So I’ve been markedly absent for a few months now. And I have a very good reason, I’m losing my job. Every “free” moment of every evening has been spent searching AND applying for jobs. To be honest I knew it was coming and have been applying for jobs for about 2 years now but it’s now taken on a new urgency. In 6 weeks I will be potentially unemployed with 3 kids to feed. I’m educated, I’m experienced and I’m putting in every ounce of effort I can muster.
When I first entered the workforce it was all sunshine and roses. The workforce is good for women! You CAN have children now; you won’t be penalized or judged. You can have both and be successful. And I think in some areas it is working….but not everywhere. And it’s all great and mighty for the owner, president or CEO to say that’s how my facility runs, that’s our mandate…..but does he or she really know? Do they know how the manager 2,3 or 8 levels below is managing things? And is it just the manager? What about the co-workers? I’ve taken 2 maternity leaves now in Canada. And for both I took my 52 weeks I was entitled to as a Canadian citizen. When I came back from the first leave, things seemed ok at first. Then the comments started…..”Oh, that happened when you were on ‘vacation’”…..”Must have been nice, I only got 6 weeks off”……”You’re leaving already?”….”Can’t someone else take care of them?”……”Can’t someone else pick them up?”……Or my all time favourite, just ignore my calls or emails completely, give me no response at all. When I returned from the 2nd maternity leave things were even worse. I was no longer consulted for things such as scheduling meetings or informed of significant events that impacted my work. And of course the comments continued. I was the outsider. So I knew my end was coming. I realized immediately that I needed to find a new position where I wouldn’t be judged on having taken those 2 years off. A fresh start. I’ve been looking for a job for 2 years. TWO years.
I’ve had about 7 interviews but so far no luck. I’ve got something terrible working against me. I look young and fertile. I can almost see the managers eyes narrow as I walk in. My fertile ovaries seem to be screaming to them that I may become pregnant at any moment OR heaven forbid a toddler may come stampeding in behind me screaming Mommy. I know that look. Because I’ve seen it 7 times now. I see you checking my shirt for milk stains or a snot smear or a thickening in my waist. And I know exactly what you’re going to say to me…”I don’t know what your personal situation is…..?” There it is. That open ended question. Every. Time. Sometimes worded a bit different but I know what you’re asking……Do you have kids/Are you planning on having kids? At first I was caught off guard. I’ve had interviews previous to kids and I never batted an eye at that question. I didn’t even really think about it.
Just a few weeks ago I got a call from a recruitment agency. After playing phone tag for a day, they caught me in town, on a day off with my twin girls in tow. The message said call them back today…..and it was 3pm…crap! I was going to have to call back from town, with my girls there…..so I setup the girls with drinks and a snack in their seats in our stellar van and put on a movie. Perfect! I thought the girls would be quiet while I made a quick call to the agency to say yes interested, send me the details, it wouldn’t take very long. I didn’t want to step out of the van because of the noisy traffic. I had just started speaking to the woman for about 1 minute when one of my girls starting yelling…..Mommmmmmm! SHIT! I said, oh I’m sorry, you caught me on a day off in town and I have my girls with me but your message seemed urgent that I needed to call you, just hang on a second…..As I stepped out of the van into the noisy traffic, there was a pause and the woman said, can you just hang on a second?…….Ok. She came back on the line about 15 seconds later and said, oh, I’m sorry, there’s been a change and this position is now on hold. Really? That’ funny because you have called me 3 times in the past 24 hours, how long will it be on hold? Do you know why? She stumbled slightly and said sorry I don’t have any details but I will contact you when the position becomes active again. I could almost hear her starting the shredder. Mrrrrrrrrrrrrooooow. You turned me away because I have kids. Bottom line. And just for a second I was upset with my girls but then that thought vapourized in anger. How dare you make me apologize my children existing. I was and still am infuriated.
I don’t regret having my kids. I love them MORE than my career. Those feet stampeding to reach me first at daycare and the 3 sets of arms in our group hug that follows are irreplaceable. What I do regret is that clearly many people forget what it was like when their kids were young. I am sad that parents previously didn’t get a year off to bond with their children and are bitter at my generation. I worry for the younger women coming after me that want kids. I worry for the women coming after me that don’t want kids because they want a career. Can we have both without making sacrifices or suffering losses in one area? Can we choose one over the other without suffering losses? The answer remains to be seen. The idea is there. The policies are there. The upper management seems to be there……it’s the mentality of the workforce that isn’t. Not everyone agrees. Until we can convince everyone that it’s a good idea, the parents will continue to struggle.
I want everyone to stop and consider the children of these parents working for you or with you…..How old are you? Who is going to be your nurse, financial assistant, mechanic, or social worker in 35-40 years? Those children. That’s who. They are the future. Let’s choose to invest and support those first critical months and years of development. You may appreciate that resulting intelligent, compassionate, caring adult……especially if THEY are wiping your ass in the nursing home.