It was summer of 1996 and I was nine months pregnant with my first born.
It was a promising time in my life—making career moves at my biotech job, enjoying new office mates and just overall having a great run. Several of my coworkers were having babies, and the joy in the office multiplied with each birth.
I was a “career woman” and about to become a “working mom.”
I loved my job, loved the group in my department and always felt supported both professionally and personally. But this feeling was tugging at my heart, a growing sense that I might not want to return to work after my son arrived. Just thinking of leaving a newborn behind every morning—missing out on moments and milestones—left me in distress. Childcare? Who would I possibly trust with my boy for 10 hours a day?
It’s a dilemma I’m sure every working mom endures.
Three days before I was set to go on maternity leave, I was unexpectedly called into HR.
I was being laid off.
The Human Resources Manager began, “Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your baby! We’re SO happy for you. You have six weeks of leave and will receive all benefits throughout this period. Unfortunately, we’re eliminating your position so you won’t have a job to return to.”
I don’t know how long I sat there, trying to absorb her words. I’m sure I had a look of incomprehension on my face as I wrestled with this new label of “unemployed,” because she proceeded to try to explain their decision.
“Blah blah something something since your department’s director left the company, on paper you no longer have a director to report to, blah blah so we’ve made some cuts.”
My mind prattled on:
“what the hell am I supposed to do?”
and “we can’t afford to lose my salary”
and more importantly “who am I if not a working mom?”
but also “this sucks and it’s disempowering and I will never be an employee again!”
It didn’t take long for the Brightsider in me to take over (lol she shows up when I need her).
Brightsider reminded me that this is exactly what I was hoping to choose! Granted, the company took the choice away and stripped me of my perceived identity, but I WANT THIS, RIGHT?
I quickly adapted, thanks to the busyness of being a first-time mom. I didn’t have the time or energy to contemplate what would transpire in the future. I slid directly into my new identity of “momma” and never looked back.
I also kept that initial promise to myself…never again did I identify as “employee.”
I was forever freed from that cage.
The Soul Guidance for this week explores the ways we may need to sacrifice facets of our situations/personalities in order to make room for new experiences, new commitments, new identities.
P.S. My baby and me, then and now.