Friday, October 19, 2012

Be Like Gumby

Bend, baby, bend.
A few short weeks after I returned to work from maternity leave, I helped a co-worker with a big PR event at our company. I picked up dozens of cookies from the bakery, helped her set up the A/V and helpfully told people where to go. Although I usually spent my lunch hour with L.E. over at daycare, I really wanted to show I was still a team-player so this was the first time I didn't go see her. 
After the event, there were tons of cookies left over so we put them all over the company at break areas. I had a box in my hand and said I was going to take them to the daycare, which was subsidized by our company. My co-worker gave me a snotty look and said, "They're not really employees."
To say I was upset by that was an understatement. Granted, this was in the throes of my PPD and subsequent working-mom guilt. I calmly left the cookies on the table and left. 
As I sobbed uncontrollably on my way to the daycare, I vowed I would never let work interfere with my baby girl again.
The next time a big event rolled around, I didn't dare step out of my normal scope of work to help out. It was an asshole-move, I admit but I wanted to drive the point home that I wasn't going above and beyond because I was now a mom.
I don't think anyone really noticed I was making a point; I think they just thought I was being an asshole.
Obviously, that was not the most realistic and mature way of dealing with things and as I think back on that moment, I'm appalled for being that upset.* I know it was because I wasn't ready for the cascade of emotion that being a working-new-mom would bring. My PPD was in full-force and I hadn't been properly treated yet. I could go on and on about it, but that's not the point of this post.
The point is that the notion of women "having it all" is a hot-button issue right now. As a recently recommitted-to-working-mom, I don't necessarily want it all.
I just want some flexibility and understanding.
And I will give it in return.
I will work late as long as I'm home in time to tuck L.E. into bed and as long as it's not every day.
I will work through my lunch hours in order to leave on time.
And if I have to take her to the doctor or stay home with her when she's sick, I will make up the time accordingly.
If employers want happy and productive workers, they need to be willing to bend the traditions of 8-5-punching-a-clock. They need to understand that shit happens. Traffic happens. Yogurt gets flung at you as you're walking out the door. The dog escapes and it takes 20 minutes to find him. And, quite literally, shit happens.
Working-moms have the opportunity to set a new precedent. The laws are not going to be re-written anytime soon so if you want to "have it all," a good step in the right direction is to be open and honest  about the shit that can go wrong. 
And expect to make up for it.
I've heard many stories over the years about how people with kids get away with more. I'm sure there are plenty of parents out there who take advantage of the system. But I always remember that once I was the child-less worker, staying late to help out someone so they could go to their kids' recitals. 
It all comes around, people.
And if you choose not to have children, well it's hard to feel sorry for you while you're on your European-Pub-Tour vacation.
If the Entitled Generation has taught me anything, it's that the old-school rules need to be bent. 
If the Old-School Generation has taught me anything, it's to be polite and honest.
And if Gumby has taught me anything, it's to be flexible.

* This co-worker was a friend and I should have spoken to her about it sooner rather than crying about it.
If she's reading this, I hope she knows how sorry I am.


  1. I like your post! It seems like flexible working schedules are actually becoming a trend for a lot of companies. Employees working from home or creating their own flexible schedule. So I think this kind of thing might actually get easier to handle.

  2. Thanks, Lauren! I hope that it becomes easier as more women speak up.

  3. Gawd, I hope it wasn't me who said that! I've also just realized I need to read your blog more often. It's so great. I'm SO proud of you and the move, and I'm excited for you and the new gig! They're going to love you.