“You’d be a lot prettier if you dropped a little weight.”
My cheeks flushed deep red as I took a deep breath and laughed — that’s what I always do, I laugh, because saying “F*CK YOU, MOTHERF*CKER” would get me fired. I needed the job more than I needed to put my boss in his place on that particular day. I could handle it, I told myself. They’re just words.
I’m no stranger to working with difficult personalities. I’ve been employed in some capacity since I was 14-years-old; most of my jobs involved some level of clerical duties, like filing or answering the phone, and all of them required working with other people.
Working with people is hard, even for an extrovert like me who genuinely enjoys the company of others, because, unfortunately, work seems to bring out the a*sehole in almost everyone. I’ve held down jobs in supermarkets, hotels, cubicles, fast-food joints, and bookstores, and have experienced a wide range of unseemly behaviour from co-workers. Luckily though, motherhood prepared me well to deal with all sorts of difficult personalities. Or, maybe it’s the other way around, and working with jerks prepared me to be a mom? Either way, I’m grateful.
Here are a few personalities that motherhood prepared me to deal with.
1. The Sexist Pig
In every job I’ve held, there’s always at least one a*sehole who leers, makes inappropriate comments about my body, mentions I’d be prettier if I lost weight/dated him/smiled more, and treats me like the only reason I exist on Earth is for him to objectify. Before I had kids, this stuff bothered me a lot more, but there’s something about pushing a baby out of my vagina that transformed me into the kind of woman who doesn’t even hear that sh*t. The mere act of childbirth, combined with surviving colic and teething, seems to have armoured me with a*sehole-retardant shielding. Bonus: sexist pigs tend to avoid mums at all cost. Perhaps there’s a correlation there.
2. The Pessimist
There is always one person in the office who sees the glass half-empty, much like a toddler does when he wakes up for the day and decides that he wants to be Darth Vader, but then he realises that he’s not Darth Vader, and everything for the remainder of the day is terrible. The best way to handle pessimism, both in the home and the workplace, is to sing “Wheels On The Bus” until everyone cheers up. Obviously.
3. The Snobby Elitist
You know the barista who wrinkles her nose when you opt for cow’s milk rather than soy? I’ve worked with her before, and she sucks She’s a lot like my 8-year-old who eye rolls the regular neighbourhood park and the average peanut butter and jelly sandwich, because in an ideal world every day would be Kid Day. To both of them I say, YOU GET WHAT YOU GET AND YOU DON’T THROW A FIT.
P.S. Don’t put your vegan on me.
4. The Narcissist
Oh, this one is my favourite. Somehow he always inserts himself into every situation, conversation, and negotiation. Dude, it’s not always about you. Here, have a lollipop (or a TPS report) and shut up. My parents used to tell me, “The world does not revolve around you,” which used to kind of hurt my feelings, but now that I’ve begun saying it to my own three children I understand the true meaning.
5. The Talker
My daughter is 4-years-old and while yes, she truly is a joy to have around, she also interrupts me CONSTANTLY — just like the lady who used to peep over the top of my cubicle wall. I enjoy the conversation, but not when I’m working, and especially not when I’m under a deadline. Distraction is the best course of action here. My Little Pony, snacks, pretending to be on the phone, or maybe just shouting “NOT NOW!” All of these tactics work wonderfully.
Motherhood is essentially hands-on Human Resources training. It’s a jungle out there, people.