Friday, 4 May 2012

Bitchy Lions

Lately a lot of people (okay, only women) have been asking me, “So…what is
going back to work really like?”

Most of the people (women) who ask me this are childless, because women who
have children know the answer: It. fucking. sucks. Full stop.

There is never a moment of my long, monotonous, caffeine-infused day when
I don’t feel like I am disappointing someone. Here are the most common living
beings affected by my guilt:

My husband
My dog
My friends
My family
My boss and co-workers

Honestly, I feel like I am adding my boss and co-workers out of responsibility
— I don’t care too much if they go home cursing me. Everyone else on the list,
however…I hate feeling like I could have done more for them at any given time.

Maybe I should back it up — I am supposed to be writing about work, not guilt.
(But oh, the guilt, pulling at me…)

So…here I am a few years ago at 25 with my new job — work, work, work, get
promoted, work, work, get a raise, work, work, get pregnant, work, work, get
heartburn, work, work, leave work to have a baby four years after all the work,
work I mentioned above.

I work with women, a LOT of women, NONE of whom have children. Great.

So, all the women are so “happy” for me, they throw me a shower before I take
leave and call or write me one-line emails every few months just to check in and
gush over baby. (He is fabulous; I’ll give them that.)

If this were a movie script, this is where the scene of rapidly turning calendar
pages would be to denote my maternity leave whizzing by at breakneck speed.

Okay, 365 days of government pay (thank you, government!) is over —
back to work. I lost sleep for weeks, if not months, before going back to the
land of security tags, email logins, and meetings. I would cry and beg my
husband, “Can’t I please go back to waitressing? Please??” (For the record,
while he would have been okay with that, I think he was right to suggest that it
wasn’t the best idea I ever had.)

So, Monday morning comes…the dreaded Monday. W and I get up, I hold in
tears all through shower and diapers and even the daycare drop-off. I will never,
ever forget the kind, kind daycare woman (with over 25 years’ experience, and a
daughter in law school — yeah, she knows her stuff) who took W from my arms
as he screamed and clawed and grasped for me. She looked at me and said, “It’s
okay, Mommy — he’s safe.” I wanted to scream, “He’s NOT safe! He needs ME,
not YOU!” But of course she was right; he was safe.

I, however, was entering a den of bitchy lions.

I didn’t cry at work until the first long weekend came. All the bitchy lions (BLs)
were going to their cottages (presumably to throw darts at posters of pregnant
women). I really didn’t have too much to do at the office since everyone had
assumed I would need at least three weeks to turn my brain back on after
my “year off.” I knew I was going to be the only person in the office that Friday,
so I timidly asked my boss if I could possibly also take a vacation day.

“No.” She didn’t skip a beat — it “wouldn’t look good.”


“Okay,” I thought. “I suppose that makes sense. I should really try to look like I
care. I will work.”

And so I did. Alone. The first of many points to be scored by Team BL.

This is merely installment number one of the BL saga. There will be more to
come. It took me a while to clue in, but the BLs think I am different and therefore
treat me differently. The changes are subtle, but they are there. I, like any
woman, spend hours replaying conversations in my head and making excuses
for why the BLs are treating me so differently. The jury is still out. And so, “How is
work?” you ask. Honestly, I’m still deciding how I feel — but most days it fucking

-Tightrope Mama

[photo credit: Asa Wilson via Flickr]

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