Work Life Balance

When None Of Your Co-Workers Is A Parent

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A friend of mine—not a parent, as will quickly become clear—told me about something that had happened to her at work the other day, something that had completely frustrated her because it had been a complete and total injustice.

Apparently, everyone at the office was working on a collective deadline and was therefore expected to stay until at least 8:00 pm, but then one of the women received permission to leave at six o’clock because the woman’s daughter was going to be performing in a ballet recital.

“I mean, what the hell?” my friend asked. “I wanted to leave at six too. I had stuff I wanted to do! It’s not like I used an excuse like my dog missed me. And my dog does miss me!”

Instead of immediately telling my friend that she was being myopic and that she really, really ought to stop comparing her dog to a child, I first filed away the information that, despite if it was the reality of the situation, I should never use a child-related obligation to leave work early. Unless I wanted to be considered a slacker by my childless co-workers.

After filing that thought away, though, I immediately told my friend that she was being myopic and that she really, really ought to stop comparing her dog to a child. Because she is my friend and because she is not a total jerk, she understood the points that I made to her. Namely that I highly doubted that this woman wanted to leave anyone in the lurch. But that if she was given permission to leave, then it seemed like the place that required her presence more crucially was her daughter’s ballet recital, not the office. Also that there is a huge difference between leaving for a child-related obligation and an obligation that was not an obligation at all, but just involved “wanting to do other things.” And finally, I asked whether or not this sort of issue was an ongoing problem with this woman, or if it was a rare occurrence? Because if it was a rare occurrence then maybe just give the woman a pass and let it go? I could practically guarantee that this woman did not want to have to use her child as an excuse to leave work early.

My friend agreed with me and said she was just venting her frustrations, but then said, “Don’t get so upset. It’s not like I think you would ever behave unprofessionally because of your kids.”

I kind of felt like screaming, right then and there, What does that even mean??? Why is being a parent in conflict with being professional?

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