Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Mommy Track

Back in the day I used to say, "I'm not motivated by money." You could practically hear me sniffing with self-satisfaction. It was easy to be unconcerned with money at the time. I didn't have kids and I made more than I needed. But there was plenty that work didn't offer me and adhering closely to my normal pattern, I focused on how I was different from my coworkers, how I didn't fit into my work environment rather than what I was getting and how I was similar. In any case, I may not have been motivated by money, but I was sure held in check (ha!) by it. I didn't leave until an acquisition and lay-off ended the wild swings of opinion on whether or not I would grow a pair (of mammaries, sha!) and get out.

When I finally started working again, it was on a contract basis and the "dream" job quickly revealed itself to be notevenremotely serious/career-enhancing/likely to exist for long. So we thought maybe it would be a good time to get on with the second child thing. And voila, 9 months later Eva died. For all the times and ways I've turned those two words over in my mind, I've never before today really thought about the fact that from the time we decided to have our second child to the time we lost our third was nine months. We are so lucky in so many ways. I feel so damned sometimes.

But this was about the outside the house kind of work. After a few months of being at home with my surviving twin, I got to a point where it became essential that I go back to work. I took the first job I was offered. It was a big pay cut and a lot less of a challenge, but in my grief and eagerness to discount myself, I took it. I told myself that I needed a soft place to land and that I couldn't afford to fail. Both were true, but two years later, the place on which I landed feels so soft that I can't quite get my footing. It's starting to feel like quicksand. It neither provides me with the flexibility I would like to be available to the children nor does it reward me in the ways I need now.

But it wasn't until a good friend was effectively jettisoned by her employer after she returned from maternity leave that I realized that she and I had been mommy-tracked, she by her boss and me by, well... me.

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