My husband just had his year-end review at work. This is a scenario that is entirely foreign to me — in most of the jobs I’ve had, professional or otherwise, formal sit-downs with supervisors to discuss job performance, expectations and compensation were rare. These were concepts that were more likely to be communicated through passive-aggressive Post-It notes, or (during my time as a waitress) in the form of tableware thrown at my head.
I thought I had left all that behind me when I went to work for myself as a freelance writer, but then I had a child, and now my boss is a tiny tyrant who follows me to the bathroom explaining all my faults at a full yell in a language of exclamations and grunts that neither of us truly understands.
If Stay-at-Home Moms Got a Performance Review
If motherhood were, like my husband’s office, a more civilized place, I’m sure my toddler would have some end-of-the-year notes for me. We would probably meet in her favorite place of the office: the corner of our pantry where we keep the bug spray, PBR and other fun, potentially lethal stuff. She would be wearing her most business-like attire: the $2 shift dress I bought off some other mom on Facebook. It makes her look like a small, more opinionated version of Jacqueline Kennedy. She would sit on the 12-pack of PBR like the tiny queen she is and look me up and down with the imperious weariness of a thousand Anna Wintours.
“Why don’t we begin by talking about what you see as some of your strengths?” she begins primly.
“I feed you whenever you scream,” I say.
“That’s debatable,” she replies with a shrug. “I often ask to be fed during church and you blatantly ignore me.”
“I can’t exactly breastfeed during the Gospel reading….”
She cuts me off with a wave of her hand. “There’s also been some concern expressed by the Vice President of Community Engagement about your selections for afternoon story time.”
“Wait, are you referring to Creepy Side-Eye Doll? She hates me and she’s a liar, I’ve told you this…. ”
“She has filed several complaints about your repeated attempts to stuff her in the darkest and most remote corners of the office, but I can’t actually comment on an ongoing HR investigation, so let’s switch gears here.” She produces eyeglasses stolen from Molly the American Girl Doll, puts them on and squints at a notepad upon which she has scribbled with the pens she steals from me. “Now. At your last year-end review, we discussed goals for 2016. We decided you would work on communicating professionalism through personal appearance. How are we doing on that.”
“Was that a question?”
“If you like.”
“Well, I almost always wear makeup when we’re leaving the house, so…”
“Your co-workers report you’re still using the same pair of contacts that you were last Christmas.” She removes the glasses and fixes me with a challenging gaze. “Some have complained that it’s unhygienic.”
“If you’re talking about Creepy Side-Eye Doll, she can shove her opinions about hygiene straight up…. “
“That’s enough.” She sighs. “Where are we on fiscal 2017? You and your subordinates are always referring to a revenue problem but when it’s time to pay the Hulu bill nobody seems to have trouble producing the cash.”
“My subordinates? Are you referring to your father?”
“He definitely takes his orders from you.”
“You watch Hulu, too. They’re the only ones who carry Curious George.”
“Let’s not be disingenuous. They also carry a robust menu of Investigation Discovery programming, and I suspect that’s the real reason for our ongoing professional relationship with them. Let’s get into that – frankly, the shareholders are concerned that it’s not appropriate for you to watch ‘Nightmare Next Door’ with a toddler.”
“Listen. I know. It’s just that I get stressed sometimes when your dad works late and I need to unwind….”
“We’re running out of time here. I can summarize the rest of the board’s concerns in a memo.” Here she would sigh, scribble something, and produce a piece of paper. “This is an itemized list detailing your salary, expenditures, reimbursables and merit bonus. All totaling zero dollars.”
“I thought we discussed a raise last year.”
“If wishing made it so.” She stands up. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go rescue the Vice President of Community Engagement from beneath my crib. Yes, I saw you shove her beneath the pile of outgrown clothes.”