This month, I’m celebrating my 3 year anniversary of being a Starbucks Partner. A place where employees are called partners, because we are all partners in shared success.
Three years in, I’ve reached the professional crossroads that I have both been looking forward to and dreading these past few years. Reaching the peak of my career, achieving more than I’d ever imagined possible and just when I’m on the brink of climbing higher…. needing to take a break from it all to begin the epic journey of parenthood.
I’ve read many an article about motherhood coming in the way of professional women climbing the ladder; I’ve always thought that it wouldn’t affect me. That somehow, I would and could do it all. But as I sit here on my first official day of maternity leave looking through my twitter feed I can’t help but feel super nervous.
The weekend saw appalling figures of equal pay from some of the UK’s top companies being released, BBC China editor Carrie Gracie turning down a £45k pay rise to make a stand against her better paid male counterparts, and this morning Oprah’s powerful speech on being the first Black woman to receive the Golden Globe’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
‘And I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story’’ Oprah Winfrey
So here it is, I’m sharing my story and my five thoughts on what the next few months may hold;
- I wonder whether this time out to have a baby will set me yet another year behind my male counterparts, or perhaps I will have the chance to use this time off to pause, reflect, learn, grow and come back fighting harder than ever? I’ve served in the energy industry for over a decade and I wonder how much ‘energy’ I will have for it when I return. So much can change in a few weeks, let alone months.
- I’m comforted by the fact that I have a supportive manager and work for a company that promotes the notion of flexible working, but still have a severe case of ‘FOMO’ (Fear of Missing Out).
- I can’t help but wonder if by already thinking about my ‘returning to work’ plans, I’m neglecting my ‘being a good mother’ plans. It saddens me to think it’s 2018 and the thoughts swirling round my head are no different to those that generations ahead of me likely contemplated.
- There’s also a huge financial sacrifice at play. It scares me to think how we will cope on a single salary with a new addition to the family. I understand that lifestyle changes may need to be made, but for me this will be the biggest driver of when I will return to work. It’s not when I’ll feel ready. It’ll be when we can’t afford for me to stay at home.
- And finally, many before me have had children and made it work for them, I don’t know if I’ll be one to compromise on my career or compromise on those crucial first years. But I guess only time will.
As Oprah wisely described, it’s up to the leaders of today to take us to the time where everybody can speak their own truth and nobody has to have the thoughts that i find myself having on equality. I’m going to show the world. I can be a Partner and be a Parent both at once! After all multitasking is what I do best!