Years ago I had the opportunity to interview with a well known company with a great reputation. Just getting the interview was difficult, but as luck would have it, I met someone who knew someone who endorsed me to the right person.
Phone interview...nailed it.
1st in-person interview...knocked their socks off.
Full day, interactive, ride along interview...buckle up.
My rapport with the entire team up until this point was great; it honestly felt like I had been working with these people for years. At lunchtime, I excused myself for several minutes to pump. My newborn was only 6 weeks at the time and the plan was to interview during the final weeks of my maternity leave so when the time came I could seamlessly transition from longs shifts and nights away from my family to what already felt like a dream job. And I was almost there! Except when I returned from the pump and dump sesh, the employee I was riding with unexpectedly asked if I was okay. Me? I thought. Of course! Being that she was a she, I felt comfortable responding truthfully.
"I have a nursing 6 week old, and had to pump for a few minutes."
That was it. The rest of the afternoon was buried under the weight of awkward silence sporadically interrupted by my failed attempts at small talk. When we finally returned to the manager's office, my lead asked that I remain outside while they spoke in private. I wish I could say that they took their time, but they didn't. I was promptly invited into a room that had just hours ago felt warm and inviting, yet suddenly I swear I could see my breath as I stood quietly waiting to be told what I dreaded all afternoon:
"This position requires dedication and I didn't realize that you had a newborn."
Too shocked to spout a witty comeback, I thanked him for his consideration and let myself out. I had NEVER been passed up for a job before, let alone because I had a family.
That experience stayed with me for a long time. I briefly returned to my job before staying home full time to raise my brood. When I finally did get the urge to re-insert myself into the workforce I decided that NO boss, NO manager, and NO colleague would ever have the power to dictate my schedule or judge my ability again. I started a small business.
Yesterday, my 4 year old asked to come to work with me. My little trainee who loves to observe and mimic those around her and is curious about what goes on at the office, who asks questions and gives directions and works hard on her "work" right alongside the rest of us. I happily obliged. And you know what? The day was just as productive as any other day because I got to "mom" as I worked.
I work for me, I work for my family, and I work for those who respect my values as much as I respect theirs. And so, looking back, I'm grateful for having been turned down for that position. At no point since have I ever been less dedicated in what I've been doing, but at every point I have been more fulfilled.
Work hard, mom hard, play always.
Chief Executive Mom
This Functional Family, LLC