In my previous life, I had always worked. I worked as my father’s child laborer when I was young. I stepped into the working world the day right after graduation, which means I went to no celebrations or parties and got up early the next morning to work. I was really good at working, at my chosen vocation, at least until I became a mother. It’s not that becoming a mother made me less passionate about my work. I still loved being a web product manager and I still loved doing everything that went along with it, but if you prescribe to the idea that perception is reality, then I became less capable and desirable as an employee once I left on maternity leave.
I had read all about the motherhood penalty and knew that it would probably be something that would catch up with me sooner or later, but it happened for me sooner than I had thought. I saw the email announcing the “structural change” within our department. I was to be stripped of my reports and they would report to someone else under my VP. It was a surprise because I was not told before the email was sent out. I called my boss, who assured me my job was safe and we would talk more once I was back from maternity leave. When I returned from maternity leave, I found out that the change was not temporary but permanent. Sure, they didn’t change my title or my salary, only my job responsibilities, but still, I knew my days were numbered.
“You know they are not supposed to do that,” more than a few of my fellow working women friends would tell me. Well, it happened, so what are my choices? To sue? My response was not to fight it for practical reasons. My husband and I were in the process of buying a house and we needed to have my income in the mortgage application. It was not time to rock the boat, or burn bridges. I had great working relationships with my boss (who I still believe is a good guy) and everyone at the company and I was not about to risk that. Instead I decided go with the flow. Since my managerial duties are moved away, I could be more flexible in my work hours and I asked to go down to 30 hours a week instead of a full time schedule. My boss could have decided to fire me then or grant my request (which he did). I knew then that this made me even more vulnerable during the time of layoff, but other things that happened outside my control already made me vulnerable anyway. My ego took a hit, but I had to make the best of my situation.
The truth is even though I supposedly went down to 30 hours a week I worked more than that. Plus, pumping at work was a bitch.
The truth is that dealing with childcare for my son was super stressful.
The truth is that work-life balance is bullshit.
Two days after my son’s first birthday was the day I was laid off, marking the start of my new endeavor in domesticity. I was always better at embracing the chaos anyway.