2017-11-10 / Commentary

Working with Mom

40–Something

My mom is one of my employees, and sometimes that makes for a challenging workplace environment especially when I’m giving orders or trying to schedule a meeting on one of her “busy” days.

“Well,” she says, “I have a massage at 10, lunch with (insert friend/family member here) at 12, a manicure at 3, and then I have to be home by 5 to watch Dr. Phil. See...a very busy day.”

If only we could all be so “busy.” Not to say she hasn’t earned such a tremendous workload. Lord knows she raised me pretty much by herself.

Before venturing into the family newspaper business, she got up every morning at 5 a.m. to teach hormonal middle schoolers all day, and then she found time to take me to various practices and sporting events. The fact she got up at 5 a.m. all those years is reason enough to earn a massage and some Dr. Phil but throw in all the other stuff, and I’m not really sure why she comes to work at all.

But that’s who she is. She has always worked and always will, but some days she might not work as hard as others.

That’s fine. I’ve learned to put off important editorial meetings and financial discussions, so her nails can get the attention they so deserve.

Still, my mom is an irreplaceable part of the staff here at The Star, and we couldn’t produce a paper every week without her. She still works full time... ish.. and has handed off ownership duties mostly accepting the idea I am her boss, but sometimes that doesn’t make it any easier for her to take orders.

It’s not that she’s a belligerent or disrespectful employee. Actually, it’s much worse because, no matter how “in charge” I am, I’m still her son.

So when my tone is—shall we say—a bit questionable when giving instructions, directives, and/or suggestions, this is what I get from her:

“Wow,” she says, “somebody needs a nap. Why don’t you lay down here on the couch for an hour or so and talk to me after you’ve had some rest.”

Or...

“Is everything OK?” she asks. “You don’t seem like yourself. Do you need to talk?”

Or...

“Here,” she says reaching into her pocketbook,

“here’s a few dollars; go get yourself a Snickers. You sound like you need a little something in your tummy.”

No other employee would offer up a couch, a sympathetic ear, or a candy bar to get rid of me.

The worst part is that she’s usually spot on with her diagnoses. Moms have that ability, but that doesn’t make me any less frustrated.

At the office, I am her boss. When I give an order, I expect it be followed. She has a slightly different perspective.

“You’re so cute when you act like a boss!”

“Moooom! I’m not acting. I am the boss!” “Sure, Honey. Whatever you say.”

When she does eventually notice the steam coming from my ears, she’ll say something like this: “Yes, Dear, if it will make you feel better, I’ll do it.” Then she’ll pat me on the head, send me on my way, and do whatever she wants to do.

Working with my mom is not an ideal situation, but it is truly a blessing. I know I’m in charge, and I’m grateful she lets me keep believing that. I’m also grateful for the occasional Snickers.

My mom turns 74 this Saturday, so I’ve got one directive I know she’ll follow: Have a happy birthday, Mom! Go out and get yourself a massage and tell Dr. Phil I said hello!”

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