Saturday, December 17, 2011

Family Planning and the J-O-B: A Question for All the Full-Time Working Mamas

family planning

Lately, I've been wondering how other working mothers out there approach family planning. I'm aware, of course, that in many cases, families just happen - nothing wrong with that, considering it's why I and quite a few of my siblings are here. But what I'm curious about is how those women who were working and knew they would continue to work, by necessity, not by choice*, approached pregnancy.

For those not in the know, there is still plenty of hostility out there toward pregnancy and parenthood motherhood in the workplace. The U.S. is arguably the first world country that is the most hostile, with the least support for working parents of both genders. Figuring out work and motherhood is something that most women have to figure out for themselves, and there are basically no rules to the game.

Plus, as much as it absolutely is not supposed to be legal to fire a woman for getting pregnant or for having a child, it happens all the time under the guise of downsizing or departmental layoffs. 

So in my mind, the choice to become pregnant is one that must always be necessarily fraught with, oh, something approaching sheer terror. When my mind wanders into the realm of family planning, my thoughts run thusly:
  • I would be let go as soon as I started to show
  • I would be let go as soon as I mentioned maternity leave
  • I would be let go during maternity leave as soon as a replacement was secured
  • I would be regarded as "less dedicated" (whatever that means)
  • I would not be able to "handle it" (whatever that means)
  • I would be regarded as not being able to "handle it," thus providing the company with a reason for letting me go
  • The company is too small to be required to provide any maternity leave
  • I get leave, but it's unpaid leave (likely the case - there is no maternity section in the employee handbook)
  • I get leave, and during my leave they teach someone in the Philippines to do my job for $1/day
  • It all goes great, but my baby is born prematurely and that screws everything up
  • Working from home won't be an option (big problem)
  • Etc.
I guess my question is, does everyone who will be combining pregnancy and work and then parenthood and work agonize over these questions? Or is it just me?

When I had the Babby, there was no need to think about family planning beyond 'I work from home, so this will be not a problem.' Now I'm in an office setting, in a workplace that is mainly made up of people without children and the only people who do have children are dads - one of whom has grown-up children, one of whom has a SAHW to watch his children, and one of whom is divorced and thus only sees his child via Skype. Sympathy for a pregnancy - as in, anyone being cool enough to sit down with me to figure out a flex arrangement - will be non-existent. It will be up to me to figure out a plan of attack and to convince my boss that it is the right thing to do (and also his idea, since that can be helpful).

But does everyone have to do this? Is this just what family planning is like for full-time working mothers?

I am absolutely up to this challenge, of course. I just wish it didn't have to be this way.

*Sorry to exclude the non-working mamas or the mamas who have the option to work or not as they like it because the money is there, but if getting fired would be no big deal it's just not going to be the same thing.


  1. i'd keep looking for new jobs. but, i mean, you can never really know, i guess, you just have to sort of trust that whatever comes up, comes up. i was going to say "work at a bigger company with more maternity benefits if a job comes up", but hey, THAT WORKED WELL FOR ME, RIGHT? i wouldn't plan against having a pregnancy that you want because a company might fire you. what does tedd think?


  3. He's all GO FOR IT. The only problem with the bigger company plan is that while I've had offers for interviews for jobs with more money and potentially better benefits, they've all been full time and farther away. I could make gobs more money if I commuted into Boston and worked full-time hours, but I don't even know how that would function.

  4. Hi there. I've really enjoyed reading your blog recently. I'm a working mom- an HR manager at a family owned company (i'm the daughter-in-law). I have an 18month little boy and I now understand the pressures of working and taking care of a kid. I get so annoyed with the same level of thinking you highlighted about mom's working. I mean- when we get job applications from women and they cite having a kid/kids- automatically management starts to hem and haw about the amount of time off they're going to take etc. etc. I put my foot down several times and basically tell them look- the woman has the qualifications needed for the job- you're discriminating if you don't hire her and quite frankly- my kid is the most important thing to me as her kid is to her- so if her kid needs her- i expect her to be there for them....usually shuts them up :)

  5. @Syya26 Thanks for weighing in! I'm so glad to know there are women out there like you who are advocating for working moms. Sometimes it feels like you have to hide your family life to even land an interview (and I do keep very quiet about my home life at work). Unless you're a guy, and then it's still expected that you'll have a little wifey at home taking care of 100% of the domestic tasks. Which is fine if they do, but most don't!

  6. I am terrified about going back to work for all the reasons you listed above. I remember interviewing when I was 5 months pregnant and being told that it wouldn't be a factor in their hiring decision. I didn't get the job and I was told that the other candidate was more qualified. I always wondered about the real reason. The whole process left me wary about being a FT working least with an infant/toddler

  7. Maybe you need to see about moving to a larger, more family-friendly company. I've been in the work world (by necessity) for more than 35 years, which means through all 3 of my children and I only had a problem one time. That was a small company and a very high-pressure job and I got fired when my son had the chicken pox because they couldn't handle me being gone for 2 straight weeks. Otherwise, I've not had a problem in larger companies. It helps to be a dedicated employee who has skills they can't easily replace, but that doesn't come overnight.

  8. That's definitely a thought, and it's a good one! The main issue is that all of the larger, family-friendly companies are in the city and would require longer hours. Right now, the job I have allows me to leave at 3:30 p.m. and it's about 8 minutes away from my house by car. That means A LOT since a city commute plus regular full-time hours would mean being away from home from about 7 to 7.

  9. My employer is wonderful, those thoughts never crossed my mind. I guess it depends on what industry you work in. I know that my role is absolutely required, and I know my skill set is very valued, as such, I don't think I need to worry about losing my job. But I have a dream job.


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