and has to work with a variety of personalities. He blows up sometimes, despite his best efforts to keep his attitude in check. But who hasn't?

It just seems like they have unreal expectations of him and want to make his life unbearable so he will quit. After all, they're the kind of cheap bastards that would not fire someone just so they didn't have to pay unemployment.

DH is depressed and humiliated. He feels as if everyone there is pitying him. Secretly knowing he's about to get canned.

He's taken the initiative and sent out 12 resumes, a few of which called him back within 24 hours. I guess the M.S. from John's Hopkins really helps. So all hope is not lost. But our future is unclear. What if he does get let go? We only have enough of a safety net to make it 2 months, maybe 3, without his income. And that is supposed to be our savings for downpayment on a house. What if he gets a job offer in another state? What if we have to relocate? What will come of the career I've worked so hard to attain? What in the hell are we going to do on Thursdays now? Who will watch Nate? I can't ask my boss for one more day when I'm already at home more than I'm in the office.

I feel things spinning out of control. I see my DH hanging by a thread and I'm trying to hold him up while fulfilling my own job responsibilities and maintaining my own emotions. Not to mention trying to keep my son happy, which takes up the majority of my days as it is. I was spreading myself thin as it was with my time and attention and now I simply feel inadequate.

I know I have to be the strong one right now but it is so hard. I may look like a stone casing on the outside and that I have it all together. But I feel like a glass vase with a hairline crack - the slightest mishandling could break me.


Mrs. Shoes said...

I am so sorry you are having to go through this. My DH got laid off in January, two days before we were set to go on vacation to the Caribbean. It was the scariest thing having all of the questions and uncertainties swirl around my head. Hugs to both you.

Anonymous said...

Sweetie, I'm so sorry. I HATE it when things are so chaotic when your world is nearly spinning out of control. I also work in IT, and know how absolutely frustrating IT bosses can be. Especially when the generation gap between the "old people" and the "young people" seems to be twice as big as in other industries. It does sound like they're trying to make him miserable and get him to leave. They're going to end up with the short end of the stick in this situation though. Your hubby is obviously a smart guy, and should have no problem finding another, better, job. Things will get better, I have confidence. Keeping you in my prayers, remember you don't have to be in control of this one, He is.

And seriously, the company is discouraging telecommuting? When the rest of the world is moving in that direction? They're obviously holding themselves back - good luck to them getting anyone with a life to sign on there!

Shelli said...

Kristin- I am so sorry you are having to deal with this now!

I work in the IT industry as well, and have walked that line before with other bosses. Heck, I've even been laid off twice only to find a job in another divison of the company. Back then, I wish I had mustered up the courage to look elsewhere.

Nowadays, my job is semi-stable, and hubby's is in jeopardy (he works in the auto industry.. all that needs to be said about that).

I hope you find a little peace. It's not a fun place to be in. Hang in there as best you can.

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

Oh Kristin...I'm so sorry you guys are going through this. While reading your post, I couldn't help but think about G and what he went through with his last job. The same thing they are doing to DH they did to G and he quit in January. He's just now going back to work in a completely different field, but his quitting was the BEST thing he could have done.

It gave us time to enjoy the pregnancy and first couple of months with Lemy. He was able to be there for things that he otherwise wouldn't have been a part of because that job was taking over his life. Not to mention he was unbelievably miserable.

I'm thinking of all of you and praying that whatever happens it is all for the best. ((HUGS))

mo*reezy said...

wow... this is truly, truly awful. I'm so sorry that your situation is such a pile of crap. Praying that things get better...

Sherry said...

yuk - sorry to see that this is happening to DH. His boss sounds like such an a$$! I hope something new works out for him soon and that all the changes aren't too stressful for you guys...

Polka Dot said...

I'm so sorry you guys are going through this.

What your dh has been through sounds a lot like what mine has been through several times with his job - adding more and more to his plate with no pay raise. And now we know - we know for a fact - that they're not keeping him past Jan 31st (the whole office is closing). So with my not working and the end of his job in sight, it's pretty stressful here too.

The thing to remember is this --- you can, and will, get through it. It's a bump in the road and it's uncertain, but it is doable. It may mean he seriously looks for another company or rides this one out until whatever's stuck in his boss's ass dislodges.

I can't say it'll be roses and sunshine the whole time, but you'll both come out the other end.

In the meantime, pay him lots of compliments - even for doing little things like taking out the trash. You and Nate are the most important things to him and even small 'thank you's' will go a long way to making him feel appreciated and needed.

Kim said...

Gosh, girl. I feel for ya. The only advice that I have is to try to remember that you CAN and WILL get through this, as proven by what you have gone through and GOTTEN through in the past. Everything really DOES work out in the end.. and sometimes for the better. As long as you have your little family, it doesn't matter where you are or what you went through to get there. I am in the graphic design field, and it works the same way. They expect too much and nothing is ever enough.. including the pay. But maybe he will find a higher-paying job with more time at home. There's always a silver lining. Can you possibly negotiate a four day work-week with your boss, where you work slightly longer days to make up for Thursday?

Grad3 said...

I know it's hard when every freakin' day feels like a fight. I am so sorry that things have played out like this so far. It's just unfair.

Hang in there and you will find your way through... ~Warm Supportive Hugs~

Geohde said...

Oh my, Kristen.

That's rough. A pox on poor bosses everywhere.


Denise said...

Oh wow. You are dealing with a lot right now. There are some people who go through situations like this with the attitude that things will work themselves out. I'm not one of those people. That being said, I really hope things start to look up soon and that your DH is maybe able to find another, better job without having to relocate. It doesn't sound like his current employer is very family friendly or even reasonable.

Two Hands said...

I'm sorry you are going through this as well, but I know the road and thus far, we have made it. We're not where we'd like to be ideally, but we have a roof over our heads and food in our cupboards. My husband has been the lone breadwinner in our house since we got together. I stayed home because any income I made would be eaten up by childcare so I decided to forego the middle man and raise my own children. We have gone through four job losses in four years and we are still okay. Yes, it is terrifically stressful, especially when you have a little one to think about, but you will make it. I don't know where you are, but if I can help, I will. You will be alright.

Somewhat Ordinary said...

I'm so sorry! His boss sounds "great." Times are tough now, but you'll get through it. My DH's company pretty much closed up shop on the day of my 12 week ultrasound. He did find another job and then I was laid off 2 weeks before my due date. It has been a rough year, but things work out in the end. I'll be thinking of you!

Shelby said...

I'm so sorry! We've been crunching the numbers and dealing with a similar issue the last few months. It sucks when the breadwinner is going to be laid off/fired/quit/in need of new job. It is so scary. I just hope your husband finds something quickly that is way better than what he has now.

Samantha said...

What a sucky boss! I think you are right - the boss is trying to force him to leave. Given how incredibly unfamily-friendly the company seems to be, him looking for another job may be the best thing for the both of you! Meanwhile sending you thoughts for a difficult situation!

Finding the right balance between job and family is never an easy task.

Melissa said...

Ouch. That's a pretty crappy situation and I certainly understand your anxiety. It's scary to live with so much uncertainty about the future - especially when money is concerned.

The good news is that your husband has an educational background and career that is highly sought after. So if his current job goes sour (which I hope it doesn't) I have no doubt that better opportunities await.

About the Thursday daycare... well, I have no advice for you. I think your only option is to stay at home those days. Not the best move for your career, I understand, but Nate will surely take priority.

Take a deep breath - everything will be okay!