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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mareda Sigmon Cobb and Carrie Sigmon Yelton, June 16 and 18, 1979. Interview H-0115. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Balancing motherhood and work

Yelton explains how she balanced work and childcare, and she also discusses how maternity leave policies changed over the years.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mareda Sigmon Cobb and Carrie Sigmon Yelton, June 16 and 18, 1979. Interview H-0115. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you have any kids?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes, I've got five.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When were they born?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
I had two boys before I married him, and then the others I have are three girls. My first one was born when I was seventeen.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So just after you'd started to work.
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
The other one was born four years later. Then we got married, and we've got three.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you quit work when you had your babies?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How long did you stay out?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
I'd work on long as I could [laughter] , sometimes six, seven months, and then quit.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Then how long did you stay out?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
We used to have to stay out three months before you'd go back to work, but now you can go back to work after they're a couple of weeks old if you want to.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you mean the company wouldn't let you come back before three months?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
No. But now they do.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why was that?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
I just don't know why they didn't, but they didn't.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So it was a policy that you had to stay out for three months.
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes, it was a policy.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Could you come back right into your same job?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes, they had to hold your same job. They're supposed to do that yet when you get out and have a baby. But you can work on up now till two or three weeks before you have it, if you want to. And they'd come back. Now I went back when my last baby was three weeks old, because I went out to show her off.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You went up to the plant?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes, at Kayser-Roth. And the bossman said, "Are you ready to come back to work?" and I thought he was just joking. I said, "Yes, anytime," and next week here he come, and I was washing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
He came over to the house?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes. He said, "Carrie, are you ready to come back to work?" I said, "Yes, if you need me." So there I left my washing, and I said, "I have to get ready, though." And I went across the street to my neighbor, and she kept the baby. But I went back to work when she was three weeks old. I went back one day, and they sold us out the next day to Kayser-Roth. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who took care of the different kids?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
My sister-in-law, then my neighbor Mrs. Woody across the street. Them was the only two babysitters I ever had. Well, my mother kept them, too, for me before she died.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you ever have anybody that came in and helped you with housework?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
No.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you just had your neighbor and your sister-in-law. You'd take the kids over to their house?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes, after Mama died.