Dear Amy: I’m a woman working in a very woman-dominated profession, as a registered nurse.
I enjoy nursing and working with my patients. I work mostly with other women — some of whom are support staff.
Some of these women are immature (to say the least). Their ages range from 30 to late 40s. I am older.
I generally focus on my job and have been successful at ignoring their rude and sometimes judgmental comments.
The other day I heard them commenting about my appearance; they referred to me as “the lunch lady.”
I was extremely hurt and humiliated. I haven’t mentioned this to anyone else at work. I am now feeling resentful, especially toward these two particular women.
How can I just let go of this and not act bitterly toward them?
I just started back in therapy. Normally, I really don’t care about the unwelcome comments. Nor do I care what my co-workers think of me on a personal level, but this recent comment hurt me deeply.
I am already sensitive about my age.
– Upset and Embarrassed
Dear Upset: First, a word about “lunch ladies.” Using this phrase as a mocking insult demeans other working women, who are (also) deserving of respect.
I hope you will address this issue with your therapist, your supervisor at work, and these immature middle-age “mean girls,” who definitely need a course correction.
You interpret their remark as discriminatory, age-related bullying (I do, too).
So, on behalf of hard-working and “seasoned” professional women everywhere, I hope you will find appropriate ways to respond, both in the moment and also on up the professional chain at work.
They should be called out.
You say that YOU are “upset and embarrassed,” where a more useful emotional response might be: “I am mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
A response you might rehearse that will telegraph your own ire, but reflect your own professionalism is: “Ladies, no. I suggest you get back to providing care for our patients.” And then document the episode and report it to your/their supervisor.
They might deride this as a very “lunch lady” way to behave, to which you should think to yourself: “Yes! And you’ve been served.”
Dear Amy: Whenever my husband unloads the dishwasher, he puts about half of the things away in their proper places in cabinets or drawers, but the other half gets piled on the counter, right next to the dirty pots and plates.
It’s so frustrating!
I’m not sure how to bring this up. I feel like maybe I should be grateful he contributes to housework (something my father NEVER did), but I find it frustrating and confusing when the clean stuff and the dirty stuff are just piled there together.
Our countertops are basically never clear, even after everything has been washed — unless I sort through the remainders myself.
He definitely contributes to housework on a regular basis, so I’m not sure if I should just let this slide?
If I mention it, is that petty nagging? I just feel like if a job is worth doing, it should be done completely.
– Half-grateful, Half-frustrated
Dear Half: Your husband is NOT doing you a personal favor by putting a few dishes away. Functioning adults are supposed to do their share of household chores.
If you only ever mowed half the lawn (for instance), would your husband worry about expressing his frustration, for fear of being a “petty nag”?
No, he would say, “Honey, you’re not done. When you leave it like this, I just have to come along and finish it. What’s up with that?”
Your own father trained you to feel grateful for every scrap of household effort (mine, too), but when you clean up after your husband cleans up, you are infantilizing him in his own house. Treat him like a grown-up and talk about it.
Dear Amy: “Bewildered” reported that DNA testing revealed half-siblings.
I uncovered a half sibling from DNA testing, too. She happened to be from my father’s first and most devastating affair (he left my mother with little kids, coming back to the family months later).
One of my siblings thought our mother should be told, and it plunged her into a deep depression.
While I was happy to give my half-sister what she longed for, I regret not being able to control who was told.
Dear Regretful: This is a life-changing disclosure, and it should be treated as such – extremely carefully.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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