Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

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Me
Hi there,

New to the board, not sure how active it is on here. So, I have a frustrating issue that really pissed me off/hurt my feelings today and I want your take on it. I'm 35 years old, never married, and have no children. I sometimes struggle with loneliness and feel like I'm behind everyone else when it comes to finding love and starting a family. I'm not even sure if I want kids or not. I like the easy I currently have without the personal responsibility that children are.

I'm educated, starting my own business, going to be moving soon, and have a good head on my shoulders. However, I somehow always let the above get me down. And some comments from a manager is not helping...
I used to consider my manager like a second mom to me, but there have been events which have made me retract and retreat from the relationship. I found her to be dramatic gossip-ish, causing drama, not wanting to hear anyone's point of view unless it agrees with hers. I also get the sense that she only really liked me if I agreed with her after a while. As I began to challenge her, she'd react childishly and as if I personally wronged her.

When I first started as her assistant (1.5 years ago), she commented and asked if I thought freezing my eggs was a good idea. I don't know where the comment came from, but I brushed it off and ignored it. Found it very intrusive and not nice, but I ignored it.

She found out I am quitting (leaving in a few months when I get my masters). She commented that she knows a good replacement is out there and what she needs is the younger version of me. I found this offensive and said, "That's a weird comment." She just stated because younger people have a more affordable salary requirement. I ignored it and moved on.

Fast forward to today, , single's awareness day, I mentioned at work that I felt bad that I never gave my parents grandchildren because I know my mother wants them. i should have known my manager would hop on that comment and turn it into something hurtful. I was not even talking to her, but she interjects very loudly, "Ofcouse she wants grandchildren! What mother wouldn't!?" And keeps going on. I ignore her comment and just state I do not let that get me down because I do not want to feel like less of a person just because I have no kids.

She comes up to me an hour later and shows me a picture of her grandchild who is coming to visit. She states, "See, this is why your mother wants grandchildren, for moments like this..." And proceeeds to show me the picture of her grandchild. All I say saracastically is, "That's what you and everyone else say.." And say her grandchild is cute. I've been really annoyed by her comments tho and am really glad she won't be around to say rude stupid things. Did I mention she works in HR?

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    She's behaving inappropriately, of course. She can be happy with her kids and grandkids without trying to force her life choices on you. You're not wrong in thinking that, unless you specifically ask her, she should keep her opinions about your life to herself.

    But let's assume that she's just socially awkward, and has some boundary issues. The kindest way to look at it is this: she loves her kids and grandkids. She likes you, and wants you to be as happy as she is. And she lacks the imagination to see how anyone could be happy in a way that she hasn't personally lived through.

    About the only way to deal with a person like this is to "ooh" and "aah" over the grandchild's photos and indicate how happy you are for her. Sometimes that's enough to distract the person, because all they really want is to show off their grandkids. But if she tactlessly asks when *you'll* have kids, have a stock quip (or two) ready.

    - Got one you're looking to get rid of?

    - I'm waiting for the new Apple iKid to come out.

    - [checks watch] I'm thinking about 7:30.

    - Gee, don't you think 19 is a little young? [if that gets a protesting reaction] Not me! I mean for HIM to be a father, silly...

    - When it happens, Denzel and I will let you know.


    Use variations from the list until she gets the point.

    Certainly, as I suppose you've already figured out, this is not the person to confide in about any doubts, regrets or unresolved feelings you may have about the issue. I hope there ARE people in your life you can be open with -- she's just not one of them. Which is a shame, but it's always a good idea to know who you can be honest with, and who will start jabbing at you when you let down your guard.

    Oh, and I think the comment about finding a "younger you" was meant to be a compliment -- it just didn't quite come off as intended.

    In any event, you'll only have to put up with her for a few more months. Hope that whatever you're transitioning to is a better environment for you, and congratulations on the master's degree!



    reply to Kal
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    Hi Me!

    Welcome to advice vixens! The comments and advice you do get here are always from some really awesome and wise people such as Kal above.

    When reading your post the first time my intial thought was also to stop sharing anything personal with her (or in an ear shot) As Of Now.

    I am 29 and often catch myself with similar thoughts and feelings about family and kids, being where I want to be in life etc etc etc. I try to silence those thoughts as much as possible because they are just not helpful, and everyone, truly, is on their own path and life journey.

    However the right time for all of that is WHENEVER you want that, if you decide in fact that you do want children. In today's day and age people are waiting longer for those things. So in NO way shape or form are you behind. I know it's very easy to think that, but you are not. 35 is still young and that's even more amazing that you are going on to get a masters degree!

    Your boss defintiely subscribes to the same outdated culture that mine does which is that women need/ should have kids, center their life and thier lives decisions around when that day comes, and give their mothers grandchilren. Yawn. I'm all for women doing exactly what they want, when they want it. That being said, I feel that pressure too, and it's very natural to be feeling how you're feelings.

    A few of my friends met their partners in grad school, or right after grad school because you're more likely to meet people with a lot of similarities. Similar careers, similar location, similar place in life.

    And I honestly could have written your post especially about your boss. I have an almost identical situation with a boss/ second mother/ friend who I've known for years. She is pushy, loud, has no boundaries. I didn't 'like' her at first, but after yearssssss of working with her, we naturally are on good terms now. HOWEVER, I am very very careful not to talk about anything too personal around her anymore. I definitely made that mistake early on. She backed off once she sensed I was drawing those really firm boundaries. She didn't like it at first, but now she focuses on other new young employees and thier personal lives.

    And as Kal mentioned, you're almost out of there anyways. Congratualtions on moving on to big and better things. My guess is A LOT will happen for you during this next phase of your life! Keep up posted!




    reply to Barbara
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    She is really unprofessional and rude... and mean, for lack of a better term. Don't let it get to you. I've found that people who say things like this are JEALOUS of your freedom and the fact that you made good choices and decisions in your life. Maybe she picked the wrong guy. And YOU didn't. Misery loves company and you're not it. Be glad you are leaving and congrats on your Master's!! -which took a lot more work than making a kid with the wrong person and suffering the consequences (there's a lot of that going around). Be proud.

    reply to Diana
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    Kal wrote: She's behaving inappropriately, of course. She can be happy with her kids and grandkids without trying to force her life choices on you. You're not wrong in thinking that, unless you specifically ask her, she should keep her opinions about your life to herself. But let's assume that she's just socially awkward, and has some boundary issues. The kindest way to look at it is this: she loves her kids and grandkids. She likes you, and wants you to be as happy as she is. And she lacks the imagination to see how anyone could be happy in a way that she hasn't personally lived through. About the only way to deal with a person like this is to "ooh" and "aah" over the grandchild's photos and indicate how happy you are for her. Sometimes that's enough to distract the person, because all they really want is to show off their grandkids. But if she tactlessly asks when *you'll* have kids, have a stock quip (or two) ready. - Got one you're looking to get rid of? - I'm waiting for the new Apple iKid to come out. - [checks watch] I'm thinking about 7:30. - Gee, don't you think 19 is a little young? [if that gets a protesting reaction] Not me! I mean for HIM to be a father, silly... - When it happens, Denzel and I will let you know. Use variations from the list until she gets the point. Certainly, as I suppose you've already figured out, this is not the person to confide in about any doubts, regrets or unresolved feelings you may have about the issue. I hope there ARE people in your life you can be open with -- she's just not one of them. Which is a shame, but it's always a good idea to know who you can be honest with, and who will start jabbing at you when you let down your guard. Oh, and I think the comment about finding a "younger you" was meant to be a compliment -- it just didn't quite come off as intended. In any event, you'll only have to put up with her for a few more months. Hope that whatever you're transitioning to is a better environment for you, and congratulations on the master's degree!

    Great answer, Kal!

    reply to E. Jean
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