I thought I wouldn’t make it. A third baby is cool when you love your husband, but it’s also a third howling banshee to add to the list of your 24/7 time, patience and energy eaters. So as soon as a decent babysitter has stepped on my path, I called my boss in Objectivity to ask when I could come back to work. I must have sounded pretty desperate, because we made a fast deal. I was lucky not only to choose the date of my D-Day but – what is most remarkable and unique on a Polish labor market – the area of expertise where my input would be most valuable. (“If there was anything intellectual left anyway”, the evil post-maternal-break doubts kept nagging.)
Invitation for our company’s Xmas Party was a nice way to help me smoothly adapt in the informal circumstances just few weeks before a formal comeback. During this event I have met so many new colleagues that I realized I would be returning to a completely new enterprise! When I was leaving for the maternity-leave Objectivity had 300 people on a payroll list and after 11 months I was about to re-join a group of 460 co-workers! At the same time I found it super-exciting and scary. Is this the same place that I have remembered? What new departments we’re having now? How will I be welcome by the people who don’t know me? Will I be still needed? Is coffee machine in the same spot as it was? These and many other concerns were crossing my mind.
In the past I have not only experienced it myself, but working in HR I have seen it many times how bad it went for “moms” that wanted to go back working with employers they’d been with when taking a decision about getting pregnant. Often there were – officially that is – no positions for them anymore or their teams have changed so much, that the ladies had to start proving to be worth their salaries. Which is, of course, doable – but still hard, unpleasant and in my personal opinion unfair and absolutely messed up when you think how much value females add to the business as a part of a global workforce.
One of the recent documents published by European Commission, a “roadmap” of an initiative called “New start to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families” emphasizes a fact (based on research done in all 28 Member States) that after having children many women drop out of the labour market entirely and those who continue to work often do so in part time although they would like to work full time or they work in jobs below of their level of qualification. Well… you don’t need EU report to know that. It just confirms what is a socially known fact – reviving your professional life after you’ve become a mother costs you a lot more effort, stress and sacrifices then as if you were just going back from holiday or hospitalization. Good employers are aware of that and try to make it easier for you so that you can cope with it better and not ventilate the stress at the husband just as he opens the door and welcomes you home.
Now, after just few days in my new-old office I see that a large part of my worries was not needed. Company grew but values stayed the same. And I see them e.g. in the kindness of the – firstly anonymous – people I have met in a corridor. My fellow recruiters did an amazing job to acquire folks who still match with Objectivity’s primary mindset. Yes, we have more floors and I still wander around searching for the damned conference room, but everything is more or less how it was when I disappeared. I am settling in a new office but gradually recall how things have been always working. It’s crucial to me, an average individual, to feel at work like at “my place”. A lot of friendliness, openness and informality around me helps with that. And due to a load of tasks I easily forget about kids, so when I come home I am more eager to talk to them and do not kill them while mediating in their eternal clashes. All in all – it’s good to be back.