It's working for Jessica M
Silver Spring, Maryland
"I was shown a supply closet with a lock as a pumping place option. Although the closet was clean and private, this closet became, in my mind, a metaphor for why I felt that a different work culture would better serve my needs after the birth."
You can always find the job that you want. If you would like to work 20 hours a week, you should ask for it, providing your employer with a detailed plan of how it will work. (I wish I had done this.) If you would like to work from home four days a week, there is a workplace out there who will accommodate you. And if you cannot locate the perfect situation, you can create it for yourself.
After three years of stay-at-home mom-dom, I was itching to re-enter the professional realm. In 2008 I launched my blog, began contributing freelance articles to publications, and providing public relations and social media consulting. I quickly learned that I have the power to create the career I want that provides the balance I seek between professional pursuits and family. I also gained the confidence to communicate my priorities and boundaries to employers.
For my first two children, I was home with my child and breastfeeding came easily. I rarely pumped and did not supplement with formula. When I had my third baby, plus a busy family life and a thriving freelance career, I both nursed and supplemented with formula.
I was given six weeks paid leave and as the employee of a large company I could taken three months off, with my job and salary guaranteed upon my return. I believed this was fair and generous for the time in America, especially when compared to my friends working in other companies and sectors.
My largest obstacle in 2003 that prevented me from coming back to work was the lack of precedence in my office culture at that time for reduced-hour, flexible hour, or part-time professional employees. At the age of 28, it was expected that my career was just getting started, so why would I want to slow down? Additionally, the billable hour culture was not compatible to the flexible, or even simply regular, work hours I was seeking. As a younger executive, I also shared an office and I wondered where I would pump. I was shown a supply closet with a lock as a pumping place option. Although the closet was clean and private, this closet became, in my mind, a metaphor for why I felt that a different work culture would better serve my needs after the birth.