-“Doctor…When Mommy comes back to work, nobody cares who covered for her!”
Sally X. is a successful career woman that has made the choice of not having children many years ago, as she never imagined herself rearing a child in a family setting. That conscious choice has seared her image in the shared Unconscious of her co-workers.
Many times in her long career she has been asked to take on the extra work load that piles up in the office when someone else goes on maternity leave. She had to manage more clients’ requests, she had to prepare more memos, she had to take more phone calls, she had to sit in more boring meetings, she had to work longer hours, and many times skip her lunch to keep up with it.
When the new mother comes back to work, it is time to celebrate the arrival of the newborn and share the happy mementos with pictures and stories. Besides a perfunctory acknowledgement of her sacrifice, nobody takes heed to Sally X. who is being summarily taken for granted by all her co-workers.
When a child gets sick or has a soccer game or a school play, her boss has a ready answer. “Go on,” the boss readily says, “Sally will cover—she’s a good trooper.” Sally this, Sally that…Always on call to pitch in for someone else. She can do it. But at what price?
By the time the absconded one returns form her short or long leave, Sally is exhausted and depressed—a source of never-ending emotional frustration. In spite of her evident distress, nobody offers her a leave or to cover for her. “Hello?!!! Got my needs too!”
Vanessa de Largie, a writer and actress who does not have children, says that “childless women often run second in the workplace when it comes to rosters…Employers are more accommodating to mothers; early shifts are reserved for them. They are not reserved for actresses like me, who have to schedule auditions around work. A childless woman’s obligations are deemed meaningless outside of her day job in comparison to the martyr mother.”
We recently discussed the terrible ordeal suffered by young mothers with a full time employment outside the home to juggle the demands of both work and parenting. Without a good safety net , the society is effectively shifting most of the monetary and time burden of rearing children to the parents themselves and to dragooned helpers like Sally X.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.