Friday morning my car battery died while I was waiting at the bus stop with Aidan and Logan. It was a cold, rainy morning and I was already tired and grumpy after having been up with Lorelai several times the night before. Not to mention the fact that Adam was out of town. Since it was raining and I was not near neighbors that I actually knew, I felt bad flagging down a random stranger to help, so I just sat in the van shivering until roadside assistance showed up, almost 45 minutes later.
While I waited, I got to thinking about the last time my work day started with a dead battery. It was a day that completely turned my career all the way around and upside down. The day I lost my job (or, got fired for being pregnant, as I so affectionately refer to it).
It was a cold February morning in 2004, and I remember being in such a good mood because it was the first time I got to wear my maternity pants (side note: I feel silly now for being excited about that because it was certainly a step down in the fashion department--I blame first time mom craziness). I was headed to my job as an account rep for a very small PR/Marketing firm but I couldn't get my car battery to jump, so I think Adam drove me to work that day and I arranged for a co-worker to take me home.
Despite a frustrating start to that morning, everything was business as usual until I got called "upstairs." Didn't think anything of it, since I had asked for a review so I could talk raises. I had been there full time for about a year and had recently gotten very positive feedback from a client, so I was trying to be proactive. The details are extremely fuzzy (mental block due to emotional distress?) and I don't remember exactly what was said to me, other than the fact that that where I was in my life wasn't where they needed me to be as an employee. I just remember being completely blindsided. I was humiliated, angry and devestated. I managed to pack up my desk, but I couldn't even leave with dignity--I had to call my mom from the break room crying and wait for her to come pick me up since I didn't have a car that day.
That was without a doubt the most demoralizing thing I've ever experienced. I questioned every ounce of my self worth. Wondered why I was such a failure and how I could have been so stupid to not see it coming. Criticized myself for choosing a college major (Journalism, Advertising concentration) that I was apparently incompentant at.
And of course I immediately worried about expenses since we had a house a baby on the way, and Adam was already working two jobs for us to make ends meet. (The company did throw me a bone and paid for my insurance through the end of my pregnancy, which I'm so very grateful for.) And I figured no one would hire me since I was pregnant. The temp agency I registered with was a bust but I ended up with a part time job as a receptionist at my gym for a couple of months, with a paycheck that was enough to maybe cover a couple of monthly bills and that's it.
“Life's up and downs provide windows of opportunity to determine your values and goals - Think of using all obstacles as stepping stones to build the life you want” ~Marsha Sinetar
But perspective is a beautiful thing. I'm still occasionally bitter about the situation, but I've come to realize that the truth is...they were right. While I was most definitely not an incompetent employee, I really was not well-suited to that type of career and that type of workplace. It was the type of place that forced you to put career above all else. If you're not coming in early and staying late, you're falling short of expectations. I was never praised for a job well done, only criticized and nit-picked for what I should have been doing better or differently. I can't thrive in an environment like that. It was toxic, plain and simple. And the fact that they didn't even have any maternity leave policy before I announced my pregnancy certainly didn't bode well for me in hindsight. I could have never simultaneously been the mom I needed to be and the employee they demanded I be.
It's funny (but I'm not laughing)--Adam and I have actually both lost jobs in very unfortunate ways, and we've both had much better opportunities that wouldn't have otherwise happened. In the 3+ years since it happened to Adam, he's gotten several promotions (with hopefully another one coming up soon) and is making more than he ever did before.
As for me, I was given a chance to go back to the software company where I interned during college, albeit doing a completely different job. They took a chance on me, and I can honestly say I've felt like a valued employee for the past 8+ years I've been there (since Aidan was a mere 6 weeks old). I'm proud to say that I keep getting positive feedback on the work I'm doing, which is a big change from before. I got a huge promotion last summer and a couple of awards, including one last month where my boss said such incredibly nice things about me in front of my whole department. I just got an amazing annual review, and I'm thriving and growing my career in a way I never thought possible back then.
I would have never had this opportunity if it hadn't been for that fateful day and that miserable company, so in a twisted way I'm grateful. I totally could have done without the humiliation, overwhelming stress and lack significant income for almost 6 months, but it forced a career change that worked out for the better.
And my day on Friday ended immesurably better than the other time my car battery died before work :)
“The freedom to move forward to new opportunities and to produce results comes from living in the present not the past” ~Brian Koslow