Laid Off: Mamma Said There'd Be Days Like This...

Take Your Daughter to Work Day 2009

In life, it is easy to take things for granted. I had a great job with responsibility, super nice coworkers and a sweet office space to park my extra unwanted paintings and books from home. But it’s just when things are going great that you have to watch out. And sure enough, last Tuesday, I was laid off. Our company was struggling to make balloon payments from a holding company purchase two years prior and our pharma-sales side was not delivering. Cuts had to be made. My department? Chop-ola.

In retrospect, it wasn’t a shocker. There were signs. In December, accounting started losing my vendors’ invoices. In January, they released a note that we were moving our vendor payments from 2/10 net 30 to 2/10 net 60, a get-your-resume-together-fast, billboard-sized sign. But I had a ton work to do, so I ignored it. Then, one day in February, I came in late and my boss asked me where I was interviewing. Yes. Really. She did. Sometimes you have to hit me over the head. With this sign, I finally put my resume together.

Work Peeps - Sara, Lisa and Ann Bridge Worldwide
Still, the day of the layoff was a tough one. Ten percent of our company lost their jobs on the same day, including my boss. On that morning, she helped me pack up my office (unloved paintings, books and all). Then, I had to force myself to be brave and walk around to say goodbye. A lot of tears were shed but I got it done. After that, I walked out in to a brilliant spring afternoon. I had no deadlines. Nothing due. The kids were not home from school for another two hours. This was interesting.   

My friend, neighbor and co-worker Catherine had also been laid off. I drove over to her house to make sure she was okay. She was having lunch and opening a bottle of wine. This seemed to be a good sign. We sat on her porch and each had a glass. She had been more shocked than me. But she had not loved her job. We talked about all the things we could do. We had two months’ severance. We could do anything.

I headed home just in time to pick up the kids and let the babysitter go. Sadly in this economy it all goes downhill. No more babysitter, no more nails done, no more eating out on a weeknight, etc. The kids and I did homework together outside. Things were going well. I wish I could say I took it all in stride. But you can’t help feeling bad when your company decides they can live without you. I was getting out my son’s Social Studies, when he mentioned he’d already had the test for chapter 4 and we hadn’t prepped. With that, my daughter announced she would prefer that her dad help her with Social Studies, not me. Weirdly, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I blew up. Told her she was a snob and sent her to bed. I may have even used the word “brat.” Not one of my finer parenting moments. 

That night, my husband tucked her in and explained it had been a tough day for mommy. Together they said a prayer for me. “… Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners…”

My husband related, that at this, my daughter paused. She backed up and said, “Pray for OUR sinner…” That sinner would be me. Ouch. You can guess, I’ll be using some of this extra time to work on my parenting skills.

Through it all, my husband has been very supportive. He is more comfortable about our family finances when we are both working. Aren’t we all? But he’s ok with me taking time to find my next position.

There are many small blessings. Catherine didn't love her job. Now she’s thinking about becoming a professional organizer, one of her passions. So that’s a good thing. For me, I was losing sight of myself in my job. My book just came out as an ebook and I hadn’t done one thing to market it. I’d spend my early morning hours (pre-work) trying to get ahead at work rather than focused on my personal projects, my writing, my goals. Sometimes I’d lay sleepless at night worrying about little work problems rather than my kids. Suddenly, with one severance check, work no longer mattered one bit. The sign from above was clear: Don’t sweat small stuff and focus on what matters.

Got it. Loud and clear. Sometimes you do have to hit me over the head.   

Margee Moore is a former marketing director and current mother of two. Get Sleeping with the Laundry: Notes from the Mommy Track for more perspectives on parenting. Now available as an ebook on Kindle at Amazon!