Being a starving artist for most of my adult life, I found that the easiest job to pay the bills was in retail. Not a lot of commitment necessary, flexible hours — ideal for someone like me. For a number of years, I found myself working in the beauty department of a health food store. The pay was great, as were my co-workers, there were no quotas, and I believed in what we were selling. It wasn't a job I expected to work at for the rest of my life, so I never really considered what it might be like to become a mom who works in retail. I just didn't think I'd be there that long.
Eventually, I got pregnant, went on maternity leave (for a year, because I’m Canadian), and came back to my job as someone very different than who I’d been before I left. Obviously motherhood changes you, but when you move into the parent zone as a retail worker, it’s kind of a big deal. Clearly this is a generalization, but in my experience, people who work in retail tend to be younger, childless, and on their way to doing something different with their lives. Or if they are older and/or have kids, they're in retail, like, they're committed and focused on moving up the chain of command. I was neither young nor committed, but I was definitely in it.
For me, working retail went from being a place to shoot the breeze while getting my job done, to a place where I worried about whether my daughter was adjusting to daycare. It was a place I had to make excuses to for being late, because my daughter was crying so hard she threw up that morning. It was a place that didn’t really matter anymore, unfortunately, when compared to my daughter.
Still, I kept working for another two years, before transitioning to writing full time after my second baby was born. And in the process, I learned a lot about being a mom while juggling a retail job.
Getting To Work On Time When There's A Punch Clock
Screaming child who just pooped in her diaper as I'm running her out the door to daycare. Do I change her, or get a warning because I punched in six minutes late? The struggle is real, and it's not something that most people have to deal with when they work in a job without an actual machine that clocks their comings and goings.
Getting A Call About Your Kid While You're With A Customer
You are already freaking out when you get the message, wondering if your sweet baby is sick or hurt. Meanwhile you have to smile and nod at the customer in front of you until they go on their merry way.
The Phone Call Is About Coming To Pick Your Kid Up
Oh, no problem. It's not like there's an issue with floor coverage today, right? It's not like I get paid hourly. No sweat. I'll just leave. (Ugh.)
Your Level Of Exhaustion Is Inversely Proportional To Your Tolerance Of Bullsh*t
Seriously, I am a flat-out monster to customers when I've been up the whole night before with a sick kid.
The Idea Of Having To Stand All Day After A Sleepless Night
It pretty much seems impossible. My body is not ready.
Having To Clean At Work
I always feel so conflicted about this. On the one hand, it feels like all I do when I'm home is clean up after my kids, so more cleaning isn't high on my list of Things I Want To Do. On the other hand, I don't have to clean up poop, toys, vomit, and old food. That, my friends, is pretty awesome.