Am I Being Fired?
by Vanessa Fasanella | Jul 31, 2012 12:26 pm
Posted to: Working Mom's Diary
My boss called me in for a “pep talk.”
He asked me why I wasn’t the woman he had interviewed and hired. Why had I lost all my steam and enthusiasm?
I felt small, cornered, and almost afraid. I felt dumb. When he asked me how I was doing and why I couldn’t do better, I felt like a complete failure.
He wasn’t wrong in what he asked. But how he asked left me crushed and used, not challenged and certainly not wanting to try any harder.
I wondered how other people felt. Not just other mothers, but fathers, married, single, full-time, part-time, older, younger. I couldn’t help but think that my antennae were misaligned somehow, and that how I perceived the work world may be far from how others experienced it.
So humility be damned, I asked people about the guilt issue. Every time there was a quiet minute at work, I’d ask somehow how they managed. Every time I chatted with someone I knew outside of work or on Facebook, I’d ask them if they found the balancing act too hard. How were they making out with the big work/home/life balance? How did they manage the whole thing?
I figured that I would either find that I was completely alone in how I felt, or I would gain valuable insight into how I could manage things better.
What I found left me totally amazed. Not only did almost every person I speak to wish they had another job or a job with different hours. But they also felt like they had no definite life plan. That this was a job definitely, and maybe a career, but that it wasn’t what they had planned. It was not what they pictured themselves doing every day until retirement.
Everyone was humble as we spoke, and I confided in them that I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. It felt impossible to properly balance working with marriage with parenting with hobbies with volunteering with you name it.
I had new fathers tell me they never saw their babies, older fathers tell me they missed their almost-grown kids, and mothers just look at me with stressed face that said they were painfully getting through each day.
They were just like me, in some ways, and I was not alone.
I had gone into this thinking that I was an odd gal out, thinking that I was struggling because I was either incompetent or weak or both. I have been told too many times to count that I am oversensitive and should “just get over” things. But this was different. I almost felt pure relief, to find I was average, normal even.
The one big difference with me is that I wear my pain and disdain on my sleeve. I’ve always found it impossible to hide the fact (in recent years) that I didn’t want to be at work, and that even though being a stay-at-home mother is a helluva job, that I wanted it back. Boy, did I want it back.
The “If Only” Game
I spent time thinking about my own childhood, how my mother stayed home with us from day one. And how much harder it was for her than it had been for me. I caught myself thinking that her ideas of volunteering at school, church, Scouts and local senior centers had equal parts to do with being generous and giving as well as trying to find a way to relate and meet people. To figure out what you excel at, who you are, and how to make a career of it.
If only there was a way to take my kids, and my knitting hobby and magically transform it into a career. If there was some kind of surefire way to figure out a plan for a small business in a horrible economy, apply for minority and women owners grants, and guarantee success, then I’d be all in. But who wants a $12-50 scarf, hat, sweater, shawl, purse, or blanket when Wal-Mart is just down the street and has all that for less than my yarn cost?
But playing the “If only” game doesn’t do anyone any good. You hurt your own feelings, you take a step backward, and you get stuck in a self-pity rut. I spoke to a few friends who had recently mentioned wanting to be in business for themselves. They said it was the greatest idea that they had ever had, but they had no plan, no managerial experience, and no knowledge of renting space or writing grants. So the momentum that could be came to a grinding halt.
I started talking to my husband about redoing our budget, as I was rethinking everything now. Was there anything we could change, any fat to trim? We couldn’t think of anything. We have no car payments, pay insurances on a yearly basis, no cable or gym memberships anymore. I actually found myself wishing aloud for an in-law apartment that we could rent out.
I promised to walk into work the next day and be different. Be the super-confident lady from the hiring interview. Be the salesman with the smile. Be the person ready to tackle anything and win.
I think I walked a little taller that day. I called on more people than I had in the days before. I definitely handed out and mailed out more business cards than I had ever done before. Maybe I was back!
A “Weekend” To “Think”
I was called into the owner’s office again a few days later. Had I thought about our first meeting? Was I able to reconcile things in my mind and go back to being that go-getter he had hired?
I don’t know, I told him. I said that in the grand scheme of things, he was right. That I was having a really hard time there, and that I couldn’t wrap my head around it. That I knew I had only done 20 percent of what I had done the month before.
But how could I do things differently? What should I do?
He told me to get back to the person he met during the interview, the one who was on fire, asked a lot of questions, and had the energy. He suggested I take the weekend to think hard if I really wanted to work there anymore.
I left his office feeling very confused. Was I fired? Should I be asking for more training?
And how could I take the weekend to think if I had to work on Sunday?
I’m not sure what he thought I would do with what he said, but I wasn’t going to be able to think of anything else from then until next Monday.
Tags: Vanessa Fasanella, working moms
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Being a working mom is difficult but like you said, you’re not the only one. I think you really need to think about what this job means for you and your family. Do you need the income? Then stop feeling guilty and start focusing at work. Yes, it’s easier said than done - I face it everyday - but do you really want to put your family at risk?