Young Mother Decisions

While on vacation we talk a lot about the future but we also recall the past. I was talking to Fred about the frustrations I had as a young mother in the last company I ever worked for and he suggested I write about what happened.

Emily was not even a year old when we took a family trip down to DC to see my Mom. On the drive back Em’s chest was so congested I could hear her wheezing from the driver’s seat. Although she was our second child, and we had been through all the earaches and runny noses with Jessica, our oldest, this just sounded a lot worse.

I called the doctor who saw us first thing Monday morning and then sent us over to the hospital for a chest x-ray. I was freaked. I let the office know that I had to take my daughter to the doctor and would keep them posted.

After a super stressful morning of Emily crying and being poked at, the results came back that she had pneumonia. I called the office to let them know and their response was not take whatever you need but when can we expect you back this afternoon. My answer is I won’t be able to get back but in my head I was thinking fuck you. I do not operate my life like this. I had run a company for a few years before leaving to take this job which is a whole story in itself where I had complete flexibility.

I was gone from that company in the next week. They fired me because the reality is (as my boss told me) that I shouldn’t be in this job or even have his job but he should be reporting to me because I knew so much than anyone else there. True but I took the job because I wanted to work a structured schedule so I could shut off work the second I left and be focused on my kids. It wasn’t the right move but after the pneumonia I should have just up and quit.

Women (and men) need to be able to go to work, build their careers accordingly to their desires and abilities and still make their family priority number one. It is companies that create cultures that understand that life happens who will have a better chance of success because their employees are respected and in turn, they will respect the company. I think of that time every once in a while and remember what an awful place that was and wonder how could they treat me as a young mother with no care about my child.

I never worked for a company again, freelanced but never beholden to anyone ever again. It has worked for me. Perhaps if I was treated with the kind of empathy and care I deserved things would have turned out very differently. The best thing they ever did for me was fire me.

Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    I quite one job after taking five years of ‘cultural abuse’. I got fired from the next two jobs because i wasn’t prepared to ‘internalise’ their shitty cultures. I would be unemployable in any similar working environment.

  2. awaldstein

    This is important.I was watching the video stream of Zoomtopia last month.One of the presenters, a particularly articulate and poised exec, was quite pregnant and I realized after a bit, that it both took me a while to even notice, and how historically significant this was.My point is that while stuff is far from perfect, companies can and do create the new normal strictly but doing it.Zoom btw is particularly dedicated to this and it is obvious as everything they do, from Webinars to Town Halls to their quarterly financial calls are all video. They are visually diverse and I don’t think this is by accident.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Very significant

  3. pointsnfigures

    Let’s hope it is a different day in the workforce today….I remember speaking with an entrepreneur I was invested in. We were chatting away and she mentioned she was at home because her kids were sick and her wife had to go to work. I didn’t care and hoped it wasn’t serious. Since we have this thing called the internet we can do a lot remotely. If you work for a corporation, you know most meetings are just CYA meetings anyway so there is nothing to miss…..funny how in startups, lots of the meetings are virtual and take place quickly.

    1. LE

      There are a great deal of ‘traditional’ (non ‘startups’ non ‘vc/angel invested companies) that can’t handle a situation such as a person not showing up for work no matter what the reasons is. I don’t even mean a restaurant or retail. I mean your local plumbing supply place or 1000’s of other businesses out there. And if you say ‘well you can plan for that’ you have never run that type of business does not work that way.I will tell you a story. My Dad had his heart attack the week after the big ‘Gift Show’ when he got let’s say 20% of his business for the year. He had chest pains before but of course he had to be at the show or he would loose orders and the big customers. So he took a chance and viola bad decision! There are 1000’s of situations like this. Let’s say your son or daughter gets married and you have a wedding scheduled for Saturday night. There are a host of things that need to work just right so you have a ‘good affair’. One is people showing up and doing a good job. There is ZERO ability to miss that date and everything has to be perfect. You screw up and you are toast in terms of referrals. It’s a great deal of pressure. Catering companies have (as only one example) contracts with venues (synagogue etc) and all you need is a few screwups and they will replace you. In the business that I was in for years (Printing) you work really hard to grab a big account. You screw up an order or you miss a deadline and there are 100 other Printers ready to take your place. In fact you know how you pick up an account? When the other guys messes up and the account takes your call and give you the next job. (The other way is deadbeats people who haven’t paid their printer and are looking for a new ‘mark’ to unload work on). And the ‘big’ accounts are needed. Not for the revenue but when you want to sell the business people place a high value on big accounts (you’d be surprised how much so).

  4. Bridget Goodbody

    Just in Scandinavia where they seem to have this problem better sorted. Also with a friend who teaches unconscious bias seminars in corporations around the motherhood issue. It will be better for our daughters, but listening to the stats (2% of film directors are women…….) made me cry.

    1. Gotham Gal

      It feels like it’s getting better but then againyou wonder