Whatever the reason you’re a working mom, you’ve decided the sacrifices are worth the reward. This makes getting fired, which is excruciating on its own, that much harder. But I’m here to remind you that as with most mom experiences, this one can be shared among us too. Here are the stages you’ll likely go through if you’ve been sacked:
You’re facing the person who has the unfortunate task of letting you go, and they have no idea whether or not you might go psycho. Lucky for them, the first stage you’ll experience is shock. Regardless of whether this was expected or not, you will sit there with your jaw on the floor and the latte you just finished threatening to reappear. Even if you suspected this was coming, it’s still an awful surprise to get the news.
Your thoughts start to tumble out of your mouth like word vomit. Questions such as, “What the actual fuck?” and “How can I not take this personally?” will make your executioner visibly squirm, which they totally deserve. Your vision may blur at the edges, but try not to pass out. That would only make a bad day that much worse.
Oh, the tears will come. If you’re not weepy yet, you might still be in shock, because eventually you’ll feel mortified and like you just got punched in the gut. I hope you didn’t put on mascara this day because the despair stage will manifest itself as uncontrollable water running down your face and washing away any remaining dignity. Grab a pint of ice cream (not the expensive stuff—you just lost your job, remember?) and host a one-woman pity party.
Now it’s time for the crazy bitch to show her face. You’ll recall your many contributions to your employer, and you’ll think of the many hours away from your kids. Nothing fuels a mother’s anger like feeling her sacrifices were in vain. Regardless of the reason you are now unemployed or the circumstances of your dismissal, you’ll feel as though you were used and unceremoniously discarded.
Maybe you’re a little drunk, but there will come a point when you think of the positive side of not presently having a job. You can cut out child-care expenses and spend more time with those chubby faces you’ve missed every workday until this point. You will recognize that there is freedom from your stressful calendar and difficult tasks you were procrastinating on. What’s more, when you share this stressful news with your friends and family, you’ll be reminded what an excellent support network you have. It’s the family and friends in your life who matter most, not your job.
According to some source somewhere, I’m sure, losing your job is about as stressful as dying, except that you’re around to experience the entire thing. Here’s the stage when you have to face reality and cope with your new circumstances, recognizing that it’s going to be a challenging road ahead. The time for wallowing in misery is over, and the time for strategizing your next move and getting back to work has come.
Getting laid off, terminated, sacked, fired—they’re all just different descriptions for “not getting paid anymore.” If you think about it in that way, perhaps you can recognize it as an opportunity or gift, even though it’s wrapped in some pretty shitty wrapping paper. You (and your kids) will survive getting fired. Working moms have remarkable resolve and determination, and you will persevere.