Work & Family (A Special Report): Getting By
                   ---
                   Rush Hours:
                   For Jacinta and Sam Mathis, Having It All Means
                   Doing It All, With Barely Enough Time to Rest
                   By Joan E. Rigdon

                   06/21/1993
                   The Wall Street Journal
                   PAGE R13
                   (Copyright (c) 1993, Dow Jones & Co., Inc.)
 

                  ORLANDO, Fla. -- In a subdivision here down the freeway from
                   Universal Studios, the lights are out in all the look-alike houses except
                   one: Jacinta Mathis, mother of two, wife and commercial-contracts
                   lawyer, has risen at 3 a.m. to study case law for two hours.

                   These hours are the only ones she has to concentrate on her reams of
                   reading material, or do her share of the dishes and housework. Only six
                   months into her new job at this city's largest law firm, Mrs. Mathis is out
                   to make her mark, logging 60 to 70 hours a week. It's a career she and
                   her husband, Sam, paid for dearly, spending nearly $12,000 in tuition and
                   enduring nearly three years of a commuter marriage so she could earn her
                   degree. "I have a career now," she says. "It's more than just a job."

                   Juggling that with seats on four civic organizations (a sports commission,
                   the Chamber of Commerce, a public-schools foundation and a judicial
                   nominating commission), teaching a finance class, leading her
                   nine-year-old daughter's Brownie troop and chauffeuring her
                   two-year-old son to day care requires a binder-sized calendar. Her
                   briefcase is so big that it stretches the regulations for carry-on luggage.
                   Harried Husband Her husband is harried, too. An architect who
                   coordinates the design and construction of General Mills restaurants (Red
                   Lobster, for instance), he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. most weekdays, and
                   works until 5 p.m. He is president of two boards (for an employee
                   association and an affordable housing group) and sits on two others (for a
                   children's ranch and a homeless coalition). He helps his wife teach the
                   finance course on Tuesday nights, sharpens his speaking skills at a
                   Toastmaster's club Wednesday mornings, and picks up the children from
                   day care and school. He keeps it all together with two computerized
                   calendars.

                   The price: Like dual-career couples elsewhere, the Mathises are finding it
                   takes superhuman effort to balance their careers and family. The average
                   couple spends only 1.9 hours a day with their children, compared to 10
                   hours for work and commuting, according to Priority Management
                   Systems Inc., a management consulting firm based in Bellevue, Wash.

                   The Mathises are no exception. Most days, they see their children --
                   Jacinta Camille and Elliott -- for an hour in the morning and one or two
                   hours in the evening. On Tuesdays, when they teach their evening finance
                   class, Mrs. Mathis sees her children only in the morning, and that time is
                   spent rushing out the door. Weekday dinners tend to be Stouffer's frozen,
                   Domino's delivered or McDonald's behind the wheel. "We probably
                   don't plan meals as well as we should," Mr. Mathis says.

                   When Mrs. Mathis is preparing for a trial, or Mr. Mathis is negotiating
                   with contractors on deadline, they have to think twice about dropping
                   things because a child doesn't feel well. One Thursday in April, Mr.
                   Mathis had to choose between taking his daughter home from school to
                   nurse her upset stomach, or meeting with an architect and subcontractors
                   to prevent a costly project delay.

                   Guessing correctly that Jacinta Camille had only a mild stomach ache,
                   Mr. Mathis compromised by taking her a bottle of Pepto-Bismol on his
                   lunch break. But it wasn't easy to say "no" to her request. "We are
                   concerned at times how she responds to that," he says.

                   To make up for hectic Tuesdays, the Mathises spend most of the rest of
                   the week at home, which is a bit squeezed: Mrs. Mathis usually gets
                   home around 6:30 and goes to bed by 9:30, an hour after her daughter
                   does; Mr. Mathis picks up the children, gets them home by about 6 p.m.,
                   and stays up until midnight.

                   That means all four are usually together for just two evening hours, from
                   6:30 to 8:30. They use the time to have sit-down dinners, chat about their
                   days and help Jacinta Camille with homework or crises, like the time a
                   classmate called her a "girl dog" at school. Instead of channel surfing, "we
                   are with one another," Mrs. Mathis says.

                   She makes "dates" with her daughter once every week or two, so they
                   can go out alone and talk, or just have fun getting their hair done. Also,
                   Mrs. Mathis goes on some of her daughter's field trips, making up for the
                   lost time by working late into the evening.

                   If something must be squeezed out of the Mathises' treacherous schedule,
                   they work hard to make sure it isn't their children. In general, evening
                   board meetings are out. Choir practice was dropped when it interfered
                   with Jacinta Camille's heavy homework nights.

                   Sometimes the Mathises wrench their calendars around to attend their
                   children's most important events. One weekend in April, Mrs. Mathis
                   was supposed to fly to Indianapolis for a sports commission business trip,
                   prepare a pleading for a big client, and lead her Brownie troop on a
                   camping trip -- her daughter's first ever.

                   She went on the business trip, flew back Saturday, caught up with the
                   Brownies that afternoon, camped with them through Monday, and slept
                   the evening. To finish the pleading, she woke up at midnight, drove to the
                   office and worked until 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. Then she went home for a
                   30-minute nap, helped Mr. Mathis get the kids up and returned to work
                   for a full day.

                   Mrs. Mathis would rather lose sleep than miss times like that. Being so
                   busy means "the time you do spend is precious," she says.

                   Mr. Mathis, whose own father left home when he was two years old,
                   tries to spend most evenings with his children even if it means going back
                   to work after a ball game. "I don't have a lot of time with my kids, and if I
                   had to work late, I'd get home after they were asleep," he says. "I'd quit
                   General Mills right now if it meant keeping my family together."

                   A look at one of the Mathises' days shows the kind of Herculean effort
                   required to "have it all." It's a Tuesday -- the night they teach their finance
                   class -- but the day begins like all others.

                   5:30 a.m.: Mr. Mathis, who wakes instantly with his alarm, marches into
                   the kitchen to unload the dishwasher and make breakfast. On the menu:
                   hard-boiled eggs, bacon and toast. Mrs. Mathis, up from her morning
                   nap, wanders in and plops on the living-room couch, heavy lidded as she
                   eyes the open law books she was studying less than an hour earlier.

                   While her husband is at the sink, Mrs. Mathis puts her books away, finds
                   some white overalls that Jacinta Camille needs for an art project at
                   school, folds a load of laundry and sets out a gift for her daughter:
                   baseball cards from a sports-commission dinner she attended the evening
                   before.

                   Breakfast happens in shifts, since Mrs. Mathis has to iron her suit, Jacinta
                   Camille's hair needs braiding and Elliottthe wild card in an otherwise
                   regimented schedule -- cries and tries to jump off his seat at the table as
                   soon as he is put there. "We never know how he's going to wake up,"
                   Mr. Mathis says.

                   Only a few minutes of cuddling will do, and Mrs. Mathis is happy to do it,
                   using the time to get her own quick rest. That shaves two minutes off her
                   schedule.

                   7 a.m.: Mr. Mathis clears the table, except for his wife's place, which
                   remains untouched. She's rushing to make a 7:45 breakfast meeting at the
                   members-only Citrus Club, with a fellow member of the public-schools
                   foundation. The agenda: scaling back her hours, because she needs more
                   time for work. She hesitates to say whether her schedule is maximum
                   capacity or simply comfortable. But she concedes that all the civic
                   activities are starting to pile up. "I felt like I was doing too much," she
                   says.

                   She whisks Elliott into her room and emerges with both of them dressed.
                   Before running out the door, she has enough time to tell Jacinta Camille
                   that she can only take some of her baseball cards to school, and to
                   remember to put on stockings or socks before putting on her shoes. She
                   has 45 minutes to drop off Elliott at day care and make her meeting. Mr.
                   Mathis yells after her to leave the boy's car seat at day care.

                   On her way to downtown Orlando, Mrs. Mathis discovers that her hem
                   is unraveled. "This cannot happen to me. Not at the Citrus Club," she
                   recalls thinking. She saves the thread, borrows a needle from Elliott's day
                   care and sews at the stoplights.

                   Back at home, Mr. Mathis, wearing an apron over his suit, is trying to
                   pump up the back tire of Jacinta Camille's bicycle so she can ride to
                   school with a friend. The pump is broken, so his daughter, wearing a pink
                   dress, goes back into the house to cancel her first appointment of the day.
                   After two years of answering the phones when her mother had a private
                   practice, Camille, less than four feet tall, is all business. "I can't ride to
                   school because my tire's flat," she explains to her friend's answering
                   machine.

                   Then she stands in the kitchen, waiting for her father. Distracted, he starts
                   to walk her back out to the garage to her bicycle, before realizing he has
                   already tried that. He drives her to school instead.

                   8:30 a.m.: Mrs. Mathis is preparing for a real-estate trial for one of her
                   biggest clients. She must meet with witnesses, review trial documents and
                   examine exhibits of expert witnesses. Lunch is no break, since Tuesdays
                   are reserved for staff meetings, although the firm provides lunch. She
                   won't wind down until 6:30.

                   The back-to-back meetings make it hard for her to break away for her
                   children. One recent day she did leave work early because Jacinta
                   Camille complained of a stomach ache. But later that day, Jacinta Camille
                   asked for permission to play. "That stomach ache was of questionable
                   origin," Mrs. Mathis says, only partly amused. "But I want her to feel free
                   to call me, even it is of questionable origin."

                   More than 10 miles away, Mr. Mathis is gathering lease agreements and
                   other legal documents for contractors who are building a new restaurant
                   in Texas. One pressing problem: A restaurant's sewage system must be
                   redesigned so it ties into a city line. Mr. Mathis spends part of his day
                   negotiating with building-department officials, his contractor and an
                   engineer on the project.

                   4:30 p.m.: Mr. Mathis is waiting for his wife to check in so they can
                   match schedules. The plan is to pick up and feed the children, teach a
                   finance class and return home. It sounds simple, but it involves six car
                   trips, more than 50 miles, and about 5 1/2 hours. In the middle of
                   planning it, Mr. Mathis must field phone calls and questions from
                   colleagues on the progress of different construction projects. To keep up
                   with all the details, he keeps notes in his computer, on a
                   time-management software program his company paid for.

                   When Mrs. Mathis calls, she says she forgot to leave Elliott's car seat at
                   day care. "Tsk, tsk, tsk, we're going to have a child at risk," Mr. Mathis
                   says. What's more, his wife hasn't reviewed the evening's finance-class
                   lesson.

                   5 p.m.: Mr. Mathis zips out of the office. The day care charges him $1 for
                   every minute he leaves Elliott beyond 6 p.m. Five minutes are lost when
                   he realizes he has left his keys in the office. In his 1985 Honda Accord,
                   he takes a left turn across two lanes of oncoming traffic, noses into a
                   30-mph traffic jam, and arrives at the day care at 5:38, 22 minutes before
                   the late charges kick in.

                   Inside, Elliott is waiting with a purple snake he made in art class, his
                   baseball cap still firmly perched on his head. His written report says he
                   has napped for two hours. On the way out, he starts tearing up his art
                   work for fun. "Let's go get sister," Mr. Mathis says, loading him into the
                   car.

                   5:50 p.m.: Four miles away, Mr. Mathis arrives at his daughter's school,
                   where she stays an "extended day" for $16 a week. When he enters,
                   she's entranced by the towering figure of Batman on TV. Mr. Mathis
                   writes a check for the month, and Jacinta Camille grabs her backpack,
                   which is taking on the proportions of her mother's briefcase. He picks up
                   the baby sitter (a two-mile drive from the day-care center) at 6:02 and
                   swings into his own driveway (another two-and-a-half miles).

                   This is his only chance on Tuesdays to talk to Jacinta Camille about her
                   day and her homework.

                   6:09 p.m.: Dinner isn't exactly gourmet. The plan is Domino's, but Mr.
                   Mathis can't remember the pizzeria's new number, and loses precious
                   minutes dialing wrong ones. His baby sitter takes over while he reads
                   Elliott's day-care report and washes up. The baby sitter orders a large
                   pepperoni, and Mr. Mathis dashes out the door. But before he can jump
                   into his car, Jacinta Camille runs after him, yelling, "Daddy, you forgot to
                   leave the money for the pizza!" The baby sitter puts out her hand, saying,
                   "They don't give pizza out of the goodness of their hearts, you know."

                   6:20 p.m.: Mr. Mathis has 40 minutes to cross town, pick up his wife
                   outside her office, and drive to nearby Eatonville, where the finance class
                   meets at 7 p.m. Mr. Mathis is stressed about setting a bad example by
                   being late for their own class, but Mrs. Mathis is unflappable in the back
                   seat, figuring everything will work out in the end. They pull in with a few
                   minutes to spare. After class lets out at 8:45, the Mathises don't have time
                   to sit down to dinner. The solution is food at 35 mph, from a drive-thru
                   Burger King.

                   9:47 p.m.: By the time they get home, their children are asleep. While Mr.
                   Mathis takes the baby sitter home, Mrs. Mathis kicks off her red pumps
                   and settles onto the couch. She takes a moment to admire her handiwork
                   on her hem. "I used to have more time to sew," she laughs. She has only a
                   few minutes to unwind before going to bed at 10 p.m., and then only a
                   few more hours before she wakes up to read case law.

                   ---

                   Ms. Rigdon is a staff reporter in The Wall Street Journal's Pittsburgh
                   bureau.
 

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