No Small Victory
by Nicole Green
Two years ago I was stuck in a job I used to love, battling the prejudices career women face when they decide to have a family. I’d worked hard to get where I was – Senior Management at a well-connected Financial Services company. I developed a reputation for expecting excellence – from my team, from my vendors, but most of all from myself. I took broken messes and turned them into well oiled machines. I was good at it, and I got my satisfaction not from any accolades (if you’re in IT in the business world, you know you only hear about us when things are broken!) but from knowing that we took insurmountable odds and triumphed time and again. I was lucky to have a special team of really talented individuals. I was dedicated to them, and we became like a family. I also expected what would happen when I became pregnant.
I had a really tough pregnancy with my daughter, and from time to time I would sometimes be too sick to go into work or even check emails. Unless you have experienced it, there is no way to relate to you how debilitating round-the-clock nausea and vomiting can be. Still for years prior
(and afterward), I was well known for my “second shift”; getting up at 2 am to work at my computer while my family slept, so that I didn’t have to sacrifice my family time when I got home from work. It was how I managed, and it was fine with me. I wasn’t looking for brownie points. Nevertheless, when I returned to work from maternity leave, I started hearing rumblings about my performance, that I was no longer committed to the company.
Suddenly, Senior Managers were called into a group meeting before the CEO and presented with a list of what the priorities in our lives were expected to be. Family was 3rd on that list.
Initially, my colleagues were startled. This was quite unorthodox, possibly an invasion of privacy (to say the least) but there was no question that this was targeted at me. Privately, I had much support. Publicly, my colleagues didn’t want to make waves for fear of losing their own jobs.
The stress began taking a toll on me, and one after another health concerns were developing. I started having debilitating anxiety attacks. My childhood asthma returned. When my position was “made redundant”, I didn’t fight it. I’d had enough of the bitterness and chose not to sue for the most blatant wrongful dismissal and prejudice. I couldn’t do that and raise my baby. I had a choice to fight this thing, or turn around and focus on my family. I prayed a lot and I wavered. A. Lot. And I chose not to go through a prolonged court battle with some people with some very deep pockets.
Today, I am at peace. Yes, I feel some validation when my old colleagues tell me that everything at the Company has gone to crap; advice I gave which went unheeded proven to be sound. But I’m sad too because instead of battling me and dismissing my ideas, my boss should have been engaging me, finding the value in the ideas I was presenting. My history of excellence should have demanded at least that. But when he looked at me, all he could see was a pregnancy.
Listen up men. We get pregnant. We don’t get stupid. There’s no correlation there. Take a biology course. Wise up!
But that’s not the real reason I’m at peace.
I am at peace knowing I made the right decision. I am free to spend more time with my loved ones: with a husband right by my side who supported me, and kept me sane. With a father who loved me enough to be supportive and encouraging on the phone, and who hid the anger he really felt, knowing it couldn’t help me. With a mother who loves me with her all. With my boys who rubbed my back when I was vomiting, and rubbed my feet and back when my nerves were pinched and I couldn’t walk. And with my fearless little girl, who unknowingly propelled me into change.
They’re small on your list, boss. But I wouldn’t trade them for a thing.
Nicole Greene is redefining her world. Join her in her adventures at http://trinidad.macaronikid.com/