Getting Along With NonMoms at Work

So, it’s not easy when, in the middle of Labor Day weekend, your little daughter starts vomiting and all the plans of fun in the fading August sun dissipate down the toilet along with anything you try to feed the poor little thing. And then Tuesday shows up, the girl is still too ill to go to daycare, the dad has pressing job matters he can’t avoid, and there’s another eight hours of time off from your job burned – and there’s the cookies you were supposed to bake for department x as part of a group effort with your coworkers still existing on the Platonic plane of ideals – not made.

You tell your boss, and then you let your coworker know, too, just to make sure she knows you’re not going to be there.

“My daughter is ill, ” you say.

“What am I going to do about these cookies I made?” she asks, bitterly, resentfully, – pissed.

No “gee, sorry, hope she gets better” from this coworker. No sympathy. And maybe that’s right – she doesn’t have kids, doesn’t really want to have kids, and has expressed before that she’s not going to let me get any kind of special treatment in terms of needing to hand off overtime work to her because I have a child I have responsibility for – oh no. She isn’t going to let anyone get away with that.

So I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess – but it made me want to scream – and it made me want to cry. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me because I chose to have children – I’m happy to have my daughter, believe me. The fact that all of my days off go to being with her when she’s sick – no more ‘sick days’ when I just need time to myself to decompress – that doesn’t bother me. The fact that I have to constantly weigh my priorities and try to prove that I’m still a good little worker even though I’m exhausted and worried and strained about my kid or my pregancy – well, I don’t expect special treatment.

But I guess I do expect some courtesy – and I don’t expect to feel guilty or resented because I have an ill child. I don’t expect a non-mom to understand exactly, but – but I do wish it were easier to explain that it’s not that I have it easy – not at all – and some niceness would be – well, much appreciated.

It’s hard to be in a team at work where I’m the only mother of the lot – sure, my boss has kids, and he’s very understanding about the challenges – but he’s also the boss. He doesn’t have anyone to answer to the way I do when he’s got to make a decision between work and family. And he doesn’t have coworkers giving him the evil eye – or the evil phone conversation – when he’s got a family crisis taking over his ability to be a perfect coworker.

I’m trying not to feel sorry for myself – all I care about, when it comes down to it – is easing the misery of my baby.  Still, I’m stressed – nothing is more scary to me than feeling judged by bosses and coworkers for logistical things I can’t control instead of for my job performance. Sigh.  If only I could work from/at home – all the magazines with their articles on working mothers make it sound so easy!

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5 Responses to Getting Along With NonMoms at Work

  1. Cathy says:

    This person’s response is not a function of being a non-mom. It’s a function of being a jerk. There are lots of jerks out there. Don’t let it get you down — you’ve got the right priorities. Here’s to wiping runny noses and staying up all night with a cold compress! That’s why we became Moms — tell ’em all to drop dead (figuratively and internally if you want to keep your job!).

  2. ChrEliz says:

    I wonder sometimes if people like this will wake up someday, if they ever happen to become mothers themselves, and realize, “damn, I just really didn’t get it all those years…” Although I guess people who are this lacking in empathy in general really would be better off remaining child-free, for the kids’ sakes. At any rate, sending hugs and feel-better vibes to litte miss J. And a big virgin margarita to you. ; ) xo chr.

  3. E says:

    I agree with Cathy that this person is simply being a jerk. I work with plenty of nonmoms & they don’t act like this when I need to take care of my family. Focus on your family right now – everything will work out at the office when you get back. Maybe this will lead to some productive conversations about this situation – you might even open their eyes to being more understanding! 🙂

  4. Amanda says:

    Darn it, just posted comment and evil mouse lost it for me w/ wrong button click…eek. Anyway, was saying that you are too hard on yourself. Have seen you at work first hand, and was quite impressed how you handled a very large project – all while J was quite young. You don’t need to worry about being a good worker- you are!!! Just don’t feel bad if priority is child. Your priorities can change in time. Right now at work, I’ve accepted that I am not in a career growth phase, I’m a good worker but while babies young, not working the hours to advance to manager, time for this is in a couple of years. Childhood is fleeting and I choose to enjoy them now. I don’t think career has to be all or nothing.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Like the others, I agree with Cathy. The co-worker is a jerk. You can either ignore her or confront her. Given that you’re pregnant and have plenty of other things to deal with, it might be best to ignore her for now.

    I work with men and only men. No women. I also work at home and there is no traditional office, so our work is conducted primarily via email and phone. It makes things interesting when I have a sick child and can’t get a project done when I said I would. Luckily, everyone seems to understand and they know I’ll finish the project as soon as I am able.

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