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Being the Office Mom

Categories: Push my Button

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Don’t get me started about Lois. Lois was the secretary I shared with two peers and our collective boss. She was awesome. She scheduled my life, reminded me of stuff I had forgotten to do, took my messages, typed all my correspondence and reports, ran interference when necessary, and DID MY FILING. Plus she gave me advice on my single-mom status (whether I wanted it or not) and even invited me to join her bowling league. We all loved her and knew that she ran the place.

Lois was maybe 5 years older than me. But we all called her “Mom.”

Is there an Office Mom in your office? (Is it you?)

I read this blog post at Mothering21.com recently on how we shouldn’t mother younger colleagues. At first I thought, Okay, point taken. Reaching across the conference table to wipe a bit of jelly off somebody’s chin with your spit-wetted napkin IS a bit much. And then I got to thinking about it. The focus of the post is that mothering-type behavior ages us and we shouldn’t want that. Huh? Yeah, in some ways Lois seemed light-years older than me, but that was her personality, I figured. She did our FILING and saved our you-know-whats, time and again. She was a goddess. We revered her. Did that make her old?

That was a while ago. I left Lois’ wing years ago and haven’t worked in an office — unless you’re referring to the corner of my living room where my laptop is plugged in — in years. Have times changed? I hate to think that remembering people’s birthdays ages us out of a job, but that’s what was implied in the post:

Being the office mom will make you old, uncool, and uncompetitive.

I say screw that. Be who you are. Forbes thinks the Office Mom approach –generous, team-building, focusing on relationships — is a welcome change from an old, tyrannical, authoritative style, so nyah. Everybody in my office knew that Lois was an integral part of the organization and that things weren’t going to run without her (we sweated the six weeks through her maternity leave and cheered when she came back). I only hope she was paid accordingly.

The only real downside I can see to being the Office Mom is that you never get time off. At work you’re the mom and at home you’re the mom. I can see a flaw in that plan. Maybe Lois finally had enough mothering and ran off to Costa Rica with the cabana boy. I should check on that.



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One comment so far...

  • I am the “office mom” type. I don’t think it really builds respect. It’s OK for an admin who has no aspirations to be the “children’s” equal or boss someday. But somehow it’s a servile position and men tend to get used to seeing you that way. Not sure about women. Yeah, now that I think about it, some women do that too. As soon as you are the one keeping their area neat, they forget that your IQ and education exceeds theirs.

    I really don’t mind the part about serving others. I just wish we could do it and still be respected for all of the professional value we add.

    SKL  |  June 10th, 2010 at 7:24 am

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