Why I love work, and why work (hopefully) loves me.

The alarm goes off.  I remember when this used to make me scrunch even deeper into my nest of covers and groan.  But instead, I roll over, feed my Facebook addiction (I mean, something could have happened during the 7 or 8 hours I have been asleep!) and get out of bed, not a complaint to be heard, near nor far.  I tame my nest of curls, wash my face, get dressed, and, if I am super organized, make a nice hot soy chai to drink in the car during my (gasp!) 10 minute commute.  Madame President is usually still asleep at this time, another bonus.

So why all this compliance?  Why do I never experience a lame-ass case of the Mondays?  Because I work part-time.  And I don’t work Mondays.  Hah.

Yes.  I have it pretty good here.  And I am not writing this to brag.  I am writing this in the hopes of sharing what works for our family.  I work 3 1/2 days a week, instead of the usual obligatory 5.  The thought of working 5 days a week  now makes me shudder.  Does this make me a bad employee?  I think not.  This actually makes me a GREAT employee.

I now LOOK FORWARD to going to work most days.  I get to the office with a dang smile on my face and I am happy to be there.  I have an annoying bounce to my step and am productive with my work assignments.   I can focus on my tasks at hand and not worry constantly about my mommy to-do list.  Why?  Because I am not burnt out.  I am not tired (most of the time.  And if I am, it’s usually my own fault because I had one too many at happy hour. Or Madame has given me the rare 5 a.m. wake-up call).  I have had an extra day off to spend with my kid and get my shopping done (usually).  I have been able to have a playdate with a friend without cramming everything into one Saturday.  Being able to work 30 hours a week with a young child has given me enough time at home (although I would like more but let’s be reasonable), and enough time outside of my house to make me feel like a productive member of society.  And I really like it.

I realize that this is not  a possibility for most working moms (or dads).  Which sucks.  Many organizations do not offer part-time employment or parents have to work full-time because of financial obligations.  My employer has supported my need to work a reduced time-base and as a result, I can be at my best in both my worlds.  But, my husband and I have made sacrifices to make this feasible for us.  We live in a modest house (no McMansion for us!) and drive modest cars.  We take our lunches most days and I have become no stranger to the Grocery Outlet and other bargain venues I never dreamed I would be stepping foot in.  But to me, the small sacrifices are worth my sanity.  And my family and place of work reap the benefits.

To keep with the theme of busy families, I would like to share a great recipe that can either be prepared the night before and popped in the oven right when you get home from the office, or put together very easily about a 1/2 hour before dinnertime.  (We even had this tonight.)  I usually serve with rice pilaf and green peas from the freezer or steamed ready-cut broccoli.   And a bottle of  delicious $5 wine from Trader Joe’s (no more $15 weeknight bottles for us!).

Parmesan Dijon Chicken

1 cup bread crumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup melted butter

2/3 cup Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons Vermouth

4 whole chicken breasts (cut in half)

In a shallow pan, combine bread crumbs, cheese, and butter.  In another shallow pan, mix mustard and wine.  Dip chicken in mustard/wine mixture, and then in bread crumb mixture.  Arrange chicken pieces slightly apart in a greased (cooking spray is fine) baking dish.  (At this point you can cover and refrigerate).

Bake, uncovered at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center.  You can garnish with parsley and lemon if you are feeling fancy.

Serves 4-6.  Great leftovers too!

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