Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What I learned when I became a working mom

What I learned when I became a working mom:
  1. It's a lot harder then I thought it would be (physically, emotionally and mentally)
  2. I need to work (I'm a horrible stay-at-home-mom)
  3. At $50,000 per year I was working just to pay for daycare 
  4. I got screwed after taking my 12 months of maternity leave (apparently it's systemic in Canada*)
  5. Bosses WANT to support you as a working mom, but when the shit hits the fan and someone gets Foot And Mouth Disease and can't be at daycare for 2 weeks - "support" becomes a four letter word.  
*There is an article in the September issue of Reader's Digest by Denise Balkissoon's called "Pregnant Pause:  Extended maternity leave was enacted for all the right reasons. So what went wrong?" (here is a link to the full article).
After reading the article, I felt a little better about my experience (it's not JUST ME!), but also angry and frustrated that I need to start my career from scratch.

Here is my experience:

Like most, I spent time (12 years) building my career, making choices that I thought would be beneficial for the future.  Co-workers and supervisors were shocked to learn I wasn't applying for executive roles.  I knew how difficult being a new working mom could be, and didn't want that to interfere with a job that demanded so much of me (or visa-verse).

I had coordinated successful large and small fundraisers; I had spent time getting to know "clients", their families, their interests; cultivating and stewarding; I was heading volunteer marketing and communications teams.  After my second (and decidedly last) maternity leave, I came back to a job that was stripped of all responsibility and went from the "go to" person to being the receptionist.  After only three months they dissolved my position, claiming it was no longer needed.  Within nine months they had another person in the role (but with a slightly different job title).  I now wish I had spoken with a lawyer, however the package they gave me was good (considering it was the non-profit sector) and the non-profit world is a small pond where I live so I didn't want to "burn any bridges".

2009 was a hard year to find work, but I lucked out six weeks before my EI ran out and found a year-long contract position as an assistant.  As of August 2012, I have had two basic administrative contracts outside my career focus.

It's been 5 years since I actually worked in my "field" - at this point I'm beginning to believe I can't compete with the people who have been employed for this time.  Perhaps it's time I go a different direction.

For now, I take odd jobs where I can get them.  I look for work. I apply, and apply, and apply.  I get rejected, and rejected and rejected.  And I dream of starting a new career (I just wish I knew what it will be).

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