It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Pregnant and Worried About Work” who was worried about how her boss would react to her pregnancy news since he was so unsupportive when she had a earlier miscarriage, yelling at her for missing a day of work and balking at the idea of a 6-month maternity leave eventually. “I’m now terrified of telling my boss and colleagues [that I’m pregnant again]. I’m still ambitious and don’t want to feel guilty about wanting a baby. I feel like that colleague and my boss will hate me for this, and I hate the fact that I care about that.” Keep reading to see how things have worked out for her with her at work.
Secondly, thank you for your advice, I read it about ten times and really let it sink in. The commenters’ responses were also super helpful. As a whole, my mood gradually shifted from sad and anxious to, well, angry. It was the wake-up call I needed.
To clarify some things: I live in a European country, where maternity leave itself can be up to 15 weeks with a minimum of 9 weeks. After that, you can also take motherhood leave and breast feeding leave (I don’t know what that’s called in English?) for a couple of months. Most women I know combine all sorts of leaves to a total of 6 months. That’s why I blurted out those 6 months, but I hadn’t really decided yet to do that. To me, it wasn’t about how much time I could take (yet), but more about the way my boss would handle it, with the gossiping and the intimidation.
By the way, a colleague who started the same week as I did came down with a serious injury after a couple of weeks. He had to take 5 (!) months off and nobody accused him of ANYTHING.
And the big reason I wanted to keep working there was the fact that my boss had told me he could help further my career (writing) because of his connections. Also, the company has 7 employees. I guess that’s more than “a couple,” so I apologize for the confusion.
And now for my update, which I’m sure will sound like some sort of soap opera.
About a week after I wrote in, I had an evaluation meeting with my boss and the assistant-manager. It started out normally but quickly escalated as my boss began insulting my work again (as he always does during evaluations). I got angry, we yelled at each other, and, at the end of the meeting, he offered me a steady contract with a minimum raise (still way underpaying). I had been working there with two six-month contracts, which is a bit shabby in itself. I asked why on earth they would continue to hire me if they were so unhappy. To put me down all the time? The boss said “Maybe you’ll get better, worth a shot!” – ridiculous. I accepted, but was pretty confused and shaken up by the whole thing.
In the following days, I talked to my husband and ultimately realized what kind of hot mess I was getting into, so I decided not to sign that contract (which was to start in two weeks). I wanted to tell them as soon as possible, so I had a talk with the assistant-manager since my boss was unexpectedly out that day. The assistant was – as always – gentle, calm and understanding. I also told him I would have a “change” in my family (I of course didn’t want to share the pregnancy news).
The day after, my boss was at the office and didn’t act out of the ordinary. So I went to the assistant and asked him if he had told my boss, and he in fact had, that same morning. My boss apparently had reacted in a calm and understanding way as well. The assistant also told me my boss knew what the “change” in my family was, which I found rather perplexing since I had only told my mom, my best friend, and a friendly ex-colleague (I’ll get to that later).
Again, the day after, the boss and the assistant called me up for a meeting. I got yelled at immediately for telling a few colleagues (which the assistant had assured me was ok), for “breaking my promises”, “playing games”, “lying”, “deserting my colleagues”, etc. So much for calm and understanding. The boss also berated me for not telling him myself, but I said that the assistant had already told him yesterday morning. He backtracked. Then I said that it’s not normal to fight as much as he did with his personnel, which had ultimately caused me to have a change of heart. He then said that we never fought about anything. My brain hurt. I reminded him of a couple fights and especially the one about the miscarriage. He said that that was no fight but was rather a reminder of my responsibilities. I lost it.
I started yelling at him about the constant lies he told that I knew about (I was his personal assistant), about the constant berating of employees, the underpaying, the overworking, the manipulating, and the gossiping, and I said that I was tired of it all and could see who he really was now. And that he has so many people hating him for a good reason (he has the worst reputation). He walked away and had me kicked out of the building by the assistant. I didn’t cry, but the assistant was tearing up, and so were my colleagues, who couldn’t really do anything. The boss was walking around, cheerfully whistling.
So I got my stuff and drove away.
A couple of hours later a close colleague, “Tom,” called. He had just had a talk with the boss. It all came together. The boss had told Tom that I had said that Tom talked trash behind my boss’ back all the time. He had told Tom that he knew I was pregnant because a certain woman had told him – “a woman who wanted to stab (me) in the back” no less. That could only vaguely point to my ex-colleague, who also hates the boss, who never even sees the boss and whom I told via Facebook chat. On my work computer… Yeah. And the boss had then told three of my colleagues about my early pregnancy. God, it still makes me so, so angry.
Quitting that job was the best decision I ever made. I took matters into my own hands and am thankful for my own guts. On Monday I am starting a new, high-paying temp job until the delivery date, and after that I will take a couple months of maternity leave. I will write, I will bond with my kid and husband, and I will enjoy a life without psychopaths in it.
Thanks again, you and the community.
Wow. Good for you! Now is not the time for drama and psychopaths. You have the right idea — take it easy, enjoy your pregnancy (especially now that you’re past the shaky first trimester), and then take some time to adjust to new motherhood and bond with your new baby. What an exciting time! Big congrats to you, again, and best of luck for the rest of your pregnancy.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.