toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

November 12, 2012

work commitments and lousy mothers

Laura is a single by choice mom who managed very well until the day she was unable to attend her small son’s sports day because of work commitments and started to feel awful.

"It wasn’t the first time that I had been forced to put work before my son’s needs," admits Laura, "but it was the first time I had really looked at the disappointment on the little guy’s face and realized what a lousy mother I was."

"I sat down that night and discussed the situation with my mom," says Laura. "We thought about all the options open to me, and I finally decided to keep on working full time, on full salary, but that I would absolutely refuse to be forced into putting work before my son’s needs ever again."

"I asked my mom whether she'd be prepared to support me financially should my employer fire me," adds Laura, "and she hesitated at first but finally agreed that her grandson's happiness is far more important than anything else."

Interestingly, Laura’s employer did not fire her. She got exactly what she wanted!

"My boss sat there like a stunned mullet when I walked in and told him that my family life is more important than my job and that I was never again going to work back late, or work weekends or miss out on any more of my son’s activities because of my work," laughs Laura. "It was the first time I had ever stood up for my rights and I felt triumphant."

When Laura rethought her work commitments, checked out her options and took a new direction designed to bring her work and her family life into balance she became a new woman.

Suddenly, a lot of other things that she had previously accepted became unacceptable.

"It's true," confides Laura, "when women gain the simple strength to say:

No, I am not going to work a 12 or even a 10 hour day;
No, I will not miss out on my daughter's graduation, or my son's sports day, or a doctor's appointment because something came up at work;
No, I do not want to spend a week away from my family attending some company conference;
No, I will not allow my work to interfere with any aspect of my private life ever again; and
No, I am not going to put up with (insert whatever you want here) ever again
they achieve clarity of mind about other aspects of life that are unjust, or just plain senseless."

As Laura discovered, once the decision is made to put that key in the door, to stop jumping through any more hoops at work and to start dancing to your own tune rather than that barked at you by some other guy, you also start rethinking a lot of other things that constitute the status quo.

Laura’s new direction constituted a complete attitude change. For the first time in her life she gained a voice and made sure everyone heard it.

She’s still working full-time and bringing home a full salary, but she’s no longer hooked on a work ethic that says we have to work back late, work weekends and give priority to work to the detriment of everything else in our lives.

"Before I changed my attitude," says Laura, "I was dedicated to that job on a 24-hour basis and I was putting in 60 hours work for the same pay I now work the statutory hours for. I was a mug! When I calculate how much I was earning per hour working 60 hours a week, I was shocked out of my brain. It took my little boy’s disappointed face to wake me up and point me in the right direction."

"I’m not a clinical workaholic," explains Laura, "but I was definitely exhibiting workaholic tendencies and burning out because that’s what the work ethic expects of us."

"But who the hell started this work ethic in the first place? asks Laura. "We think it’s normal, but it’s not. What could be more abnormal than ignoring our children?"
"Our natural purpose in life is to have children and protect them so that they grow up strong, healthy and happy," says Laura, "so why is society forcing us to be unnatural? Why aren't mothers and children important?"

Having found the courage to stand up to her employer and buck a work ethic that is nothing more than slavery, Laura is now geared up to fight other social evils.

Her eyes are now opened to a lot of inequities she had never noticed before, or if she had they had never bothered her. They bother her now. And she’s doing something about them - maybe in a neighborhood near you!

Laura has become politically aware for the first time in her life. She is conscious of her voting power and goes to great pains to research political parties and their candidates.

"I want to know what they stand for and whether they walk the walk or just pay lip service to their policies," says Laura.

She is encouraged by the many women who have made huge political changes by standing up for what they believe in.

"It always seems to be something that happens to a child that stirs these women into action," explains Laura, "and that makes good sense to me. It’s natural for a mother to want the very best world for her children to grow up in."

Asked whether she would be interested in standing for election herself, Laura laughs and says that it could happen if she becomes totally disillusioned with how the world is run.

"I had no idea," says Laura, "that I would start rethinking everything when I walked into my boss’s office that day. The world as I once knew it has taken on an entirely different complexion."

"I see abnormality where I once I saw normality," says Laura. "Nothing is normal that goes against nature, and nothing is normal about working 60 hours a week for the same pay you’re entitled to for working statutory hours."

"It really is true, you know," confides Laura. "We do get the government we deserve and we do get treated the way we deserve to be treated and it took my little boy's disappointed face to teach me that he didn't deserve a mom who was never there for him."

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