If I think about it, I probably spend most of my life at work. I work 5, sometimes 7, days a week doing a job that I absolutely love and with some of my favourite people. Lots of my work colleagues have become real close friends. But there are some that are just colleagues and they don’t know much about my personal life. I do not keep my son a secret. But I also don’t go shouting it from the rooftops. I like to just get on with my day and work is one of my happy places. It’s an escape from my everyday life and doesn’t allow me to think too much about anything other than my students. My relationship with my colleagues is important I am completely myself around them, but I do hold back a little bit. And there are several reasons why.
The main one is that I don’t want to make them uncomfortable. People become incredibly awkward around you when anything baby related is brought up or when they find out about it. You very quickly go from being ‘normal’ in their eyes, to the person that the awful thing happened to. They don’t know what to say and sometimes act a little foolish about it all but is usually because they are anxious about it all and haven’t encountered a woman like me before. I am chatty and smiley and will seem full of life to some people. But then when they find out it changes their perception of you. They tilt their heads and give you the ‘I feel sorry for you’ look. I find myself apologising to them for making them feel embarrassed and my nervous laugh makes an appearance. It can be mortifying, especially if they do it in front of other people.
Social media, in particular Facebook, has made this situation a whole lot worse. When I first started at my current place of work, one of the first things that happened was everyone started to add me as a friend on Facebook. This was tricky for me as I have always mentioned my son on there and helped to promote baby loss awareness. So I don’t add them straight away as I don’t want them to find out straight away. I’m sorry but some people are downright nosy and they will do some snooping and before you know it they are bringing it up when I’m tucking into my lunch. Tactless is a word I would use to describe some colleagues of mine!
Baby showers. Let’s talk about these. My work place is filled with women so there are a few baby showers a year. I never go. They are the one thing I dread more than anything. They make me thing of mine and how bloody pointless it was in the end. I was sat there with a t-shirt with a stork on it playing ridiculous games. I was carefree and I hate that I remember what that time was like. So I don’t attend them. I don’t want to be sat there in front of everyone feeling like I absolutely don’t belong and feeling like everyone is staring at me! But then when you don’t go you are deemed as being unsupportive. They just don’t get it and I’m not prepared to explain it to them because at the end of the day I can walk out of there and not have to speak to any of them until tomorrow.
I have been incredibly lucky to make some awesome friends at work and they understand and help me with the tougher days. my bosses have been amazing and let me have all the time I need when things are not great. It’s just important to know that it can be extremely difficult for a bereaved mother in the workplace. We need a bit of compassion and for some people to just think a little before they say things they cannot take back.
Thanks for reading.