Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Working Mom Worried About Missing Son's First Day

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 3-year-old son will start preschool in two weeks, and I am worried that I may not be able to take him on the first day. The company I work for is particular about people being late or missing time from work. I run the risk of being reprimanded if I decide to take my son to his first day of school, but I will be sad if I do not take him. What is a single mom to do? -- First Day of School Blues, Memphis, Tenn.

DEAR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL BLUES: Wow, I hope I am not responding to you too late. But here goes: Be pre-emptive. Speak to your boss immediately and ask for permission to come to work late on that day. While it makes perfect sense that your company expects you to come to work on time, it is also possible that they will understand if you ask in advance.

Because you are a parent, you need to establish a relationship with your company that will make it possible for you to leave in case of emergency. Trust that when you have children, there are almost always times when you will need to leave early or not come to work in order to care for your child -- unless you have someone who can cover for you. If you are able to establish a respectful rapport with your boss now, where it is obvious that you do a great job when you are there and make up for it when you are not, you stand a greater chance of receiving that much-needed flexibility.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I made a terrible mistake of quitting my job in the fashion industry and moving out of New York City to live with my girlfriend in Boston. Now I am miserable. My life has not been the same since I moved to Boston. I have squandered all my money trying to please my girlfriend only to find out that she was cheating on me. I plan to go back to New York and try to find a job and a place to live, but I have a small problem. I have no friends who I can ask to stay with while I try to back on my feet. I am embarrassed about my current situation. If I can get back to New York, I know I can get back on my feet, but I do not know what first step should be. Please help. -- Fool in Love, Boston

DEAR FOOL IN LOVE: Starting over can be excruciating, especially when you feel duped. You need to slow down and survey your landscape. What can you do in order to stabilize your income and make a strategic plan for moving? You should not move back to New York with no resources and nowhere to lay your head. Instead, work where you are. Move -- if you haven't already -- into a small, affordable space. Save every penny you can. Stay away from your ex. Surround yourself with positive people. Put out feelers for work where you are, in New York and elsewhere in your area of expertise.