Yesterday we had my goodbye party. It was really sweet of them to put it it on, especially considering that I’ve only been with that department for a year. And of that year, I was gone for a big chunk what with maternity leave, the Placenta Incident and the beginning settling-in. They’ve only actually seen me at about 6 staff meetings, if that. Put in that lens, it’s doubly sweet that they gathered to say goodbye to me:
You might have wondered why I wasn’t moaning more about going to work and being separated from her everyday? I mean, I told you about the panic attacks I was having before going back to work, seeing the psychiatrist (who answered her phone THREE TIMES! during the appointment), and long, insomniac nights? Well, I never did leave Moxie! I’ve brought her with me to the office every day that I’ve gone in. I set up her play gym right there on the floor and what few appointments I did have, I set up around her typical nursing times. I’ve stayed sane, having my baby with me at all times. If I have a third (or maybe fourth) career left in me, I’m going to want to become a lobbyist and change the way we do business: make this type of arrangement the norm. At least for the first year – either have a longer maternity leave or bring your baby to work and/or have a part time option. Leaving your baby when they are so tiny, tender and wholly dependent on you feels so wrong. No mother should have to make that choice of income/career and her little one.
I could probably have fought harder for my job.
I do think that my needing to work reduced hours as an accommodation to care for my baby who has a disability would be a cause for action. But… I’ve already fought a lot of battles at work. Besides having to go to DRA to get students with disabilities an accessible office they could be counseled privately in, I’ve been the general watchdog on disability stuff.
I know a thing or two about fighting a system then having to get back in bed with them. It’s not very romantic.
Not to sound like some kind of martyr, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat for the rights of someone else. I’d push and shove if needed to make something happen. Or I’d be the person asking the hard questions. But for me… I can take this is a sign from the universe and struggle for the courage to do what I really want to do.
I’m wrapping up 8 years’ worth of work here. This program that I created, built from scratch. Worked those 14-hour days on. It was hard but it was hella fun in many ways. I learned so much! I worked with lovely people, that I’d like to stay friends with. Served some dynamic students and graduates that will hopefully hire me someday. Became “vested” in my retirement plan! That sounds so grown-up; I’m proud of me.
Are you still here? Bless you. I’ll give you a special treat, for bearing with me.
Moxie, in her Hat of the Day: BOO!
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.