The Decisions I Don’t Regret – One Parent’s Take On Impossible Choices

I always wondered, and now I know. I always wondered when my daughter was young, would it really matter that I was there for the 4th grade school play or the Room Parent Meeting or the Spring School Concert or [insert life event here]? Whatever it was, I always knew one thing for sure. I always knew that it most certainly mattered to [insert work supervisor name here] that I was missing his meeting to be there.

Don’t we all wonder if any of the many choices we are forced to make as we carefully balance, juggle and navigate our “work” and “life” really matter? I have tried to be very thoughtful about each choice and never look back, but I always wished I could see into the future to know for sure. Would the benefit to my daughter be greater than the cost to my career? I wanted to know that it all would be worth it. It’s been over two decades. I always wondered, and now I know.

A bit about me. The week our daughter was born, we learned that my husband had a deadly form of cancer. We did everything we could to beat it, but all of the love, support and expert medical care we received could not save him. In the end, I found myself a widowed single mom of a 13-month old daughter and the Law Director of the City of Cleveland. I made a decision and a promise. I decided that I would be there for our daughter always—two parents in one. I promised that the time I spent away from her would mean something. I hoped someday she would be proud of me. Mostly, I wanted her world to be both big and small, and for her to believe that she could impact it in ways that mattered.

Sometimes I got it right, sometimes I didn’t. I was far from perfect, but I chose my daughter whenever I could. I had to accept that some conflicts were beyond my ability to reconcile. At the top of this list—the workday is longer than the school day. I had to work full-time to support us so my daughter went to “after school play” a few days a week when she was in primary school. Most of her friends went home with their moms at 3 p.m. She had a great time, but longed to go home with me right after school. Who could blame her, but it wasn’t going to happen for us back then.

ssjFor the others, I chose my daughter and dealt with the repercussions. At the top of this list – we always went to her doctor’s visits, planned and unplanned, together. I’ll never forget one particular time when I got the dreaded call from the school nurse in the middle of the afternoon to come pick up my daughter. She had a high fever and needed to see the doctor. I was the CEO of a large non-profit corporation with a full schedule of important meetings ahead of me that day. I turned to my top team, told them I had to leave and that I had confidence in them, and asked them to carry on without me. One senior member blurted out, “Can’t anyone else take her to the doctor? We need you here!” I shot back, “Of course, someone else can take her to the doctor. This is not about finding her a ride. She’s sick, she’s scared and she needs her mom. You all will be fine.”

Life went on full of school activities, play rehearsals, speech and debate tournaments, Irish dance competitions, dances, parties, travel and joy. I made it work with a lot of support from family and friends. My daughter grew up, graduated from high school and left for college. She will graduate soon and start life as a young professional in a new city. Our time together is far less now, but just as precious to us. I’m still working full-time, and still juggling, balancing and navigating ”work” and “life” when she is home.

So fast-forward to a few weeks ago. My daughter decided at the last minute to come home for three days over her Spring Break. She had a few commitments and lots of school work to do while home, so we agreed to spend her last full day home just doing fun stuff together. I got a call the day before asking if I would come to just one meeting at 1 p.m. on that day – I could even participate by phone if I preferred. It was an important meeting for a top-priority project on a tight timeframe that we all had been working so hard to move forward. I knew it would mean a lot to everyone involved if I participated in the meeting. I also knew that, even participating by phone, would change the entire day with my daughter.

We’ve all been there. You’ve planned time off with your daughter. A really important work meeting is scheduled during your time off. You and your daughter have big plans for your day together. Your work team really needs you at the meeting. What do you do?

Here’s what I did. I politely but firmly told them that I would not be available to participate in the meeting. More importantly, I told them why. I assured them that I would contact the people we were meeting with to explain (which I did) and follow up after the meeting about next steps (which I also did), but that was the best I could do. Everyone accepted my decision and moved on. I spent a wonderful day with my daughter, comfortable that I had done the right thing and trying not to think about what might happen the next day at work. So far, any one of us could be telling this story, right?

Now here is where it got interesting. After over 20 years of doing this, I didn’t think I could be surprised. But I was!

As I scanned my work email late that night to see what would be waiting for me after my daughter left the next day, I saw an email from Paul Clark, Regional President of PNC Bank. Paul had led the meeting I missed that day. The subject line of his email read, “Great Decision.” Here’s what he wrote:

Sharon, I was SO happy that you spent the day with your daughter! GREAT decision and I’m sure not without some level of anxiety. GREAT decision.

 You’re the role model to so many young women at PNC and I know they appreciate a decision like the one you made!

 My son, David, is coming home for spring break and I’m taking a day’s lesson from you and going to spend some quality day time with him!

If I were you, I’d do it tomorrow as well!


Wow! It meant so much to me. After all these years and as confident as I have become with my decisions, it still meant so much to me. But this time, I shared it with my daughter. I wanted her to know as she is getting ready to launch her own career that there are people out there that value people who make decisions like me. That led to another surprise.

A few weeks later, I was texting with my daughter. She is thinking a lot about the types of places she wants to work and teams she wants to be a part of as she actively searches for her first job after graduation. Unexpectedly, she sent me this text:

Also just told my roommates about how you didn’t take that meeting while I was home and how big an impact it had on the PNC guy. So important to see and so inspirational to me!

I always wondered when my daughter was young, would the benefit to my daughter be greater than the cost to my career? I wanted to know that it all would be worth it. It’s been over two decades. I always wondered, and now I know. It was – and still is!

Postscript: why share this story?

As parents, we are all too familiar with the stories about when it all falls apart – when it is harder than it should be, when the people that could easily help us out don’t, when “work” and “life” come crashing down around us. These struggles are real and important to share. At the same time, it is incredible to me that we are still having the same conversations about “work” and “life” that we had over twenty years ago when my daughter was born. This must change – not just the rules of the game, but the game itself.

After I received my daughter’s text, I shared it with Paul. His face lit up, and in his usual humble way, he responded, “It’s not just me. It’s our culture at PNC.” That kind of work culture is a game changer. So is leadership like Paul’s. Storytelling also can be a powerful catalyst for change. We need to tell more stories about the times when it all came together – when the people around us got it, when they didn’t ask us to make impossible choices, when they valued us enough to create with us new ways to do good work while we live good lives. That’s why I decided to share this story. I hope you will share yours.

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Sharon Sobol Jordan

Sharon is trying to make the world a better place for as long as she is in it. She is a devoted mom that strives to do meaningful work, and a dedicated professional that aspires to live a good life. Sharon is drawn to opportunities to work with others to create large scale, systems-level change that will last. She believes that every one of us can change the world in big and small ways when we are inspired and have someone that believes in us. She is inspired every day by her daughter, and does her best to pay it forward to others. When she is not working to change the world, Sharon enjoys every moment she spends with her daughter, traveling, taking photos, hiking with Dave and Charlie, and connecting with family and friends.

75 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Wonderful article, Sharon. Great message for all Moms out there struggling with what seem impossible decisions. All working parents at every income level face these same struggles and need to be validated and supported. I am glad you shared your story – and glad you enjoyed your day with Anne!

  • Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. I work in the non-profit/public sector and am the mom of an almost-5-year-old and a 4 month old. I very much admire Ms. Sobol Jordan, and did prior to reading this. It is wonderful to see community leaders like her and Paul Clark speaking out about work-life integration – and saying they are glad to make decisions that consider or are centered around their families! This blog post really made my day.

  • Thank you for sharing your story! I hope women take your word to heart. And, I would challenge themselves to ask (or simply say) when they need to miss work or adjust their schedules. I went down to a 4-day work week after my son was born. I kept that same schedule when my daughter came 17 months later. I was not only promoted but also carried this schedule to a different company. People made comments like, ‘well, aren’t you lucky.’ To which I replied, ‘or maybe I just asked?!’ Sure, my children at home or work ‘kids’ would keep me up all hours of the night sometimes but that comes with being passionate, concerned and dedicated to any job. Way to go Sharon!

    • Rachel, thanks for sharing that your work schedule is better aligned with your life because you asked. So important! I hope parents – both women and men – take this to heart. Thanks again, Sharon

  • As someone in the very early days of working to find balance between spending time with my child and pursuing my career ambitions, this was very inspiring (and reassuring). It takes courage to make your kids a priority, but it sets such a good example for those around you when you’re in a leadership role. Thank you for sharing!

  • Thank you for sharing your story. It was very real. I’m a working mom full time and I have a 3 year old son and 1 year old daughter and still I struggle with work life and balance. My husband is a teacher so his schedule allows him to be home earlier and vacations etc and family has helped us with childcare but I always carry this guilt with me of wanting to be with them. But I do realize what’s important to me and I won’t miss any of their school events or when they are sick ill be home with them and you certainly just made feel like what I’m doing is ok – it’s not perfect but you can still work and be involved in your children’s life. They mean the world to me they are my life and I work for them not because I love my job to be honest. I wish my employer was a bit more flexible but I’m doing my best. My problem is I’ve wanted to ask to work from home 1 day a week but my boss I don’t believe would be welcome to it as she’s been with company for 30 years. Any advice?

    • Julie, thanks so much for sharing a bit of your story. Based upon what you have shared, the best advice I can offer is that you should consider having the conversation with your boss to explore what is possible. She might surprise you! Thanks again, Sharon

    • @ Julie — I am in a similar situation! I work full-time and have a 4-year old and 2-year old. My husband is a college professor and has the ideal schedule (summers off, home two days/week); I often find myself envious if how much more time he spends with his children. I do have a flexible employer and am grateful for that. It’s so hard to reconcile work and family life — take it day by day and try to talk openly to your boss. Demonstrate how you can successfully work from home one day/week and offer to revisit the subject if she feels it is not working.

      @ Sharon – thank you for this wonderful post! It is an awesome reminder that our children always come first and that – yes – we should have the courage of our convictions to stand up to what we believe! I’m so glad you took that day off!

  • BRAVO Sharon, well done! We need a strong voice like yours to assure us that it is OK to make the family-work balance decisions that are best for us. What a better place it would be if the world were full of leaders like you and Paul to encourage/support/congratulate us when we make the difficult decision that favors the best interests of our child/elderly parent/sick friend over a work matter. We still have a long way to go, but with your leadership and wise words, we are moving in the right direction. And how proud Anne must be of her mother. Keep clearing our path Sharon!

  • You’ve made a lifetime of GREAT decisions, Sharon, as we who have been fortunate to know you, your terrific daughter, and your wonderful family have seen time and again. Included among them was your writing and sharing your words and thoughts, and Paul’s and Anne’s. Congratulations and Thank You!

  • This is an interesting read. I don’t think this open culture is everywhere. I work full+ time (workday is never finished) and have two kids.

    I never tell people I’m working from home because of sick kids, etc. I’m just “working at home”. As a woman, I don’t want to be labeled as “the mom” who can’t hold her weight at work because she’s got kids.

    Contrary to when guys at work mention staying home for their kids — they are praised as being such wonderful, caring fathers.

    This is something that I haven’t really been able to work through, and sometimes I can’t tell if it really is the culture at work or if it’s my own perception.

  • Balancing the roles of a parent and professional is a struggle every day. In my eyes, it’s at its most prominent when you’ve got sick kids. The need to pull back on a dime exposes your most vulnerable weakness as a working parent: that you have a priority that’s greater than any work responsibility. While I hate those days because they add a layer of complexity to existing havoc, they also bring a silver lining of clarity. You learn not only what you’re made of, but who your biggest advocates and obstacles are. Kudos to moms, managers and companies everywhere that recognize you can be a strong talent while staying loyal to your family.

  • I found Sharon to be an inspiration from the moment I met her as I was founding The Gatherung Place. She “went all in” to help establish our organization because she knew the importance of helping and healing a family touched by cancer. Sharon continues to be a champion for SO many in our community! Bravo!

  • Thank you for sharing, Sharon. As a young parent expecting his second child in a couple of weeks this is all very timely.

    My wife and I have been faced with MANY sick-day scenarios since our first child started daycare and have had many rapid-fire discussions about whose day is easier to clear of work obligations to take care of him. One time I was in a meeting after returning to work after taking care of my son. I wasn’t up-to-speed on the discussion since I was out of the office. One my colleagues said, “Well, Mike wasn’t here. He was babysitting.” Another time someone offered the unsolicited suggestion of hiring an au pair or nanny, implying that I should find ways to be more available at work.

    I think this speaks to your point that 20 years after you had to start making these tough decisions, those decisions are still there to be made. It’s terrific that leaders like you and Paul recognize what really matters – but, unfortunately, I feel the two of you are the exception. There is still an expectation of “sacrifice” in order to get ahead – which is fine except for the fact that neglecting your children’s needs (physical or emotional) isn’t optional.

    Thanks for writing this and offering the perspective. I’ll use this example to continue to fight the good fight.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. As a recent college graduate and aspiring physician (and former classmate of Anne’s), I often find myself discussing with my mother “can women dedicate themselves 100% to BOTH a busy family life and a fulfilling work schedule?” The unfair dichotomy that society places on women that they can only perform exceptionally well professionally or as a mother is untrue, but unfortunately is a bias that still exists. Thank you for leading with example and reminding women to stay true to their priorities when navigating the delicate work-life balance.

  • Sharon – having worked for you for more than three years, I can personally say that you taught me not only how to be a better business woman but you taught me quite a bit about being a mom. As a new mom, I watched how you put your daughter first and how clear and deliberate you were about the decisions you made. It taught me to be less afraid to admit that I had family obligations and to be proud of myself when I did make the right decision. Thank you so much for sharing this story – it’s clear that so many women are struggling with this still today and it’s important we continue to talk about it!

    • Amy, I have learned as much from you as you have from me. Thank you for providing the forum for this amazing conversation. I have been overwhelmed by the response, and hope it will encourage others to share their stories. I can’t thank you and enough. Sharon

  • Sharon from the first time I met you as a guardian ad litem for the courts, you became my hero. I have watched your career grow, your devotion to your husband and daughter was and is an inspiration. You are a role model to young woman, single moms, career woman . You made it all look like a day at the beach even when it wasn’t . I am in awe ! Especially that I can call you a friend.

  • Sharon what a great story and a real piece of life. I work with parents everyday helping them juggle work and family. If only other companies and employers could embrace the flexibility of work and family –just imagine the richness of children’s lives and hopefully the decline of violence and children not seen or heard. Thank you for sharing!!

  • Beautifully stated, Sharon. As a working and traveling mom of three young boys, I get it. I too try to make ‘great decisions.’ Yes, for work, but mostly for home. It’s good to know that someday, it will be recognized. Thank you for sharing!

  • I was so happy to read this story! I wish all business leaders would read it and take it to heart! It’s sad that businesses that say they are supportive of family turn out not to be! As a working mom, time with my teenagers is so important but my company doesn’t always see it as a necessary thing!! It’s just as important now as when they were little and more dependent on me!

  • I just love this story. It can be challenging balancing work and family and this article is a great example of how the workplace is changing for some. I think some workers have a hard time unplugging now that there are so many easy ways to stay connected. I worked for Pnc years ago and have a lot of respect for Paul. He’s great guy and pillar in the community!

  • Wonderful piece, Sharon. All yours in the particulars, but so many parents’ story in the narrative arc. (I’m raising my hand.) Thank you for writing this.

    • As one of the many people that continues to be inspired by your words, I truly appreciate your kind comment about my story. Thank you, Connie.

  • She sounds like a lovely woman, but wouldn’t it be great if ALL women and men had the ability to makes these choices? It shouldn’t just be for professional women, but for everyone; people in the PNC call center, tellers, maintainence staff, county workers. It sounds like Sharon is in the position to make these changes occur. I hope she does!

  • Heartening story for all the women who find themselves in these common situations. I remember the anxieties, but I remember better the satisfied feeling of being exactly where I needed to be.

  • I have been trying to get my employer on board with flexing my schedule to help my two children one with significant disability, so far no luck. I have been able to block my schedule occasionally for school events so that is a blessing. I just need a bit more flexibility with therapy etc. Thank you for the article I will be sharing.

    • The author is clearly a great mom and executive. In fairness, however, there are situations where family and work simply can’t be joined so well.
      – Some examples:
      – The child has a significant mental/developmental health issue.
      – There is no extended family in town to help out.
      – A parent suffers from a chronic, but relapsing and remitting problem (ex. MS, lupus, depression, etc.)
      -A parent is not highly educated, and has a low- level job with no ability for flexibility.
      -The child is bullied, and parents need to be involved with the school on a random, but frequent basis.

  • Thanks so much Sharon for sharing such a personal, yet much needed message to the parents of today. You just don’t get those moments back…everyday with those we love is precious. Love to both you and Ann.

  • It is so inspiring balancing Career with care for family.parent being a cushion in times of hardships of children, and to acknowledge every problem of child and keeping open the connectivity ,so that children feel free to express their problems for which we can guide them in a right are a inspiration for all the parents and working

  • Thanks for sharing and I need to get my husband to read this. He gives me grief when I miss work to be at my daughter’s school events. BUT I do it anyway and considering I’m a self-employed physician and he runs my practice and doesn’t volunteer to take my place… well he should be ashamed of himself.

  • Well said. Thank you for sharing and encouraging others to evolve in the work place. Time is so precious and those moments with your children, no matter how old they are, can’t always be made up.

  • Lovely story, Sharon, and important for people to hear. All too often, employees, at all levels of an organization, are fearful that they will lose respect on the job for not “putting the job first”. I always made a point of “doing whatever it takes” to cover my absences due to my son’s significant events, and over many years as a nonprofit leader, insisted that employees “put their families first.” My experience has been that most people expect the exact opposite from their supervisor, based on their previous experiences in the workplace. I have also found that encouraging people to be there for their families creates trust, deepens their commitment to the job, and builds loyalty, all of which, in the long run, are much more important than whatever it is that they are missing in order to be at their son’s well-child care visit, or their daughter’s concert. Thank you, for being both a parent AND a community leader, and for inspiring managers and employees to think twice before “burning the midnight oil” at the expense of their families! It’s an inspiring story, and very well told.

  • Love this, Sharon. It’s a good reminder on challenging days that maybe I am doing something right. You and Paul have taught me so much. Thank you!

  • This. So much this.

    Your article was sent to me after a fellow working Mom read my FB status rant:
    Soap Box Alert: As I age/mature I have become more and more of an unabashed work-from-home-mom. Yes, I have a job. Yes, I am also a mom. No, I won’t apologize anymore. The kid you hear slamming the door is the whole reason I am in this field – his future is my vocation. I wont apologize. The toddler you hear watching Dora the Explorer in the background needs a roof over her head and food on her plate that I have to provide with my job. I wont apologize. The baby you hear crying is being well tended to by a wonderful person I trust who knows that cry means it is naptime. I wont apologize. That big bark behind me that sounds like it shakes the whole house is my dog – but really he is my home security system and keeps my family safe. I wont apologize!!!! I work from home. I value work-life balance and so does the organizataion I work for. I add value, not time – I offer skills, I dont complete tasks. I wont apologize!!! It is time we redefine “working parent” and “working moms” in particular. I truely believe it is up to MY GENERATION OF WOMEN to set a new norm, establish a new definition of “professionalism” and set a new path for our working daughters that is unapologetic for being skilled and valuable enough to be good at both being a mom and being an employee. I think it starts with becoming unaplogetic. So, my challenge to myself moving forward, when I qualify “that noise” in the background do it with a little more pride and a little less guilt. If it wasnt for all that “noise” I wouldnt even be on that call. The noise is THE reason. End speech.

    In the comments I talk about the importance of culture in an organization to make it possible in response to another working/student/mom:
    :Im totally conflicted about this. But I have found that I lose some, I win some, I share some. Maybe I missed a first because I was in school, for example. I gained a title “Master Mom” which is enduring and precious to me. Some things I didnt miss out on – both by chance and because I created them. And some I shared! Like when RoseLynn took her first steps and I was on a call with my boss, another work from home mom with a baby born one week before RoseLynn. We shared that moment even though she was on the phone! I didnt hang up, I put it on speaker and let my boss cheer too. 🙂 In that sense, my soap box speech is only possibly becasue of the great support I have around me – especially at work. I know that is not only the case and Im so very thankful. <3 I love everything you are doing. Strong mama = strong daughter. You set a wonderful model of patience, persistince, and balance. Well done!

    So kudos to you Sharon. And to PNC. And to The Conservation Fund. And to every mom and organization that are together redefining parenting in their work cultures. Bravo!!!

  • The best part of this story is that Sharon walks the talk! I joined her team at The Centers 9.5 years ago. I was only with the agency for 8 months when I got the call of a life time, to be the foster to adoptive mom for my angel on earth Kiara. Not only did Sharon offer guidance and support during my family leave, she understood that family time was as important as the critical work we were doing on behalf of this community.
    She did not once call me during my family leave time to discuss work. When I called into work during this leave, her mantra was always ‘ We miss you but enjoy this family leave time.’ No guilt about all the extra work she and others were doing during my absence.

    Sharon is the real deal! She understands and respects that working parents have a hard balancing act between work and family.

    Each of us must walk the talk and support staff that are daily facing tough decisions balancing work and family. And we need be gentler to ourselves as parents.

    Lastly, let’s make system changes -take the courage to change HR policies so all staff at all levels can be his / her best at work AND at home.

  • I’m pretty sure I’ve never commented on a blog before but I loved this so much I can’t help it. I have an 11 month old daughter and I am an executive with a high-pressure job. This morning, my daughter’s day care had a “parents breakfast” and I decided to go and be late for work… I definitely felt that anxiety you wrote about… Thanks for helping me feel validated in that decision. Juggling is so hard.

  • Sharon: As a mom whose sons are now in their twenties, it seems that even now, moms continue to be needed…. the story line of how we have to choose continues even after their pediatrician visits turn into college visits, or new job searches, various life crises, moving away, marriages, grandchildren…etc. In other words, the importance of family first never diminishes, it just matures. 30 years ago when I started out as a young banker only a couple of years out of undergrad, the thought of having a leader like Paul Clark or a Sharon Sobol Jordan at the helm was unthinkable. So even though some of the bias about women having to “do it all to have it all” remains, you have reminded us all that it’s us who make the right choices along the way, and that hopefully we get to work for supportive and courageous leaders like you and Paul Clark. I’m fortunate and grateful to have that in my work as well. Thanks for writing this and sharing your inspiration.

  • What an awesome read. I work at PNC Bank and know Paul personally. He is a great guy. And yes….PNC is all about work-life balance. Family comes first and foremost and that’s why I have been here for almost 14 years. I read your story and think about my decisions and my own family. Trying to balance work, husband and four kids and all of their stuff, it does get crazy but in the end its life and I don’t regret any of it!

  • My little one is 4 months old. My manager sent me this yesterday. She’s always encouraging me to enjoy every moment with my baby. Its so very hard to balance career and family. Thank you for this story – it came to me at the perfect time.

  • This is a great story, and I hope many working moms will read it and feel empowered to follow her example. But it is just as important–maybe even more important–for managers and supervisors and executives to read this and follow her example, because they are the ones who stand in the way of so many women even having the option to make this choice. Being pressured by your employees to attend a meeting is not the same as being pressured by your boss, the one who writes your review and determines your salary and decides whether to renew your contract. They are the ones who have the power to make this even possible. And if more dads took turns going to doctor’s appointments, it would make the decision to be with family more common and therefore more acceptable.

    So I’m glad this is posted in a blog for women. But it also needs to be published in a magazine for executives.

  • Sharon, I just loved reading your story. As a mother of 3 it really moved me. I am a women’s Health Coach here in Cle and trying to balance/juggle life and work is one of the biggest issues I help my clients deal with. We are all just trying to do our best and make the best decisions. I think what you discussed is closely linked to the topic of self care. About valuing ourselves, seeing worth in our decisions, having a self love practice. As women we tend to put everyone else’s needs before our own. If you are interested I would be very happy to talk to your staff or a group of women who you think would benefit about the importance of a self care practice. We need to spread the message to women that it’s ok to prioritize their own needs and the needs of their families. Just loved your story.
    Sara Green

  • Great post, Sharon! The struggle is real sometimes. I faced a similar situation just a few short weeks ago when my mom was hospitalized in a different state. As a school leader, I really didn’t want anyone to have to do their work and mine. Thankfully, my choice was easy — family first! I have a great team to work with, so that lessened the anxiety associated with being away for two weeks.

  • Sharon your story brought tears to my eyes. As you know I too am a single working mom who often asked herself the same questions. Thank you for sharing your insights and support of those important decisions we have made along the way. I too was fortunate to work for a company that supported decisions concerning family/work life. Key. Henry Meyer helped me to keep decisions in perspective and for that I am grateful especially when my daughter was ill. We are blessed with beautiful, intelligent, strong daughters who I am certain will feel similar responsibilities to there families in the future and will make the right decisions at the time. Thanks for your friendship and for sharing your story.

  • Good for you! I have made (and will make) similar decisions with respect to my sons’ high school activities (espcially sports). I think that my colleagues and clients respect those decisions and my sons appreciate them.

  • I am a recently widowed mother of two small children as well. My husband just passed two weeks ago and I was previously a stay at home mom. Thank you for showing me – it can be done. My family’s entire life has been thrown upside down, so as we move forward thank you for showing us- even big companies care about family.

    • Bria, Thank you for sharing a bit about your story. My heart truly goes out to you. Your children are so fortunate to have you, particularly now. I am so glad that you were encouraged by my story. Take care, Sharon

  • Sharon’s words are a very powerful reminder of the need for all of us to assert boundaries in our lives and to respect the boundaries of others. Over the past 35 years, I’ve had the privilege of hiring and working with many extremely talented, hard-working superstars. Each of them had something in common- they politely but firmly asserted their work-life boundaries, and the importance that their families played in their lives. While a number of them were men, most of them were women, and at the top of that stellar list is Sharon Sobol Jordan. During the many years we worked closely together at the Center for Families and Children, Sharon never once allowed her devotion to our mission and work interfere with her even more important personal mission of being there for her family. Balancing the need for fulfillment in our personal and professional lives is challenging for both men and women, but despite the great progress we’ve made as a society, it remains a far greater challenge for working women than men. My wife Peggy has balanced her role as a successful business and nonprofit executive with her role as an extraordinary mother, daughter, sister, and wife, with remarkable grace and skill.

  • I began Working for Levin furniture when my daughter was eight years old. This great company allowed me to leave in the middle of the day or when ever I needed to leave to attend my daughters basketball and baseball games . If she had something special going on they let me go. My daughter has just completed her third year of college. I have to say it does matter very much! Just recently she said mama you were always there for me. She said she watched the Bleecher seats and waited for me to come because She knew I would be there! she told me she wants to raise her children the same way and be there for them the way I was there for her . I felt so proud! Thanks for sharing your story with me.! I hope you enjoyed mine.

  • Great article. As I sit here, an empty nester, I applaud and support all parents choices. What I know now is the time goes by faster than I realized. You can never get it back…

  • I 100% commend you for making the decision to spend the day with your daughter. Family should come first. More companies should allow for this type of flexibility. I personally do not work for this type of company. I work in an office as an assistant. This company that still requires only it non exempt employee to clock in and out. As a non-exempt employee you can not work from home, where as the exempt employee can. As a non-exempt employee you earn PTO (Paid Time Off) hours for each hour you work. The total yearly hours are based on your years with the company. The total PTO Hours are accrued hourly for non-exempt employees, where as the exempt employees get all of there time Jan 1 of each year. There is no “sick time” bucket. Your vacation, personal, and sick time all come out of this PTO bucket. After 3 days of being sick and out of the office you are put on short term disability (and get paid as such). You pray everyday there are no emergencies, no one is sick, and if they are you can get an evening appointment. You go to work sick yourself because you can not afford to take the PTO, just in case an unexpected emergency happens.

  • Thank you for this post Sharon. I know what it is like to be a single mom running a company and trying to be where you need to be for all the people who need you to be there. In fact, I started my own company so I could manage my own schedule and be able to experience those magic moments during the day … like walking up to the elementary school and picking up my daughter and walking home.

    Hurray for your words … for your integrity … and your presence. We do have a choice every moment and every day as to where we focus our energy and our time. You have made so many great choices … and posting this was just another one of those great choices.

    I am an empty nester now and my children are starting their own lives … marriage, children of their own. As crazy as it was at times when they were young, I find myself missing those moments of really being together.

  • Thank you so much for this – I am lucky that I have a husband that is incredibly supportive of my career, which takes me on the road, throughout the US a lot, and I a mean A LOT! I have to say that I just took a position 6 months ago that I now work from a home office because we have a 5 and 6 year old and I found that I was missing too many “mommy moments” and that it was sitting with me more than my kids.

    I am so blessed that I have an employer that completely supported me saying “I can be there, but I need to leave by 9:30am on the dot, not a minute later” so that I could drive back from Rochester NY to Cleveland to not miss a second of my son’s kindergarten concert. In a world of choices, being good to your employees is one that too many employers see as “costing” them, but I tell you that this builds loyalty in your team…and a happier parent is definitely going to be a more productive employee!

    Thank you again, I read this through tears knowing in my heart that my temporary pay cut will give me more time to be there for my kids and to not miss any moments.

  • This isn’t realistic for most people. When you are in a position of leadership you can delegate when necessary. When you punch a clock at the bottom of the ladder, it’s not. It’s great that Sharon is in a position to out her daughter first but most people can’t leave early or take a day off, or they don’t get paid. Or they use all of their vacation days taking care of sick kids and dont get to travel or have real, quality downtime. I am tired of hearing stories about women (and men) in high level positions who make decisions the rest of us wish we could make the people who work under them can only dream of having those options.

    • I was a Mr Mom and I want to let everybody know this hit me hard because I rember some friends of my wife and mine that had to make the hardiest things to even think about with there child that I rember thinking I was so blessed but also so scared because you never know what could happen to you at any moment with your children . I want you to know that what they did for there child was the most amazing thing I ever came across. The love and comment meant to there family was the most incredible thing I ever wittiness

    • We need to change the culture for ALL in the workplace, regardless of position in a company. Many European countries give as much as 6 weeks paid leave every year. In those places it is much easier to work full time while having the time to prioritize family

  • Thank you for this piece. I wish I came across more leaders like you when I was juggling a full time career and two children. None of my professional role models had children and I found myself locked in a culture where work usually came before my children. I ended up quitting my job to stay home because the pressure was too much to handle. I’d probably still have my career today if I learned to be firm and set boundaries.

  • This winter I hit blAck ice and spun out of control. I was not seriously hurt, but I had sprained both my ankles and it was impossible to use crutches since my neck and shoulders were in such awful pain. Monitoring recess was impossible. I ended up going in to school without the crutches and the feet never really healed. Why. Because I needed that time off for my daughter’s surgery. She had reconstructive surgery on her lower and upper jaw. I am so glad I was there when she was vomiting blood post op. I am glad you have had support in your choices. So many jobs do not show that type of support.

  • Thank you so much for writing this article. I too can relate to the struggle and am now in an even more conundrum. I am fighting breast cancer, trying to be a good employee, a good wife, and good mom. Cancer effects everyone, not just the patient. I have a phenomenal employer and support system but the balance between home & work is fragile. Give too much to one and the other suffers. For example if I push too hard I physically can’t continue & my young kids actually panic if mom sleeps too much.
    Your article gave me hope that there is a way to find a balance without hurting those you love the most. ♡ Tricia

  • Yes! Thank you for confirming that it DOES matter! I too was widowed with young children and working my dream job. I made the terribly difficult decision to leave that job for one with more flexibility, when I came to the realization that it just did not work for my family. I miss it far less than expected, and far less than I missed my children and their activities. It was the best decision I could’ve made to be able to go to my children at the drop of a hat when they needed me.

  • I loved it ! Thank you Sharon for sharing this. I wish we all could spend more time with our kids and BE there for them. Decisions,decisions,decisions … Have a beautiful day 🙂

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