I Achieved Confluence: Being on the Receiving End of a Mat Leave Notice
I set out to write today. I had something to write. I did all my usual procrastination tricks. Candy Crush. Twitter. Emails. Dishes. I even did laundry. Fucking laundry. And yet here I am. I opened my computer and the YouTube Video that is auto-playing was of some old white man (US Senator) talking about… honestly who cares?? It’s a sign.
Today I think I achieved confluence.
con·flu·ence | \ ˈkän-ˌflü-ən(t)s , kən-ˈflü- \
Definition of confluence
1: a coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point.
New definition of "confluence":
When ones competing personas (mother, professional, friend, sister, wife, daughter, boss, co-worker, ad infinitum) merges into one and you are operating wholly.
Let me explain how and why I achieved confluence.
It’s rare. Now I know I can’t say this has never happened before, but I can say one thing for certain… It’s been AWHILE.
AWHILE since I’ve felt a purpose.
AWHILE since I felt like I had something legit to offer.
AWHILE since I felt like I wasn’t wearing some mask isolating different parts of my existence to protect my audience (read: myself).
But shit y’all it feels fantastic.
Today, a teammate (who happens to also be my direct report) expressed some anxiety to me about her upcoming maternity leave. The details are pretty standard: Concerns about her replacement. Concerns about her career. Concerns about her return. Concerns about the perceptions.
But the beautiful part was, I was in a position to anticipate. I knew how she was feeling. Not because I had read something somewhere, but because I had lived it. I had been there. I was her. And she was me.
And I helped. I assured her that her job was HER job. She could leave and come back WHENEVER she felt comfortable (30 days notice LOL!). I made it clear that even if her replacement was the greatest, that would mean they both would have space in the organization. I assuaged the fear that she had to decide today about something she couldn’t possibly understand until tomorrow. Basically I said all the things that I wish someone had said to me.
And THAT is why having people like YOU (and me!) in positions of authority matters.
Because there is an inherent empathy that comes through lived experience.
And if having a superior who has shared your lived experience can help alleviate even the tiniest bit of stress surrounding becoming a freaking parent, then it MATTERS.
I will protect this woman with my life. Against the men who invariably will suggest that she is “killing her career”. Who ask whether she has “budgeted for her absence”. Who cause her to question something that she is probably questioning for her own reasons 8 zillion times a day.
Because maybe, just maybe, that is why I am here.