My first blog post, and it’s going to be a rant. Not a full blown rant, I hope (I’ll try to rein it in)
I am in my 4th year of being a working Mum, and I still haven’t managed to get it right. Having more and more children, may have something to do with it 😳 I had 2 under 2 and have another on the way making that three children, 4 and under!!!
I was an absolute career focussed lady pre children and quickly worked my way up the ranks by working bloody hard!! Everything changed when I announced my first pregnancy. Not because of a stereotypical male boss who was bad at dealing with a pregnant woman (I’ve heard many stories of this nature) But, because of a jealous female boss, who from that moment decided to make my life hell! Anyway fast forward returning from maternity leave and fighting to get the working rights that many other woman in the office were granted with ease, I finally managed to get a condensed working arrangement put in place, where I would work 5 days in 4 with one day off to spend with my then 8 month old.
No facilities were supplied for me to express and working for that long meant that I would never be able to supply enough milk to continue breast feeding (took me half an hour to get a couple of ounzes!) so I had to give that up too.
Queue double guilt trip. Leaving my baby, not feeding my baby anymore, wasn’t I meant to do it until at least 1 to get any benefit at all? (I know this is not true but at the time…) Will nursery look after her like I want them too etc etc.
Nurseries by the way, wow, a whole other minefield!! I needed to go back to work, not because I wanted to really, but because we needed the money. Thank god, I’d already got a reasonably good job, because those nursery fees hurt, a lot!!
The first 6 months back after maternity leave were tough, for me, for my little one and for my boss. My daughter was quite poorly when she was a small baby, she caught a nasty virus that affected her digestive system, then she had very bad refulx. However that was under control and she wasn’t really prone to other illnesses….. until I went back to work! Then she had chest infections, chicken pox, conjunctivitis (a lot) other random illnesses all under the GP’s umbrella of “virus” All which required me to be with her and off work. (My husband did take days off too, but really, my baby was poorly and I wanted to be with her and she wanted me and work had to come second)
These days came out of my annual leave allowance but still did not go down well at work. Which, I can understand, but here in lies the problem when you are torn between a rock and a hard place.
However, during this time I was passed over for promotion and removed from several training and development opportunities. Not fair!
6 months after returning to work from Maternity I found out I was pregnant again. Queue more guilt, “what will work think”, “how will I cope” “how will my daughter deal with it” “how can we afford it” “can we all fit in our small flat” etc etc.
I tried to do the right thing and thought telling work as early as possible would be the best thing.
Wrong. From that moment on, I slowly started to lose control over my job, another promotion opportunity was passed over me, “because I was pregnant” Er yeah, Thanks for that and I had to endure a horrible 6 months where I was refused time off for antenatal appointments and was nothing short of bullied by my boss. I skipped out of the office for maternity no. 2 and had another beautiful daughter.
During Maternity leave, there was a re-structure and not surprisingly my role was one of the ones that were no longer required and so I returned to a role which did not suit my skill set or the 8 years I had put into the company. It was a horrible time but was time for me to find a role elsewhere. Maybe it was just this company and Boss that were not friendly towards working parents, despite what every policy written down stated!
So I got myself a new job, exciting times!!
Oh wait, “you want to do condensed hours, we’ll come back to you”. 3 weeks of negotiating and nervous waiting later they confirmed that would be fine.
All good at new job, but not quite the same as I was doing before and so was quite a steep learning curve, which I embraced. This is quite a large company and I saw an advert on the internal jobs board for a role which is much more suited to my skill set and one I really wanted to get. I applied, got an interview, got the job as I was “head and shoulders above the other interviewees” “they are so excited to have you in their team”
Oh wait. “You want to do condensed hours. Um, well no one else on our team does that”
So I said “its an organisational wide option, I’m contactable on my non working day, I can come in on that day with some notice if I have to”
“we’ll discuss this and get back to you”
That was a week ago, still no news. I haven’t dared to tell them that I am also pregnant (!!!)
Why am I bothering to go on and on? Well, because I find it really hard to have a career and be a working parent and I don’t think that I should. Some people manage to do it. But I think they are people in the minority who maybe have more support than we do, or work for one of the few good “family friendly” companies out there. My husband and I basically have each other and nursery. I have to be there by 6pm to collect the girls or I get fined £20 per 10 minutes I’m late, my husband does not get home from his job until gone 7pm most nights and leaves before 7am.
I love being a mum so much and wish to god everyday that I could just stay at home with them more, but we can’t do without the money, especially now we have another one on the way. I also enjoy working and having a career, but I think at some point I need to accept that this is not going to happen until the kids are old enough for me to go back to traditional working week and that I need to make do with the status quo of a stagnant role until that time.
Is this fair, when being a Dad never seems to have an impact at work?
When I was younger I worked for a company where the boss said that he would never employ a woman in her late 20s to 30’s, especially if she’d just got married because she’s bound to go off and have children! I just wrote him off as an idiot and left the company as soon as possible. But the more and more I have exposure to being a working mum the more and more I see that Boss’s and companies say one thing on their policies and handbook about being family friendly but in reality that just doesn’t happen. I do understand that it can be frustrating for companies, but this is the 21stcentury. There must be a way of making this work for everyone. Rant over.
By the way I’m not a raving feminist but I’m definitely feeling the inequality in this argument!