Working mother Jennifer Zipp was on maternity leave when she got the call. Laid off, along with 800 others in her company. She was a new mom, a new homeowner, and supplied the main source of income for her family. How did she stay positive?
"After just having bought a house, we were afraid of not being able to pay our mortgage," Jennifer says. "We did have a savings, but it was scary timing because of the economy and that there weren't many jobs out there."
The severance package she received was fair, and the family felt they had a little cushion for a while. Plus Jennifer was still nursing her daughter, Tennessee, and healing from a C-section, so going on interviews for a new job wasn't going to be an easy task."It was bittersweet," she admits. "I was happy I got to spend more time with Tennessee and not be physically there for the layoff. It was emotional. There was another woman on maternity leave who also got laid off," she says. There was a part of her that felt relieved in a way. "I think it was time for me to go -- to move on. It's just unfortunate the way that it went down."
Jennifer and her husband Phil, who is a stay-at-home dad, kept the lines of communication open. "Phil and I just kept talking about it and reassuring each other it was going to be OK. Whether he would expand his part-time job into full-time or I would just consult -- we were looking at alternative ways to make money," she says. But overall, they stayed positive. "We got nervous at times; we even thought that we could always sell the house, but we also had family around us who offered to help if needed and that kept us going too."She admits that interviewing was hard, especially when lactating. "It was easy to get down, but I did my best to stay positive -- it's so important," she shares. "And always keep an open line of communication with your partner through the ups and downs of trying to re-enter the workforce."
Jobs seem to be scarce right now and for the many people that have been laid off, Jennifer advises they consider alternative career paths. She thought of starting a children's line of clothes, opening a store, but then she started consulting with Calvin Klein Jeans. That led to a full-time position as Director of Denim Research and Development. "Now that I am back to work, I am back to traveling. I wish I didn't have to; I wish I had the luxury of more flex time or working from home," she says."I worry that I'm going to miss her first steps, her first word. I have guilt that I should be doing this; I should be the one staying home with her and taking her to the park. It's my maternal instincts," Jen says. "I just spoke with my new boss who is a working mom, and she said, 'you will never feel as much guilt as you will now that you are a working mother. It doesn't get easier as they get older.' I know it's going to get harder when she starts talking and can understand what is going on when I have to leave for a couple of weeks for work and she's saying, 'Mommy don't go.' It's going to break my heart, but I'm doing all of it for her, it's all for our family and to give her a good life."
Read the rest of Jennifer's story including her difficult first work trip away from home, the two dates she refuses to work, the amazing changes she sees in her husband, and how she learned to be more in-the-now.