A very early, nondescript meeting popped up for me first thing in the morning, and I felt my stomach immediately sink. These last-minute meetings were a telltale sign of the dreaded layoff conversations that had recently been spreading through my company. I tried to mentally prepare myself and asked my kids if they could give me some space and quiet to take the call.

As my fate was revealed over Zoom and I was told my team would be impacted, I hung up and took a few minutes to collect myself. It felt like my world just came crumbling down, and I hadn’t even had coffee yet. I always knew this could happen, but it was incredibly surreal that it was actually happening to us now. I went out to the kitchen and told my family that I was unfortunately losing my job.

My kids gave me a hug and then asked, “What does this mean for our family?” It was a fair questiona loaded one, however. There were so many things to think about, and I hadn’t even had time to begin processing it yet. Kids sure are good at putting you on the spot, huh?

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For all of us, this was going to be a huge adjustment, but I had to think of the three main things they might be worrying about when they asked me that question.

The first thing I thought of was their concept of this company’s presence in our lives. I had worked for the same company their entire lives. I had zero children when I started working there and had all three of them over the course of my career. They had walked the halls of our building, had holiday parties in the courtyards, went to preschool at the onsite child development center, and donned the company shirts at company-sponsored volunteer events. They had made friends with my coworkers and their kids. They would be losing that part along with me. I’d have to help them understand that my not working there wouldn’t change the relationships we had made or the good we did (and could continue to do) for other people regardless of whether I worked there or not.

Then, I thought of the financial concept. Luckily we had always planned, saved, and lived within our means but did my losing my job mean losing our security to them? Losing our ability to support them? Not being able to pay for their sports and activities? Go on vacations as a family? I knew we would be fine, but it might mean we’d have to change some of our spending habits temporarily. I’d have to reassure them that this disruption for me would not become one for them. I had to make sure they still felt taken care of and stable.

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Lastly, I thought of the mental aspect. Job hunting can be a very stressful situation. Tireless hours would have to be spent searching, applying, networking, facing rejection, interviewing, and putting on a brave face. The emotional toll that puts on someone can be a lot. I’d have to be open and honest about my feelings and make sure they knew I would have some hard feelings along the way, that it might be a little bit of a roller coaster, and I might need them to step in to help a little more some days. They’d have to hang in there with me.

All I could really muster at that moment as they stared back at me waiting for a response was, “It’s going to be okay, guys, I promise.” I didn’t know the details quite yet, and I didn’t even know if that statement was true. We were in uncharted waters now. Layoffs happen to an employee as far as the company is concerned, but it’s actually a family they are laying off. I’d have to take off my employee hat and wear my mom hat full-time to ensure this event didn’t feel like the end of the world to them. We were going to be okay because it was my job now to make it okay.

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Nickey J Dunn

I'm a full-time wife, mom of three, employee, OCD Irish Aries. I'm originally from the Pacific Northwest, now living in Phoenix. I'm passionate about my family, writing, and writing about my family. Mental health, anti-bullying, and body-positive advocate. 

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