By Jessica T
About this blog: I'm a late thirties mother of a ten-year-old and infant twins. My family moved to Menlo Park 6 years ago from Virginia - where I grew up, went to college, got married, had my first born, and got an MBA (in that order). I'm a manag... (More)
About this blog: I'm a late thirties mother of a ten-year-old and infant twins. My family moved to Menlo Park 6 years ago from Virginia - where I grew up, went to college, got married, had my first born, and got an MBA (in that order). I'm a manager at Google, Inc. (Please note: The views expressed in this blog are my personal views and not those of Google.) My husband grew up in Los Angeles and is a novelist and professor at San Jose State University. Our daughter attends the Menlo Park public schools, and I was a member of the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation board for three years. I am now a board member for the Center for Literary Arts at SJSU. I struggled with secondary infertility for five years and recently conceived and delivered fraternal twins - a healthy baby girl and boy in May 2013. I've worked (and pursued my graduate degree) since my elder daughter was twelve weeks old. I supported my husband throughout his graduate education, and now I'm the primary breadwinner for our family. I have coped with the pressures and angst of what that means for many years. I am lucky to have a husband with a flexible schedule; he shoulders the lion's share of housework, cooking, and childcare in our home. I'm looking forward to engaging with men and women who can relate to the challenges of modern day life in Silicon Valley. (Hide)
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The autumn before last, I flew to New York to visit my best friend from college who had just had her first baby. My best friend leads the kind of fashionable and downright unglamorous life for which we all fell in love with Carrie Bradshaw from "Sex in the City." She's a senior editor at a New York publisher. She's clawed her way to the top after fifteen underpaid years. She pours her heart and soul into her authors and their writing. She lovingly prepares book jacket copy, has been known to model for a jacket cover or two, and sometimes tearfully advocates for the right to bid on a first novel.
Right before my friend went on maternity leave, she learned that one of the books she'd edited had made the New York Times bestseller list -- a first in her career. When her baby was four months old, she headed back to work. But before she did, she got a call from her boss, who told her that after she had her first child she had gotten a similar call from her boss. The call was to offer her a raise and to congratulate her on a job (at work) well done. Her boss relayed that the recognition and knowing she was appreciated made it that much easier to leave her baby in childcare and return to the office.
Though my friend was torn, as we all are, about returning to work, she beamed as she told the story. She was finally making a living wage in New York! And she had finally caught a break.
Promoting women (and men) when they take parental leave is an excellent way to ease the transition back to the workplace. Sure, all of the money in the world might not convince those who don't need to work to come back. But just imagine how many men and women would embrace parental leave if they knew it wouldn't necessarily slow down their career trajectory.
As a manager, I've always told my team that promotion is an outcome resulting from mastery of skills, accomplishments, and luck (the right circumstances to highlight abilities and the right manager to recognize them). I'm not advocating for promoting a person just because he or she takes leave. But if the timing and the circumstances add up, why not?
I got my own exhilarating and unexpected news while out on leave (and a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my director and mentor to boot.) Words can't describe how meaningful it is when your colleagues to come together and advocate on your behalf in your absence. It puts returning to work on the sweet side of bittersweet.