I recently celebrated the one year anniversary of my current gig as a SAHM to one adorable but demanding boss, and before tackling this grueling occupation I worked an 8-5 office job for 15+ years. While I definitely miss my work besties, weekly Costco birthday cakes, and lunch gossip, I don’t feel much nostalgia for office culture, or the oodles of difficult people I had to work with over the years. Recently, though, in a one-on-one with my current boss, I felt some serious déjà vu. I realized that this little nut that I spend my days with has a little too much in common with some of those Office Space-esque coworkers from my previous work environment. What do my sweet, energetic toddler and those omnipresent troublemakers have in common? A little too much, I tell you…
1. They are both pretty crappy at communicating clearly. You write long emails, you receive two word replies. You call them with questions and get their voicemail every time. They constantly use meaningless words like “touch base” and “circle back” and “synergy” in meetings, which makes you wonder how much work they are actually doing. In the toddler’s defense, she only has a dozen or so words which makes the grunting, whining, and pointing is a little less nerve grating.
2. Entire happy hours are devoted to venting about their latest antics. Some days that coworker pushes your buttons all day long, and all you can do is group text your work clique to demand a 5 pm margarita. Attendance mandatory! When you have a toddler, it’s basically the same scenario. You fall into the couch with a glass of wine and make sure to spare no detail to your significant other about how today the kid poured the dog’s water all over the kitchen, proceeded to eat dog food, and then slipped in the water and cried.
3. Both are always hungry and will literally eat anything. Offices are basically buffet restaurants exempt from health department grades. The break room, vacant office, printer table, etc. are always full of birthday cake, pot luck goodies, and left over catering plates from big meetings. And just as quickly as you think “Who would eat that donut that’s been sitting out for 3 days?” there goes that coworker in a trail of powdered sugar. Toddlers wholeheartedly share this zest for the semi-edible. I’ve witnessed my daughter completely boycott my carefully prepared meal only to eat it off the floor 30 minutes later. The good news is that food bribes are almost 100% effective with both parties.
4. The best method for dealing with their tantrums constantly changes. Crabby coworkers need varying levels of intervention TBD on a daily basis. We’ve all worked with that person who objects to anything and everything and refuses to go with the flow. Some days require push back and confrontation via email, and other days you have to hope that by completely ignoring their shenanigans they will somehow get with the program. Um, toddler moms, sound familiar? Some days you try to talk some sense into the screaming child refusing to leave Target without her new favorite panda bear purse, and others you just buy it and add it to the pile of other tantrum/bribe toys.
5. Just when you have written them off as completely insane, they surprise you. No better feeling than when the day after the happy hour described in #2, despite your dismal expectations, you walk in to a meeting and there is a thoroughly completed report AND copies for all the meeting participants. Aw shucks…be careful, crabby coworker, I might get used to this. At home, your sweet toddler clearly keeps a mental tally of the number of minutes remaining until your breaking point and just before the clock strikes time out, they try out a new word in the cutest baby voice ever or you catch them holding their baby in the most gentle, loving way and just like the breaking point clock is back to zero.