Some jobs are more dangerous than others. And by “dangerous,” I don’t mean there is the potential for physical harm. I mean professionally dangerous … the worst kind of all.
Because I’m hungry right now, let me explain using a charming food analogy. Let’s say, for example, you work in a cake shop — because let’s face it, YUM. So one day you stop in the middle of frosting a delicious six-layer torte, put down your icing nozzle, and trot off on maternity leave.
Many moons later — a few months, a year, etc. — you trot back in, pick up a spare icing nozzle, and begin frosting a dozen cupcakes. Yeah, some of the techniques might have changed — there could be a new way to make edible daisies — but the basics are the same. You are back, everything is fine, cakes for all …
This is quite a sugar-coated example, ahem, but honestly, it is not that easy with most jobs.
When I worked in the media, I saw women work straight up until they went into labour, and return to work within a few months. They were serious about not being replaced, or losing their “spot.”
Because, let’s face it, we’ve all seen women come back from mat-leave only to be dumped in a different role or department, because “things changed” while they were off. And what can they do? Nothing, except learn the new position. The company legally has to hold your job, but that doesn’t mean your responsibilites — even any of them — need to remain the same.
These colleagues dumped their babies — some of them only a few months old — into daycare or with babysitters, just so they could return to work and get back in the action.
I used to look at these women and think, “Why was she so eager to get back? Why didn’t she want to spend the whole year with her baby?” But in the same breath, I also though, “Damn, now that she’s back, I will get fewer of the good assignments.”
With the career I have now, I know it is not as competitive as the media, but it is no cake shop. When I go, there will be an ambitious little girlie trying to take my place — and my glorious office, complete with three windows (only one of which looks outside).
The question is … will I care if I lose my place in the game? Or will I have found something much more important?
P.S. I hope this blog is not offensive to cake-shop workers. Really, you are stars. Those icing flowers? Totally, totally irreplaceble.