Being a mum is hard. You sacrifice your body, sleep, and your sanity to bring a gorgeous tiny bundle into the world. But now it seems like society wants us to sacrifice our careers as well.
Since starting a new job in June last year, I’ve been faced with a huge lack of empathy. Employers just don’t seem to understand that I am solely responsible for an actual human life. It’s become a huge problem, not only from the days off I’ve had to take due to inevitable toddler/winter illness but from the perspective of my own motivation, feeling of worth and passion about the job.
Returning to work, I started with buckets of enthusiasm. In fact, I practically danced in to work every day, just happy to have the opportunity to put my skills to good use. I finally had more to my identity than just “Mum” and I was loving being able to bring my knowledge to the boardroom table, as well as put food on the table at home.
Since then, I’ve been told that my contract will not be renewed after my probation ends (which they had already extended due to my absences). Although they haven’t specifically told me that the reason is that of my parental status, it seems pretty clear. I perform well in my career, all the numbers are going up, but still, I am ridiculed for being a parent.
I have lost all motivation. I find it difficult to perform in an environment that is so quick to throw away female talent simply because they have children. Would a man be questioned about his ability to fulfill an employed role merely because he is a father? I don’t think so.
Flexible working is the way the world is going now with many organizations opting to allow employees to work remotely, flex their hour and, in general, have a much more relaxed attitude. Some employers have even installed nap pods in their offices!
But so many industries simply refuse to embrace what seems like an extremely logical fix for the modern workplace, and it’s quite frankly infuriating. Within these archaic businesses, many employees are told that it just “isn’t the done thing” for low-level staff to work flexibly and that only the management is allowed that “privilege”. Personally, I find this tiresome and know from my own experiences from freelancing that sometimes, flexible work is the most productive kind of work.
What did we bother to fight for over 100 years ago? Women have so much to offer the world of work, but when we’re faced with roadblocks at every turn, it’s no wonder so many of us choose to give up work altogether, or that a third of us suffer from mental health issues. We expect women to work as if they don’t have children, and to raise children as if we do not work. Ultimately, something has got to give, but I know for certain that it won’t be me.
Photo by Sai De Silva
This author has chosen to remain anonymous.