This is the season for joy, festivities, and well-deserved time off with family. But for Samantha Walsh, a 47-year-old woman managing a high-end beauty store, the holidays brought exhaustion and frustration. As Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” played its final notes on Christmas Eve, Samantha, ready to leave, had already completed a long day’s work while her colleagues scurried to prepare for upcoming sales.

Samantha’s dedication to her job was commendable. With three decades of experience, including 25 years in retail management, she had a proven track record of success. Yet, her decision to step away from her career just weeks before Christmas raised eyebrows.

Working in retail during December is renowned for its challenges. For Samantha, it became even more demanding due to an unspoken expectation – that she, as a childless woman, should shoulder extra responsibilities so mothers could enjoy quality family time during the holiday season. A third of Samantha’s colleagues were mothers, and while legally entitled to parental leave, Samantha often found herself picking up the slack when they had to tend to their children’s needs.

This situation reached a breaking point for Samantha, leading her to make a bold choice. In October, she resigned from her thriving job. It wasn’t solely about Christmas; Samantha was disillusioned by the lack of recognition and support for childless women in the workplace. While parents could request leave for emergencies involving their dependents, Samantha’s father didn’t qualify because he didn’t live with her. Her journey to acceptance of her childless status wasn’t without its challenges, especially during Christmas, but it ultimately led to her decision.

Samantha’s experience highlighted the impact of part-time work among mothers, leading to less loyalty to the team. Sick days taken with little notice and the rise of “sickness” during the pandemic added to Samantha’s stress. She couldn’t fully enjoy her days off, as she was constantly preoccupied with staffing issues.

Christmas, a time of joy, turned into a distant dream for Samantha, who yearned to spend quality moments with her parents and her nine-year-old nephew. A memorable Christmas invitation turned into a missed meal, highlighting the unfairness of her relentless work schedule during the holiday season.

Leaving her job at the end of October proved to be a wise decision for Samantha. Her mental health improved, and her physical well-being significantly improved. Financial prudence during the pandemic allowed her to build a cushion, affording her time to enjoy simple pleasures like decorating her Christmas tree and planning a vacation with her partner, Dave.

Samantha’s next career move remained uncertain, but she had found a new sense of purpose. Her Facebook group for non-mothers had evolved into an Instagram community (thenonmumnetwork) and a forthcoming website by the same name. Samantha aimed to provide support and campaign for equality for non-mothers, challenging the silent burden carried by childless women, especially during challenging times when colleagues with children weren’t available for work.

In conclusion, Samantha’s story shines a light on the challenges faced by childless women in demanding industries like retail. Her decision to step away from her job was a bold move towards reclaiming her life and well-being. As she embarks on her mission to advocate for non-mothers, Samantha hopes to bring about positive change in society’s perception and treatment of childless women.