At work some of my colleagues are *this* close to openly laying bets on when I’ll get pregnant. Seriously. Some ask me to my face, others gossip about it in the kitchen. And I know the ones who aren’t discussing it publicly are probably still thinking it privately.
Since I got married it’s been happening with unsettling frequency. Liam and I have discussed making one of those in/out slider signs for my desk, saying ‘not pregnant/ definitely not pregnant’.
Sure, I laugh it off at work. But inside, it annoys me.
When I get to the office in the morning, I show up 100%. I get stuff done. I’m hungry to learn, determined to prove myself, and I’m ambitious. I want to be given opportunities to grow. I want my leaders to see my potential and help me get as far as I can go. I pride myself on doing a lot and doing it damn well.
One of my favourite quotes from Sheryl Sandberg is ‘don’t leave before you leave’. She encourages women wanting children to lean in, right up until the moment they go on maternity leave. If we stop reaching for opportunities as soon as the thought of having a family enters our mind, we fall behind.
I know that right now – when I’m young and at my most energetic – is the time to put my foot on the gas, to power forwards and give myself enough oomph to get to a respectable place in my career before ‘leaning back’ – should I ever wish to do so.
What concerns me is that my colleagues and managers might not think the same. So many of them have at the front of mind that I’m always (potentially) about to leave. So they might – potentially – not consider me worth investing in, or worth giving opportunities to grow.
I’d like to be treated the same way as my husband. To date, none of his colleagues have quizzed him on whether he’s ‘broody’, whether he’s about to have a family, whether he wants to take extended leave to raise that family. He’s not having to go out of his way to prove his ambition and dedication to the job, to counteract any worries his boss might have about his commitment.
So what’s the solution? To stem the flood of comments I announced loudly to my colleagues that I had no plans on having children for at least the next few years. But I don’t know if that’s the right approach. I don’t know if I’m letting down other women by deferring the issue, or even postponing the problem for myself. I could keep saying ‘it’s none of your business’ or ‘that’s an inappropriate question’, but that wouldn’t stop them privately wondering.
I’d love to hear any ideas you have on this subject. Do you think it’s appropriate to tell your boss, for example, if and when you plan to have a child? Have you had a similar experience? How did you respond? Message me or leave your comments below.