Like thousands of other workers across the country, I work in a cubicle. I’ve been at my current employer for almost ten years. During the first year, not only did I have to adapt to a new role and a new company, but I also needed to adapt to a workspace that was a three-sided cubicle measuring maybe 6 feet by 7 feet, with my co-workers on the other side of each cube wall.
My company has published cube etiquette communications. These have included the basics we learned in kindergarten, like “use your inside voice,” and “keep your hands to yourself.” Okay, they don’t say exactly that, but the message is the same.
Over the course of time, I have overheard many conversations of varying degrees of appropriateness. One of the more entertaining conversations was between a mom and an elementary school aged child and the child’s caregiver. It started with the caregiver explaining to the mom a situation that was going on in the home. The conversation continued with a discussion between mom and child. Mom started explaining, in a very matter of fact way, how the child was expected to brush his teeth after breakfast. It escalated a bit as the time that the school bus was expected to arrive was drawing near. There was negotiating, pleading, threatening. . . Many of us have had similar conversations.
But-If my children’s caregiver had called me at work to manage through a rather simple situations, there would have been some lively discussion that evening when I got home. If she couldn’t handle this, what could I expect in the event of something more critical?
I have also seen or heard a wide variety of actions that are sometimes a bit amusing, sometimes a bit gross, and sometimes a bit disturbing. These include:
Burping, passing gas, teeth flossing, teeth brushing, extensive phone checking (which is a necessary form of communicating with kids getting home from school, etc. (I am talking about people who look at their phones more than their own PC monitors), clothes changing, shoe and sock removal, applying lotion to bare legs and arms, and the granddaddy of them all, that I cannot stand, fingernail clipping.
I once worked by a group of folks who talked very loudly over the walls. Let me tell you, each of them could have used the additional exercise of walking five steps to their co-worker. Annoying does not even begin to describe these guys.
The best example of their behavior was the day that Alan Hale, the man who played the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island, passed away. One of the guys found out about it (see phone checking above), and I was treated to 20 minutes of Skipper impersonations, Gilligan impersonations, episode recaps, and a lengthy discussion of Mary Ann verses Ginger. All shouted over the wall.
We would love to hear your stories from the cube…and any coping mechanisms you have are also welcome!Read More
As a working mother, I have never stopped worrying and questioning whether or not my career was negatively impacting my son. But along the way, there were times when circumstances convened to demonstrate that without a doubt my job was hurting my son. And those times were incredibly painful, but also very frustrating.
Although my job required long hours, thankfully, most of the time, I was able accomplish what was expected of me from the office where the law firm at which I was employed was located—Dallas. But along the way, there were periods when I was involved in cases that required me to travel.
When my son was in kindergarten in our church’s child care program where he had been enrolled since he was eighteen months old, I was involved in a case pending in Austin. As a result, I was out of town quite a bit. By this time, I was a single mother and my son’s father lived in Chicago. So when I was working in Austin, my nanny stayed overnight with my son and did everything that I would have done had I been home.
The normal stress of traveling was exacerbated by how bad I felt about leaving my son, and the incredibly contentious nature of the case. I was in the middle of a war that had fronts on many sides.
During this period, I attended a parent/educator team conference where I met with my son’s teacher and three other women, including the program’s director. I remember sitting on one side of a long table while the four school employees sat on the other. The fluorescent lighting glared on a scene that even before the meeting started felt surprisingly dark.
Honestly, I do not remember how the meeting began or what I was told during the time leading up to a critical juncture. At that point, the demeanor of the program’s director became very serious as she cleared her throat nervously and without qualification told me that my son did not do well both emotionally and in academic performance during the times that I was out of town. As they nodded in agreement, the faces of the other three women simultaneously bore expressions of assent with the director’s statement and disapproval of me.
The intensity and breadth of my internal reactions to this condemnation initially caused my mind to go blank; well not really blank, more like blindingly white with black asterisks sprinkled around the periphery. Then, as I tried to process the director’s statement, my reaction was guilt-ridden despair followed almost immediately by anger and frustration.Read More
I am an Olympics Junkie, and particularly the Winter Olympics. It is on my bucket list to go someday. It would have been easy to check it off by going to Salt Lake, in 2002, or Vancouver in 2010. Close, English speaking…but it was just not the time.
I work for Citi, a Proud Partner of the Olympics. So when I heard there was a sweepstakes where an employee would win a trip to the Winter Olympics, I thought this was my chance. I didn’t win, so this is still on my bucket list.
My DVR has been cleared, my evenings have been cleared, and I have been enjoying some serious couch time watching the games. I watch it all, the top events, like figure skating, and, of course, hockey, because even though no one in my house still plays, I love the speed and skill of the players. And I also like ski jumping, which is what brought my grandfather to the US from Sweden in the late 1940’s. Notable for the 2014 Olympics is that women will compete in ski jumping for the first time. Another barrier broken, kudos to the women that made that happen.
The talent, persistence, perseverance, and athletic abilities of Olympians have always fascinated me. Some people may fast forward through the pieces that show the athletes training, or in their hometown. Not me. I am truly inspired by their discipline, focus and hope. And almost every story includes commentary on the sacrifices made by the athlete and their family, to get them to the Olympic stage.
Moms of Olympians, and moms who are Olympians are featured in commercials that are running during the broadcasts. And I think they send nice messages about discipline, determination and support. Things we demonstrate to our children every day through our lives as working moms.
Proctor and Gamble has had a campaign for several Olympics, saluting the moms of Olympians. Currently one of the commercials they are running ends with, “For teaching us that falling only makes us stronger. Thank you Mom.” My kids aren’t Olympic athletes, but I know the sacrifices that I have made to get them to 19 and 23. The love I have poured on them, the encouragement I have given, the hours I have worked to make the money I have saved to make it possible for them to play various sports, go on educational trips and send them to college. And so I can only imagine what the mothers of Olympians have given of themselves.
My favorite so far is the AT&T commercial featuring US Luger Noelle Pikus-Pace. Called “Hours in a Day,” we see Noelle go through a typical working mom day, waking up early, working out, making ponytails, taking kids to school, soccer games. Then, while away at work, she watches videos of her kids, sent by her husband. Nicole’s work just happens to be on a skeleton track.
Across our country, there are millions of women who go through those same paces every day. And while we may not be Olympians, or be raising Olympians, the things we do every day to teach our kids that falling makes them stronger, is the same.
All mothers make sacrifices, and working mothers probably more. We miss school events and sporting events. We miss tuck ins when we have to travel for our jobs. We miss important meetings when we are home with sick children. We do this to provide for our families. We do this to use our talents.
GO TEAM USA!
Thanksgiving falls on the last possible date it can, calendar wise, this year. This is a good thing for me personally, because (1) I was out of town five weekends out of six and four in a row this fall, plus a few other weekday trips in between, and (2) I host the family Thanksgiving for my husband’s family. The extra few days will help as I clear the clutter that was not dealt with during that stretch. It’s a large crowd to begin with, and this year we will be blessed because my sister and her family can make the four hour trip to join us. So the tally stands at 28, with varying degrees of hunger, as some will have made one stop already.
While the late date plays in my favor this year, retailers seem a bit nervous about the loss of one weekend for holiday shopping. Many stores are now going to be open on Thanksgiving. While getting my large Diet Coke fountain soda today, (some of us do Starbucks, I do cold fizzy caffeine), the sign at McDonalds read “Yes! We will be open at 7:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving and stay open round the clock through Black Friday.”
And all I could think was, “Those poor people who have to work those days.”
I have to believe that there are many working mothers who will be forced to give up their Thanksgiving, or adjust their plans, because they are required to work on Thanksgiving. Maybe they love their jobs. Maybe it’s a paycheck to provide for their family. Either way, my guess is that these moms would rather not have to work on Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I have so many memories of the lovely meals put on the table by my mother. She never worked outside the home, and planned for days to get everything just right. And of course now I try to meet that standard, despite the fact that I work more than full time. But that is a topic for another day.
It makes me angry thatRead More
“What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies?”
These are questions that I was asked from time to time when I was raising my son as a single mother and working crazy long and intense hours as an attorney.
I will admit that when asked questions like this, I actually took a few seconds to rack my brain for an answer and then usually stammered out some kind of vague statement about reading . . . (the only things I was actually reading were children’s stories to my son, all kinds of documents and legal writing, and the covers of the tabloid magazines as I stood in line at the grocery store), or working out (by getting up extra early while my son was still sleeping or during my lunch hour in a rushed fashion).
And most of the time, these questions and my inability to provide meaningful answers left me feeling inadequate, like I was a boring individual since I did not have true hobbies or outside interests that I was actively taking part in and enjoying.
During the week, at the end of the day, I rushed home in order to spend some time with my son, eating dinner, going through the night time rituals that accompanied putting him to bed. And there were nights where I did not leave the office and get home until after my son was already asleep and all I had the energy for was a glass of wine while I sat sprawled on the sofa trying to decompress while staring at the television.
On weekends,Read More