Monday, May 9, 2011

T-ball and choices

As most of you know via my facebook posts, I've volunteered to be an assistant coach of Elizabeth's t-ball team.  This is very amusing to everyone that knows me - I'm not exactly athletic.  And I spent three awful years in middle school bumbling my way through pony-tail league slow pitch softball, coached by my mom.

I've spent most of my life thinking that my mom really wanted to coach, and so that's why I was forced to play, despite my complete lack of skill of any sort.  But after coaching a few practices, I really rethought that whole history.  Did my mom really want to coach, or was it just something that needed a volunteer with some level of interest?  The community needed coaches and you step up when and where you can, knowing it's good for your child and the community. 

I like baseball.  I do think it's good for Elizabeth.  And in this case, I think it's good for me, too.  Even if it may kill me.  In practices, we do a variety of drills, just trying to get the kids to acquire basic skills.  There's a lot of the coach (me) rolling grounders or throwing balls to kids, who then throw the ball back to the coach.  Our kids are not very skilled, and there are a lot of errant balls.  Last week, a kid made a bad throw back to me, and I chased after the ball, thrusting out my foot to stop it, and instead mistakenly stepping onto the ball while running.  My ankle rolled, and I tumbled to the ground on my side.  I've got floppy ankles, and about once a year roll one or the other of them, resulting in a minor sprain.  One of these days I'm really going to do a number on one of them, but my floppy ankles just flop back into place, so it's always just a slight sprain that's stiff a couple of days.  Anyway, I rolled from my side onto my back, and stared up at the sky, (inwardly) cursing my clumsiness and wondering exactly how badly I had sprained my ankle, cause it hurt like hell.  Elizabeth came over and knelt down and patted my head, concerned I was hurt.  But another boy from my group also wandered over and stared down at me, before observing: "you sure do have a lot of silver in your hair."  Thanks kid.  So I got up and hobbled around some and went back to rolling grounders. 

The next day, I was reading the list of benefits that Rich's company offers.  I've been interviewing for a job there, and it's been getting more real (although after ten months of job hunting, I can't tell you how many "sure things" have evaporated for increasingly ridiculous reasons).  Suddenly, I read a shocking benefit, and immediately ran to find Rich.

M: "You have a community service benefit!  Your company will pay you for 40 hours of community service!"   
R:  "Uh, well, yeah......." 
M:  "YOU could be getting PAID to COACH TBALL!"
R:  "uh, well, yeah, I guess......."
R:  "I'm very busy.........."

The thing I've since realized is that I actually kinda like coaching t-ball.  It's fun.  The kids are learning and having fun.  Elizabeth is gaining confidence.  And I'm getting exercise and sun and having fun, too.  And Andrew is waiting in the wings, ready to play. 

And now I'm going to contort this post to make it fit into the book club.  That's sort of the thing right there, isn't it?  I'm struggling to find work that provides good work/life balance, so that I can coach t-ball and (someday) be a girl scout leader and volunteer at school and go on field trips and just be there.  There are companies that offer family-friendly, community-oriented benefits.  There are companies that - on paper - offer part-time options.  But finding and then getting those benefits is not exactly easy.  Until employees - specifically, hard-driving, high-achieving, full-time employees in the companies - start pushing to take advantage of those opportunities, they are just words on piece of paper. The more people who overall take advantage of family-friendly policies, demonstrating success while keeping a reasonable work/life balance, the better it will be for everyone. 

The From Left to Write Book Club consists of over 100 bloggers who read books and then write posts inspired by the book (not a review of the book). This month's post was (well, partially) inspired by Good Enough is the New Perfect, by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple. As a member of the book club, I was given a free copy of the book.  I've only just started it, but already know I'm a "good enough" person, without a doubt.  This post is pretty disjointed and doesn't hang together well, but I'm two months behind in posts and quite honestly, it just has to be good enough! 


Thien-Kim aka Kim said...

You make a good point. Finding the jobs with those benefits are hard. I think making sure that the work culture supports taking advantage of those benefits is even trickier.

Glad you're enjoying coaching T-ball!

Elaine said...

I think the barrier is that bosses need to learn that for most jobs, they do not actually need to get in touch with someone immediately. We live in an instant gratification society. And I think it scares bosses to think that something will happen that they need their part-time employee and they'll be up a creek because the part time employee isn't working. Plus, these jobs are expensive for the company. My company, for example, provides me with a large office that is fully equipped. I sit in it an average of 3 days a week. It would be much more efficient for them to hire a full time person and get the overhead spread out over 5 days. It's not an insurmountable challenge (and companies do find ways around it), but it's another problem.

So...I agree. 100%. Until there are people proving these costs are worth it, it's going to be hard to get more companies on board.

April said...

I'm incredibly lucky that I have a great boss who gets it. And I get furious for those that work under bosses that don't. It just doesn't make sense to me.