The work dilemma
Privilege, Necessity, Obligation, and Right. It is a privilege to have a job where you work from home, on your own time, on your own terms. It is a necessity to make money in order to provide for your family. As a parent, I have an obligation to take care of the children I bring into the world. It is a right to be able to work….. Period. I have a right to work. It’s not my privilege, nor is it a grace extended to me as a result for being a solo mom/woman in America. Yet for some odd reason, society has made many solo/co-parenting mothers live in fear of either losing their jobs, or not being able to find another job in order to provide for their families, if we do not behave in a certain way. It’s a punishment of sorts, for being a woman and having children, and its fucked up. As a woman, I should be able to come to work, do my job, and be treated the same way as anyone else, without feeling pressured into going above and beyond to prove that I’m capable of doing the same job, which my male counterpart is being paid more to do. Probably shouldn’t say that, but we all know it’s true.
We are finding out now that working mothers, and other working women, are dying just as fast, if not faster than our male counterparts, mostly in part due to stress. Of course we are, why wouldn’t we? We are expected to be smarter, classier, kind and meek, gentle yet strong, and for what? It isn’t enough that I’m qualified, and capable? Having to exhibit all those facets in a single person, and now we are killing ourselves to please people who wouldn’t give a shit if we dropped dead right in front of their eyes. (figuratively speaking). Work should be work, but it shouldn’t be a death sentence for women who are trying to hold their lives together because they are the only ones doing taking care of their families.
Once upon a time… no I’m kidding, it wasn’t that long ago. Anywho, my son and I had moved into a temporary apartment while I was looking for a house. This apartment was small, clean, and in a quiet building on a quiet block. Did I mention it was SMALL. This temporary place was much closer to my job than my last house, and it was cheap. Downside, it was fifteen minutes south of my son’s daycare; which was not on purpose, but that’s another story. So now I was further away from my son’s school, and because of that, it was going to be time-consuming to get him to school and me back to work everyday. Nonetheless, as a solo mom I figured it out, and made it work. I would leave my house at 7:15-7:30, drive the fifteen minutes north, just to make it to work by 8:15-8:30. Yes, it took me almost a full hour every day to get to work, and I only lived about ten minutes from my office on a good day. Now some people, no correction some ASSHOLES, will tell me to wake up earlier, go to bed sooner, sacrifice some other things in my life in order to make it to work on time. Yeah, the same people who have NO idea what it’s like being a solo parent. On a good day, I was up at 5:30AM, doing all the things I needed to do to maintain my life for a full 18 hours or more. Not sharing the responsibilities, or having a support system, it was me and my son figuring it out on our own. However through all the challenges, we did it.
Around this same time, I had gotten a new manager at work who came from outside the company, and he was a stickler for rules. I started to notice that he frequently watched me when I came into the office, as well as watching what time I would leave. I did my job, always did whatever was asked of me, but that didn’t seem to be enough. As I was shuffling into the office one day, he walked up to my desk and asked if he could speak to me privately for a moment. “Of course. What’s up?” He replies dryly, “I noticed you are not typically in the office until 8:30 almost everyday. Is there a reason you’re not able to make it here sooner than that?” I stared at him puzzled for a moment before I responded to this clear HR violation conversation. “Well, a few reasons. My son’s current school doesn’t allow him to arrive before 7AM primarily. Second, I leave my house about 7:30, drive 15 minutes north to my son’s school, and then drive about 25 minutes south to get to work.” Without hesitation he responds, “So I should expect you in the office at 8:10 everyday. Cool.” He smiled in a way that said, now I have the info I need to build a case. He Never took into consideration that my son is a baby, and I have to walk my son into school, or that I may get caught in traffic, or any other natural disaster that could prevent me from flying into the office right at 8:10. I responded with some slight fear, and a good level of frustration. “Well I can try, but why do you need me here before 8:30? My first meeting isn’t until 9AM.” He dryly responds. “Because I’m a firm believer that leaders lead from the front. If you ever want to move up in your career, you must lead by example. You showing up after some of the team is already here, sets a poor example. I would actually prefer you to arrive around 7:30, but I can understand you have a child. Just try to get here as soon as you can in the morning.” I was livid. Who did he think he was, besides my pompous boss in that moment. I didn’t want to give my smart ass comment that he didn’t look like he EVER ran in the front of any group, let alone did his frail gangly frame look like he was ever athletic in any capacity. So giving me a sports reference wasn’t well received. However I was picking up what he was putting down. If I wanted to make a good impression on him, I needed to be here early, and leave late. My kid, my life, was MY problem. Regardless of how well I had been doing my job, he demanded more at any cost to me.
So for the next couple days, I was rushing in the mornings to get my son up earlier, and get out of the house faster, just to make it to work early, only to sit and read emails. I remember one morning while my son was eating his snack, and taking his sweet time to get finished. I began screaming at him to hurry up and get done so we can go. “I don’t have time for this. I have to go, and you are playing around.” Of course he was playing around, he is a child, and all he wanted to do was spend a little quiet time in the morning eating his snack before he got shuffled off to school, and I rushed off to wherever I went in his baby mind. Nonetheless, I snatched him up in my arms, angrily put him in his car seat, broke several laws to get to his school in ten minutes, and then rushed him inside without so much as a warm goodbye. Almost immediately after I got back into my car, I broke down crying. I mean I was bawling my eyes out. My son didn’t deserve this, I am his mom, the only parent he has, and I was pushing him away, and off to someone else, and he wasn’t going to see me again for another 9-10 hours. I did this all to make some jerk boss of mine feel good about him telling me what time he needed me to be at work, to do absolutely nothing. I was broken into pieces. I drove all the way into the office in tears, but as soon as I parked my car I stopped. I wiped my face, fixed my makeup and walked inside and right up to my manager’s desk. “I will not be able to commit to coming in everyday at 8AM for now, simply because my family life will not allow it. Now if you need me to be here by 8:30, I’ll be here at 8:30. I will no longer take a lunch so that I can leave by 5:10, and if you need me for anything prior to 8AM, I will be in my car, so please reach me by my cell. I am a solo parent. There is no one else to drop my son off, or to pick him up from daycare, and he’s important to me.” Not to mention, I could definitely go to HR for what he was asking me to do, seeing how most of my peers didn’t arrive until 8:30 or 9AM anyway. That was it. I never had a problem with him again.
The fact of the matter is this. He felt that he could tell me what HE needed me to do, and that I should immediately bend to his will and or modify my behavior if I wanted to keep my job, and I personally felt he was doing so out of hopes that I had fear. Fears of not being successful, fear of losing a well-paying job, fear of being homeless or in poverty. I didn’t want to live in that kind of fear, and I won’t. I was doing my job, and I was doing my job well. Besides, I’ve lost good jobs, and went on to find better ones. I’ve lived in tiny apartments, and now I have an amazing house that my son absolutely loves. Why should I have been afraid of some guy who had no kids, telling me to spend less time with my kid, only to make him happy by seeing me at work fixing problems that will be there for me tomorrow. Some corporations (people within them) will try to prey on solo/co-parenting women, by making them feel afraid that if they don’t do something a particular way, they’ll risk losing their job. The work horse theory. I’ve been told by women and men alike, that as a “single mom” you are going to have to sacrifice, and work harder than others around you if you want success. I already work twice, if not three times as hard as my peers; so quit asking me for MORE and MORE energy that I really don’t have to give to you. From the moment I got into my car, after relinquishing my power and authority to another human being who cared nothing for my child, I knew that I was making a huge mistake. I will never give away my power, to a person or place, that pours nothing back into my life other than a few dollars that could totally be made elsewhere. If I were a boy, I’m sure the rules would be different. But I’m not a boy, I’m a lady, and I deserve to be treated as such. I’m here doing the work, and putting in the time, so spare me with your work harder logic for women. I’ll do my job, and that’ll be all…
-Be the Best Version of YOU!-