Jenn Koren

Who Says I Can't?

Sticking to My Priorities April 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennkoren @ 6:39 am

If you ask anyone that knows me they’ll tell you that  I’m addicted to my work.  I have to work and keep myself busy in order to keep sane.   I’m also a Mom to an 8 1/2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old. I had my first child at 25 and I made the decision to leave my full time, well paying job, to stay at home with her and work part time in the evenings and weekends.

As I look back at this decision and compare myself to friends who are stay at home Moms, I still don’t know why I chose this direction.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my children but I’m definitely not in the same category as a lot of people that I know who have also chosen this path.  I don’t get all crazy over the smell of a newborn and definitely didn’t look forward to having yet another person in my house that I had problems communicating with.  I’m not the ‘sing along Mom’ or the ‘arts and crafts Mom’ and if you lived in my house for one day you may think that I run it the way that I run an office.  Things are in order, we have deadlines and we always stick to a schedule…yes, I am slightly crazy.

I don’t want to paint myself as this  crazy, controlling type of person, but over the years I’ve realized that the latter is probably true.  I do like to be in control of things and being a Mom and not raising my own children was really not an option for me.  I wanted to be the one watching out for them to ensure that I was there whenever they needed me.   So, I made up my mind and after my daughter was born, found all sorts of odd part time jobs that would allow me to stay home with her during the day.  I was able to bring in a consistent part time income working at jobs like the Gap stocking shelves at night, selling Pampered Chef, court transcribing, waiting tables..etc..

We then decided to move to PA for a chance at more property, a larger house and a better life for our daughter.  My husband was able to transfer his job out there with his same pay and I once again picked up odd part time jobs to bring in some extra income.

Six months after moving to PA my husband got laid off.  This, we were not prepared for. We had hardly any savings and started to accumulate a large amount of credit card debt.   My husband’s job field was hard to find and we suddenly found ourselves in every couple’s worst financial nightmare.  We decided that I had to go back to work full time.  Fortunately I found a good paying job and started shortly after he got laid off.  Soon after that, my husband got offered a job and even though it was a huge decrease in pay and very ‘beneath’ what he was capable of, he had to take it.  Now that we both were pulling in an income and our daughter was a year away from kindergarten we were in a little better shape to get our heads above the financial nightmare that we were in.

Then, I got pregnant.  So baby #2 was on the way and I was faced with the same issue of what I was going to do once this baby was born.  We were in credit card debt, along with our mortgage and did I mention that we had a new car that we bought prior to him getting laid off?  I didn’t see how I could stay home and give up my job at that point.  I HAD to work!

I remember thinking to myself, ‘I have no choice’. This angered me a great deal and the fact that my strong ‘maternal instincts’ decided to resurface at this time didn’t help the situation any more.

I refused to feel like I was being forced into anything, especially if it had to do with my children and how they were going to be raised.   I knew it had to be me to raise our 2nd child and I needed to find a way to make this happen.

Things were slightly different this time around since we didn’t officially make the decision that I would stay home with my son until right after he was born.  My job refused the proposal of keeping me on a part time basis or allowing me to have a flexible schedule.  If I didn’t come back to my normal full time schedule then I would not have a job.

So, 3 weeks after I had a c-section and gave birth to my 2nd child,  I quit my secure, nice paying job and was out looking for something new.   My first stop was a temp agency, whose first question was confirming that I was still not pregnant (this was a great way for me to stay my first interview).   My plan was to find something in the evenings and work until 4am at the latest.   Oddly enough, they had a client that called them that very same day looking for a customer service rep for their night shift from 10pm-4am.  But there were a few issues. The pay was only $9 an hour and I would have to be okay with working from home.

I am smiling as I type this because I still remember that moment.  The pay was ridiculously low, but I saw it as an opportunity.  It was like God pointed to me and said ‘there you go….it’s your choice’.

From that moment on I was working out of my home almost every night from 10pm-4am.  I had a newborn and in between calls would feed him and rock him back to sleep.  Soon enough my dedication and hard work was noticed by the owners and they offered me more hours  and pay.  I took on as much as I could.  I remembered one of them saying, ‘How many hours can one person actually take on?’ as if he wasn’t sure that I was physically able to do it.  But I took them.   I worked back to back night and day shifts and had a few hours off in between.  It definitely took a toll on me physically and emotionally, but it was my choice and what I needed to do to stick to the priorities that were most important to me.

Two years ago my family and I moved to Baltimore, Maryland due to a promotion and relocation that I was offered from that very job.  We have paid off all our credit card and car debt and I am no longer working night shifts but have moved from managing the entire call center to building and managing their online client community.  My schedule is still flexible and I have the choice of working from home or in the office.  There were lots of struggles that got me to this point and most importantly lessons that I learned that will last me a lifetime. This experience will always stick out to me as one that was the hardest but the most beneficial in my life.

My friends always say that I am so lucky to always find these types of jobs that allow me to be flexible around my family.  I tell them that it doesn’t have anything to do with luck.  It has to do with me making up my mind and being determined to do whatever it is that I have to, to make it happen.  I work hard at what I do and when I see an opportunity I take it and ride it as far as it will take me.

I put my son into full time preschool for the very first time this year, but I did it because I was ready to do it…not because I had to do it.


3 Responses to “Sticking to My Priorities”

  1. Justin Goldman Says:

    Jen, you create your own luck in this world and you clearly are the epitome of what this article illustrates:

    • jennkoren Says:

      Thanks Justin! I do feel like we all have the ability to set the pathway for our lives if we are truly focused and committed to it. Thanks for always reminding me that I never needed to be forced into doing anything…that I do always have a choice.

  2. Kelly Says:

    This is a great example of how you made the situation work for you. It doesn’t sound like it was easy, but in the end it has worked out. Congrats on finding the right solution-the one that met everyone’s needs. I really believe hard work pays off-your story is a prefect example of that as well.

    Good luck!

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