Betsy Jividen and Helen Altmeyer are co-workers, mothers, and life-long friends.
They went to kindergarten at Vance Memorial Church together, and although they eventually went to separate schools, they remained friends through 1989. That is when Betsy asked Helen if she would be interested in sharing the job of Civil Assistant U.S. Attorney.
“We shared the job. We shared cases. We shared secretaries. We shared a baby sitter. We shared a cleaning lady. We literally shared everything,” said acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District Betsy Jividen.
Sometimes they would split the hours 20-20, sometimes 30-10, depending on the needs of each of their four children.
Betsy and Helen shared the position until about 2000 when their kids needed less of their attention.
They say their friendship was the reason it worked.
“If we had a deposition scheduled, and it turns out one of our children was in a pageant, well it was no question. Of course we’d cover for each other. We had each other’s back the whole time,” said Civil Division Chief Helen Altmeyer.
They say they feel fortunate they were able to split their time between work and home, because they say one of the most difficult balances to find is that of a working mother.
“When I would be at something, a PTA meeting, I would feel like I should be working. When I was working I would feel like I should be home, and that’s a pull that all mothers have, and fathers. It’s a pull that we all have,” said Jividen.
“I think it’s a hard decision when you’re a mother. Do you want to be a full time mother? Do you want to be a full time worker or somewhere in between? Both of us just happened to be wanting something in between, and we got it. It made life so much easier to live,” added Altmeyer.
Betsy and Helen say their kids grew up in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and there are pictures on the walls from years of “bring your child to work” days. Some of their children grew up to become attorneys themselves.
Although their kids have grown up, Betsy and Helen still rely on each other at work and in their friendship.
They say that will never change.