Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Don't *Think* She's Trying to Be Awful But...

[UPDATE: ok, before you get all mad and up in arms about my boss, just know that after a few hours of feeling really bad at my desk, I confronted her with these conversations and she was profusely, PROFUSELY apologetic. She felt awful. And promised to be more aware of things coming out of her mouth in the future. And yes, I do think it was very sincere.]

Honestly, most days, I wish my boss wouldn't talk. At least not talk to me.

I need to back up for a sec. I have a kick ass job. And with very little (ok, one) exception, a stellar set of co-workers. The flexibility and freedom I have here I will not find anyplace else. So, whenever I mumble/grumble about being under appreciated, etc. etc, I just need to keep all of that in mind.

That being said, sometimes my boss says the worst things. Without even knowing it. This is not a function of "oh you're grieving and you're oversensitized" nor is it a new trend. It's not new; It is not specific to me. Survey any member of our office team and each of them could probably give you a good set of jaw-dropping, she-did-not-just-say-that anecdotes. Makes for great lunch conversation. Day to day mental health, not so much.

For instance...

Yesterday we were reviewing some new employees and trying to figure out how best to use their skill sets in the upcoming year. When discussing a newbie who my boss had planned to place up front and center in some legislative things (my area), I balked and said that the support I needed was behind the scenes, you know, the hard, calling members, not fun stuff. Boss says, "Well, we are lucky to have you now that you aren't taking 4-5 months off, but this had been the plan...."

Lucky. She said lucky. And then intimated that me coming back to work (because I'd far rather be here than on maternity leave with healthy children, right?) somehow screwed up how she thought things were going to be this year.

Really sorry I fucked up your plans. Truly, I am.

Today, we were chatting in my office about future gubernatorial elections in our state, the need for transition docs, speculations on who might be the new members of the administration that we'd have to work with and she gives her guesses on who they might be. She intimates it would be far better if we had people in mind to recommend for leadership positions. Intimates that "if I weren't off trying to make babies" she could think of a real recommendation that she would make...

Yes, because I always planned to put my life/career on hold for several years as we struggled to build a family.

Once again, so sorry I fucked up your plans.

And here is where I must remind myself that I have never been someone to define myself with my job. My career and what I do during the day does not define who I am or add/detract to my self worth. These things that she is talking about - they DON'T MATTER.

But it still adds more sting to the "what am I doing with my life?" that accompanies the realization of the time spent trying to get to one, simple (for some) goal. Builds on the "can't have your cake and eat it too - well, you can, but it won't taste very good" understanding of trying to juggle a career and baby-making and hopefully baby-having.

Sigh.

At a Conference for Women a few years ago, the keynote speaker said something that struck me as so (sadly) true:

"The trouble is that your biological clock and your career clock are ticking together at the same pace."

As in, oh you're in your 30s and want to have a baby? Guess what? This is probably the one and only phase in your career where you have enough experience to move forward and enough youth and ambition to get it done. Which do you want? You want both? Oh, good luck...

Sucker....

15 comments:

Mo and Will said...

I want to KILL your boss on your behalf. Have to say it.

Very effective of you to speak to her and help her have insight about her comments. I'm sure she wasn't consciously trying to hurt you (and likely even using sarcasm as a defense against her discomfort with the enormity of your loss) but STILL.

I like the conference for women quote about our career and biological clocks. hadn't thought of it that way before but it rings very true.

sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders about your priorities. It is so tough knowing exactly what you want (children) and having to go through so damn much to try to get it (and have little control over the outcome). makes me a little nuts (could use some acceptance over here).

Fantastic post. Thanks as always for sharing.

Mo

Barbara said...

Good for you for bringing it up. I hope it helps.

Some people really should have a preview screen inside their heads!

noswimmers said...

Insensitive bosss? I have one of those too. But damn! That comment has to take the cake. I'm so sorry.
((HUGS))

Amy said...

I'm glad she apologized, but still...your boss needs a filter or some sensitivity training or something.

luna said...

glad you could at least talk to your boss about her sucky comment.

Soralis said...

Glad that she apologized. Some people just need a filter.

Take care and sending you some Hugs!

Dani819 said...

Good for you for speaking up, though I'm sorry there as anything for you to have to speak up about. Sigh...

For months now, I have been saying that our biology and our sociology are completely out of sync. Our bodies still work like it's 1940 and we're all set to have babies straight out of high school. Can somebody get on this, please?

Hope today is better- or at least quieter.

dana said...

I know you talked with her and she apologized but...WTF? Shaking my head....

Clearly, her sympathy chip needs to be recharged.

hugs!

lostintranslation said...

Ugh! Good for you for speaking up though and I'm glad she apologized. Hopefully she has learned something from it and will think before she speaks next time...

Great quote from the conference for women. That is so true!

Kristin said...

I'm so glad you already spoke to your boss. If you hadn't, I might have to beat her for you.

ICLW

annacyclopedia said...

Well done for bringing it up - it's those times when we have to reach out in the midst of our pain to sensitize other people to what we are going through that I think have the most impact. And good for your boss for being able to hear you.

So true about the career and biological clocks thing. I've solved that for the time being by letting my career plans and ambitions (such as they were) take a backseat to the rest of my life. It's working great for me right now, although I hate to think what it's doing to my retirement plans.

Ryan's Mommy said...

Good for you for laying it out for her. I've not lost a child, but I have struggled with infertility for six years, and some of the things people say just blow me away. I have learned to expect it. People who understand how it is are truly the exception, rather than the norm.

nutmeg96 said...

"Intimates that "if I weren't off trying to make babies" she could think of a real recommendation that she would make..."

Um, discrimination much? And the rest of it is just appalling. I'm sorry you have a clueless boss. :(

chicklet said...

The trouble is that the career clock and biological clock are ticking, but things aren't working, so they both just KEEP ON ticking and you get no satisfaction of at least accomplishing one of them.

I'm glad you approached her and she apologized.

Kristin (kekis) said...

I am so proud of you for confronting her. I'm even more proud of waiting to do it once you had time to cool off and sort it out! Don't know if I could've done the same.

People that haven't been through just *don't* get it. Good for you for helping her get a clue because she wouldn't have known without your assistance.

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