Confession time: I stand alongside the global multitudes struggling to make ends meet during the current recession. Jobs are scant and it’s downright scary right now. Especially as a single mom.
Luckily I rely upon faith, hope, networking, routine and friends to buoy me. And thank goodness for chat rooms and friends’ IM & email messages discussing fear, job scarcity and struggles. “Thank goodness” not in the Schadenfreude way; I’m grateful not to be alone.
I felt loads better last week after watching a NY Times video profile of a laid off exec who had formerly managed multi-million dollar accounts and is now pushing a janitor’s broom. His wife needs cancer treatments so guaranteed health insurance benefits are essential. He can’t afford the luxury of leisurely looking around.
Instead he kicks off the covers at 4 a.m. each day, checks emails and sends out resumes to potential employers. He then heads to his janitorial job where, during breaks, he sits in his car placing follow-up calls. I don’t know if I was more blown away by his story or by his bravado in letting the world know what he currently gets up to between 9 and 5.
I, too, am working overtime at phoning contacts, tapping into networks, making new contacts and attempting to drum up work.
Which makes having to go up against female colleagues doubly frustrating.
I have spoken several times with a work contact about leads in news production. And each time I talk with this woman she asks: “But what about your son? Do you have anyone to take care of him? I mean he IS young.”
And each time I reassure her that yes, I do have a network in place. A really good one. Not to worry, the childcare issue has never presented a problem. I even have overnight babysitters. “I HAVE A VILLAGE!!!” I internally dialogue. “So please, send the work my way.”
But she hasn’t so far. And I don’t believe she ever will. Because I don’t think she can wrap her head around my being a single mom and concommitantly producing television news. Never mind that scores of anchors, producers, editors and camerawomen before me have done just that and are faring quite nicely. Or that I myself have done just that.
I’m being pre-packaged and labeled from the get-go and not only by this particular woman. Recently a well-known anchorwoman told me: “You certainly don’t want to work full time or get into a heavy career. You have your son to think about.” She wasn’t asking. She was stating how “it is”. And I thought: “But you’re so wrong! By getting into something full time I AM thinking of my son. ”
It reminds me of the time I went to see U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright speak in San Francisco. Someone in the audience asked if she regretted the choice of fast political track over full time mommy. She explained that there isn’t a cookie-cutter path for all women – some are meant for careers, others to stay home with kids and others to do a range of things in-between.
But she told the packed house I DO believe there’s a special place in hell for women who give other women a hard time for the path they have chosen to follow.
And the room erupted in applause.
I don’t believe the women I mention here are malicious. But their notions are misguided and create a certain level of frustration for me.