I have two kids – Reagan, 18 months and Jimmy, 4 months. If you are doing the math, which is not hard, you will notice they are incredibly close…some might say too close…
I certainly didn’t anticipate that I would be pregnant throughout the entirety of a two+ year global pandemic (if we’re being honest, I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to be pregnant for two years regardless). But becoming a first and then a second-time mom in two years during these "unprecedented times" – a time, even now, that is defined by Zoom calls, quarantine, and endless sweatpants – has highlighted the importance of company culture. I’m here to share my story.
Let’s bring it back for a minute to a time before COVID….
Two(ish) years ago my husband and I found out I was pregnant. What a time it was – 2020 had just started, COVID was barely a whisper, and #newyearnewme was trending. I was ready to seize the year. It was my time. I was going to be a beautiful, glowing, pregnant professional – what you see on Instagram – the working soon-to-be mom that has it all.
Flash forward two months, twenty pounds, and one global pandemic later...
I sat (laid) on my couch clutching a bottle of Tylenol and a bucket. My "pregnancy glow" was really a combination of sweat and rosacea. I was trapped in a 1,100 sq. ft. condo with my year-old bulldog and my husband. Nowhere to go, no one to see, literally nothing.
I'll spare you the rest of the dramatics and get straight to the point. The reality is, the glamor of pregnancy was, in my case, a fallacy. I was exhausted and emotional, all while balancing a workload and the complexities of life.
By April, we were met with another curveball: Our daughter was diagnosed prenatally with Down Syndrome. We were lucky as this wasn’t the first time my family had heard this news – my cousin Cameron was born with Down syndrome 21 years ago. But despite knowing Cameron, growing up with Cameron, and seeing Cameron thrive, I was devastated. This wasn't what I had expected or hoped for. This wasn't the vision I had for my future, for my child's future.
This wasn't easy. I struggled. I felt alone. There was no distraction from our situation.
In the months to come, we processed the news. We researched, prepared, joined expectant family groups, and talked with family and friends. We grieved the loss of the journey we expected and became excited about the journey we were on.
And having had our daughter, I can say without hesitation that she is the greatest thing to happen to our family.
Fast forward to March of 2021…
One year of quarantine and one new baby. Four people (Regan, my husband, myself, and our nanny) plus a dog coexisted in our condo. Most days I operated out of my hybrid bathroom/office while my husband took calls from our bedroom and our daughter and dog consumed the rest of our limited space. I wouldn’t say we were thriving, but certainly surviving.
But, as it turns out, the universe can have a sick sense of humor…
We took a much-needed break from our cramped condo – my husband went skiing while I stayed back with the baby. On this particular weekend, my husband hit a patch of ice, fell, and broke his ankle in four places requiring major surgery. The same day I found out I was pregnant…again…
I hope you’re laughing with me at this point.
As previously mentioned, I’m not a great pregnant person. And being 8 weeks pregnant with a 5-month-old, a dog, and a completely immobile husband was (and frankly still is) my worst nightmare. Not to mention we now needed to find a place to live that could fit a family of four in an insanely competitive housing market.
I do want to assure you, we were all able to see the humor (albeit dark humor) in this. I mean, this is something out of a movie. But, once again, we were in another incredibly challenging situation in the midst of an extremely isolating time.
Now, with that in mind, let's talk about company culture.
Despite many of us not working in an office, we still all spend the majority of our time working. It's easy to feel disconnected from the people you work with when you’re remote. There are not as many “watercooler” conversations anymore, and some have begun to see coworkers as just “people I work with” and not “teammates."
At the start of the pandemic, companies tried to counter this with Zoom happy hours,lunch-and-learns, and team get-togethers. But as time went on, a more important part of company culture took center stage – good people and strong company values. I felt this firsthand at Crayon as I struggled with the loneliness of quarantine, coming to terms with my daughter's diagnosis, navigating the world as a new, back-to-work mom, and then, almost immediately after, a newly pregnant mom of a 5-month-old and a husband completely unable to walk.
Coworkers checked in on me. Managers asked how I was. People genuinely cared about our situation and empathized with our challenges. Crayon gave me the time I needed to step back and care for my family. I was able to preserve my mental health and focus my attention on getting us back to zero.
It was not the team outings that made a difference, it was the people and company values.
Thinking more specifically, there is a value stressed at Crayon that resonates, "Maximizing Impact." We aspire to greatness as a business, and that means we’re constantly looking to maximize impact at every position. That includes maximizing the impact of our interactions, no matter how small. This mentality creates an inclusive space that is grounded in empathy. It isn't rocket science, it's being a decent human being. It's approaching every situation with understanding and flexibility and reminding yourself and others that you're not just a cog in the wheel, not just a coworker, but a part of a team that has your back.
So, to wrap this up…
With the help of family, friends, and a kick-ass company, the Durocher’s came out on top. Alex recovered before Jimmy arrived. We moved into a new house in October and had our fabulous baby boy in November. It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t easy. There’s no sleep, no breaks, Reagan’s teething, our dog still needs to be walked, and Jimmy has projectile vomited over every article of clothing I own, but it’s fun and it’s beautiful. And having a people-first company culture – one where you aren’t afraid to sign off at 5 pm to feed the kids or take a minute during the day for yourself – really makes a major difference.
In a time that hasn’t been easy, Crayon’s culture put me at ease. And, while my story isn’t new or unique, I think the moral is profoundly important: when navigating difficult life situations, does your company support you? Crayon’s people-centered culture and values have made all the difference.
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