Since becoming a mom and quitting my formally paying job, teaching elementary school, I’ve come to hate the line for “occupation” on fill in the blank forms. For a while I filled in “Mom,” but that seemed kind of, well, defensive and weird. “Stay at Home Mom” sounded even more defensive, as if I were challenging the intake staffer to ask me about what I did all day. Now I just put “N/A,” Not Applicable. I didn’t train for this position, take a test, or get hired. I had sex. And it worked. Ta da- mom. But while it’s not a formal job, for all intents and purposes it is what I have devoted most of my time to these past six and a half years and for well into the foreseeable future. My job is to make these boys into responsible, engaging, endearing and educated men who will FOR THE LOVE OF GOD put their dirty clothes in the hamper and their dishes in the sink. Oh yeah, and make a difference.
While browsing the Internet recently I saw a sidebar recommendation to check out an article on ehow.com entitled “How to Define a Hostile Work Environment.” Curious/unable to sleep I clicked to check it out. That is when I discovered that what I had only suspected was actually true. Mom is not only my job but my work environment can indeed be defined as hostile. Lets examine, shall we?Per the article…
1. Discrimination may manifest itself as inappropriate jokes or slurs, stereotyping or blatant insults. The discrimination does not need to be directed at you personally to constitute discrimination, if it causes you to feel uncomfortable or alarmed.
At my job site I feel uncomfortable and alarmed on a daily basis, sometimes even hourly if it’s a weekend and the kids are home full time. I’m alarmed at the mess. I’m uncomfortable seeing my boys with their hands down their pants watching television. Inappropriate jokes or slurs? Where do I even begin? When is toilet humor ever appropriate? I’ve heard so many terms for every stinky body function I could catalog them using the Dewey Decimal System. And arm farting? I consider that a blatant insult to humanity and civility.
2. Know that if you feel threatened by another person’s actions, words or demeanor, you may be in a hostile work environment. Threatening behavior at work may also include retaliatory threats, indication that you will lose your job, pay or position within a company.
If I had a dollar for every time my spawn spewed out “I don’t love you anymore” I could buy myself a gold watch and retire. My position with my “company,” changes rapidly and without warning. Like a Jewish Mary Magdalene I am either revered like a Virgin (post-cookies, special activity, extra bedtime snuggling) or a Whore (implementing consequences, enforcing bedtime, who knows what but it angered Them). I’ve been told to leave and never come back. I’ve been begged to stay on a Saturday night. They love their dad more, their babysitter more, they want to go to a new family. I have absolutely no job stability or guarantee of longevity whatsoever.
3. Understand that any form of sexual harassment creates a hostile work environment. Inappropriate innuendos, touching, advances, obscene jokes and discrimination based on gender are some forms of sexual harassment.
a. Between my husband, two boys and Frank the Weiner-Lab mix, if I never see another penis again it’ll be too soon. Too much of what started as a good thing. Just too, too much.
b. Last week the three-year-old asked to see my nipples. When I refused, he then said, in a sing-songy voice, “I’m looking at them” and proceeded to stare at my fully covered breasts with bulging eyes and a sinister smile. I still feel dirty.
c. I haven’t been forced to take this many naked showers with boys since my college boyfriend.
4. Feeling stressed in the workplace due to the actions of another, you may be in a hostile workplace. You may have legal recourse if the stress is sufficient to adversely affect your job or life outside of work.
Let us consider…does my workplace stress adversely affect my job or life outside of work? I don’t really understand the question. Life outside of work? I am always on the job. Mid-week, mid-drink or halfway to hungover, I still have to be at the ready. I AM THE JOB. Which is why not only is my work environment hostile, I am too.
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