Friday, October 05, 2012

My Friday F-off

I belong to a particular women's group (well, I belong to a couple, but I'm talking about one group in particular). They are service oriented organizations.

I like most of the women in this group. And what we do (raising money for local scholarships - we do service projects) is important to me.

But, oh heavens, one or two of the people in that group.

There are different forms of privilege, you know? I openly recognize and own that I came from a background that was privileged in many ways: my family had enough money that the necessities and some of the desires were covered (but not so much that my brother and I got everything we wanted; I think that's also bad for a kid). And more importantly, we came from loving parents that taught us responsibility and common sense and who valued hard work and education.

And I recognize that, and I'm grateful for it.

But. There are a couple people in the group I'm talking about who have had lives where they've never had to work outside the home (and they had cleaning ladies, and in one case, a nanny, for the children, so I'm not convinced they worked nearly as hard as the average stay at home mom did). They have always had someone else to be the breadwinner.

And they SO DO NOT GET what it means to be a single woman supporting herself. They SO DO NOT GET what it means to work full time (and then some) at a career. They don't understand the fact that I bring work home with me at night, that I work weekends, that I sometimes work on the few "days off" we get (No, we don't get every freaking Federal Holiday like the post office does - in the fall we get Labor Day, in the spring semester we get MLK day, and in the summer, we get Independence Day - but other than that, Thanksgiving and Christmas are pretty much it. And even now, now when they do assessment activities on the student, we are made to do "professional development" - sit in a room and be talked at by some "expert.")

So these women don't SEE the 18 different things I'm juggling. They don't see that I am juggling the metaphorical equivalent of three flaming chain saws, a couple axes, and a bunch of tennis balls.

They only see the metaphorical tennis ball I happen to drop.

I forgot one piece of (relatively minor) information I was planning on bringing to the latest meeting. I finally blew up at one of the women when I got tired of sitting there and listening to her sotto voce snarking about it. And I told her: Look, I have been juggling a lot of things. I am teaching four grading-intensive classes this fall. I have work at church and other places. Yes, I was "stupid" to forget that paper and if it bugs you so much, give me fifteen minutes and I will drive back to my office and get it.

She demurred: no, no, we don't want you to have to do that.

Then wench? SHUT THE HECK UP. (No, I did not say that).

I get so tired of the undercurrent of criticism that some people just have going on towards other people. We're doing our damned best, most of us, and it doesn't help.

And yes, I know: some people are just like that and you have to just "deal" with it.

But you know? I'm EFFING TIRED of dealing with it. This Atlas is getting ready to shrug. If I quit all my volunteer responsibilities tomorrow, there'd be a huge hole in a couple of local groups. And it pisses me off that people don't seem to notice that - all they can notice is the stuff that goes less than perfectly.

Oh, and the critics? How much duty do they do? A little, but it's not the same as some other women in the group. And incidentally, the people carrying the heaviest loads? Have never aimed criticism at me for doing 999 out of 1000 things, but not getting that thousandth thing finished.

I mean, I get it: To each person, the particular thing that impinges on them is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I DO. Even if it really isn't, compared to, oh, I don't know, teaching my students stuff they need to know to get into med school. Or getting my grading done so my students have feedback on their work in a reasonable time frame. Or being one of the very few Youth Group leaders at church.

And here's the thing: if they think I'm doing it so badly, they can take the task away from me. It's not like it's something (like teaching statistics is) that takes a specialized skill-set.

But of course, no one ever suggests that, because it's much more fun to watch the overwhelmed person flounder a bit and then criticize them for not being 100% perfect.

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