Each month, BAM hosts a DEI Session for all BAM employees. In these conversations, BAM employees aim to educate each other, give time to reflect on important topics, and use a “fishbowl” style of conversation that gives willing participants a chance to share their personal insight on the topic. For Women’s History Month, we opened the floor to the moms at BAM. The willing moms were able to candidly and openly answer questions for the rest of BAM to hear about what it is like to be a working mom. Here are some responses from Josie Taylor, Lauren Grassetti, Katie Marggraf, Whitney Wells, Sarah Pekala, Laura Nickel on their previous work experiences and how being a working mom has changed. We appreciate their transparency and vulnerability in sharing their stories.
On finding a job as a mom or soon-to-be mom…
Sarah: Job hunting while 8 months pregnant felt like I had to prove myself to my new job that it was a good idea to hire me. I was lucky enough to find a job that would offer me maternity leave. I want to do a good job as an employee and as a first-time parent. And then the pandemic happened and I lost childcare and I had to figure out what my day looks like to balance everything. It’s been a big learning process but I try to give myself more grace and not judge myself.
Laura: I sought out a work-from-home experience 8 years ago before it was a thing because as a single parent, I knew I needed remote work to be a great parent and employee. I’m so glad it’s popular now and I’m not that girl on the speakerphone who they forgot to call. By embracing remote work, you get the best out of your teams and a wide variety of experiences.
Josie: I moved back to my hometown to be near my parents when I found out I was pregnant, which meant I had to quit my old job and start a fresh job hunt (this was before the rise in remote positions). When it came time for my interviews, I was grateful that it was summer so that I could wear flowy dresses that hid my bump. I didn't tell anybody I was pregnant during the interview process because I thought it was going to hurt my chances of getting a job. Once I got an offer letter, I obviously had to reveal the truth. I couldn't help but think, “my team is definitely going to feel like I tricked them into hiring me and be resentful of the fact that I'll work for only few months and then leave them understaffed when I go on maternity leave. I bet they're regretting this decision.” Withholding that information was my own personal choice, but the mom guilt is real and, for me, started even before I gave birth. Now that my kid is 2 years old, I've learned to give myself a little grace. I've also happily moved on to a career at BAM where motherhood is widely accepted.
On hiding “mom-things” from coworkers…
Lauren: On my first day back to work from maternity leave, my son got sick, and then my daughter got sick two days later. I thought, I’m not telling anyone. I can't be the mom who comes back to work and my kids are already sick! However, my nanny got sick the following week so the jig was up as I didn’t have any help for a week.
Josie: With a newborn in daycare, they’re constantly sick — three weeks at a time is not an exaggeration nor uncommon. But nobody told me to expect this, so it's wildly inconvenient for both parents and co-workers. Especially for co-workers who don't have kids, they don't see the behind-the-scenes of parents deeply struggling to figure out how to divvy up last-minute childcare duties. Then there's also times when your kid finally starts feeling better, only to catch another illness a few weeks later. By then you're definitely spiraling and can safely assumer your co-workers are saying “your kid was just sick a few weeks ago, how can they be sick again?!” In these cases I've sometimes avoided telling my co-workers in attempt to spare them the frustrating details and just tried to power through the workday.
Whitney: I had breastfeeding blocked in my calendar as “pumping.” My daughter never took a bottle ever so I fully exclusively nursed her for over a year. It was on my calendar as pumping because, for the same reason, I thought people would think it’s weird that I’m going to go to do that. At that age too, babies nurse to fall asleep so it’s a part of it - nurse and put them to bed. I did that all through the first year and I didn’t share it.
On reflecting on BAM and working from home…
Katie: I feel so privileged that I get to be at a company where we have this conversation. I didn’t have to hold anything back and was completely transparent because I feel safe with everyone at BAM. Being a mom is the best thing I have ever done in my life but there are also some really hard moments, especially when transitioning back from maternity leave. Having the opportunity to share and be real about what it's like to be a mom at BAM was such a gift.
Sarah: The stress and anxiety of physically going to an office and pumping every three hours, being like, “See you guys in 45 minutes. I gotta go to this room somewhere and do this thing.” I always felt like my coworkers who didn’t have kids or who weren’t moms were judging me, but that was what I had to do to be a working mother. What’s amazing about BAM and being able to work from home is you have that option [to breastfeed anytime]. How incredible it is to be able to do that?!
Damaris: Living in an agriculture community in Arizona where the norm is to go to a field to make a living, I feel grateful and privileged to be able to work from home and work in a progressive environment like BAM. As a mother to a one-year-old, I have the flexibility to breastfeed and care for my child while working. Though it is at times hard to manage, I never forget about the women working in the heat to provide for their children.
Whitney: I was one of BAM’s first fully remote employees after being the first to also take maternity leave. It made a big difference to see my kids throughout the day and be there for their firsts.
On changing since becoming a mom …
Laura: I became a much more focused employee because I knew I had to get out the door at 4:30. I didn’t mess around and ended up performing better and got good reviews. The pressure to be more focused actually benefited me and get more done with less time and be more productive. Not to say, the shitshow didn’t happen afterward, but when I sit down and do the work I am a better employee and a mom.
Whitney: I have changed fundamentally since becoming a mom. I think that just the way we tell women to get their body back, we also talk about going back to the person you were before kids, but I don't want to go back because I've changed for the better. I like this new version of myself. There are some parts of my identity that I had to leave behind for a while that I have gotten back to since then, like riding horses again, and prioritizing things that I self sacrificed for that time - but its all part of the growth and the experience of being a mother.
Sarah: My parents always said that I was that 6-year-old that acted like they were 25 and an adult, and that came down to even emotions. I held a lot inside for whatever reason. I was terrified of birth and rightfully so, but I walked away from the first year of parenthood, and postpartum, and going through the pregnancy process just more in touch with my emotions than I have been before. They say when you have a child, your heart leaves your body and is in another person and that totally happened for me. It made me more introspective and reflective of my own life and the choices I want to make raising my son. It changed my perspective of my relationship with my own parents and my childhood. Becoming a mom made me a more thoughtful, introspective person.
Josie: I realized that I'm a great mom and can handle motherhood better than I thought I could. I thank my 10+ years in PR for teaching me to have a lot of patience! There are a lot of challenges that every parent faces, but it’s given me a lot of strength to see that I can do this. Having a solid support network of other moms is so important, which I didn’t have at my other agency. At BAM, we have dedicated Slack channels for moms and ample caregiving time off, which have been hugely helpful.
Lauren: I got better at creating boundaries for myself when I became a parent. I try to have lunch with son and daughter most days of the week - a benefit of working from home! Also, the time I get to spend with my children before bedtime is sacred, so I make sure to everything squared away at work so it doesn't creep into family time.
One word to describe the fishbowl experience?
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