Work Life Balance

10 Things You’ll Experience When You’re Laid Off And A Mother

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working-mom-laid-offGetting laid off sucks. Obviously. When I lost my job 10 months ago, it was the first time I’d left a job involuntarily since that time I was a barista in 1998. Still, having watched my husband and many others go through this more than once, I think it’s safe to say that getting sacked as a mother is much more complicated than it is for others. (Well, what isn’t more complicated now?) In some ways, it’s a more positive experience, in others, it’s even more of a mindf—. Here’s what to expect, should the ax ever fall on you:

1. You will feel relieved. “Finally, I can stop doing two jobs terribly, and just do that parenting thing … well, slightly better than I was.”

2. Other people will assume you feel relieved. “You must be so happy you get to spend more time with the baby now!”

3. You will panic. “Oh, wait, there was a reason I was doing those two jobs. I am partially responsible for feeding and sheltering another human being.” “I don’t know how to spend more time with the baby!” “What if my partner gets sacked too?”

4. You will blame yourself. “If I hadn’t had a kid, I would have been so much more dedicated to my work.” “I should have hired a nanny instead of done daycare; all those sick days took their toll.” “I should have stopped sleeping entirely and worked more at night, like I used to.” “I should have cared more.” “I shouldn’t have taken all those pumping breaks.”

5. You will be tortured over the decision to keep your childcare arrangements. “Unemployment pays the exact same amount as daycare.” “The kid really likes his daycare/nanny, and if I stop, he’ll lose his spot forever.” “I am not nearly as good as his caretakers/nanny at keeping him entertained all day.” “My therapist says he should stay in daycare.” “I’ll leave him in there while I take this little, tiny break, and then I’ll go back to work.”

6. You will rediscover how much all the kid’s things cost. “Maybe he doesn’t need to eat organic every day. Or any day.”

7. You will find out everything you’ve been missing about being a SAHM. “Daytime sing-a-longs are my new religion.” “Mom friends are awesome.” “Drinking with mom friends is even more awesome.” “Mom friends drive me crazy.” “Oh, my god, how do naps work?” “How come I still can’t cook and clean like my mother?” “Why isn’t it time for my husband to get home yet?”

8. No full-time employment listing will seem good enough. “If it’s not the job of my dreams, how can it be worth going through all that again?” “I don’t remember how to be that ‘self-starter’ I was before starting this other being.” “I don’t remember how to compromise.” “What if all I talk about in my interview is my kid?” “I’m just too tired.”

9. You will re-evaluate, once more, what defines you. “I am more than my job.” “Oh, my god, I’m just a mother now?” “I am a mother first, but I’m also something else. I just have to find that thing.”

10. You’ll figure out a new way. “My new job is great, and I’m reinvigorated by the time off.” “Part-time working isn’t making me rich, but I’m happier.” “I can give this stay-at-home thing a shot, especially now that naps happen.” “We’re all moving to Copenhagen for a year.”

OK, so I’m still somewhere in parts 8 and 9, hoping 10 will manifest itself before I hit the one-year mark in my unemployment. I’m realizing that, like with motherhood itself, unemployed motherhood is all about realizing when to relinquish control, when to take charge, and when to fumble through, just doing the best you can.

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