When I didn’t smile at his joke, he chided me for being so serious. I actually found the whole thing demeaning and degrading rather than humorous and thought to myself, one more “joke” on the subject and I’m out of there until I wean. Then today when I approached him to let him know I’d be on my break (the conference room was unavailable so I had no choice but to tell him I’d be occupying the restroom), he asked for how long. When I answered “close to 30 minutes,” he turned to a male clerk nearby and said, “Now that’s what I call milking the system.”
My question to you, Rachel: Am I being too sensitive? I’ve been told I’m overreacting and that this is just the boss’s way of alleviating some of the strain of a stressful environment. Maybe so, but I see myself being used as his punching bag and frankly don’t like it.
Your take please…
You talk of your employer’s job as demanding, yet it is clearly you who is being challenged to the hilt. You are balancing motherhood and a career (never easy) and are, to boot, front and center in your role at the office.
You don’t mention how long it’s been since you returned to work following the birth of your baby, but you might still be in the throes of postpartum anxiety. Hormones, including those associated with breastfeeding, run helter-skelter in new mothers. Add to that the uneasiness you experience over your 30-minute breaks and it’s no wonder you don’t find the humor in your employer’s tactless comments.
As you’ve held this position for many years now, one must assume it’s been worth your while – in which case you are realistically not ready to give it up. Furthermore, your boss treats you as his confidante (talking things over with you at the end of the day), evidently holding you in high regard.
Presuming his day is as harried as you indicate, his quips may indeed be his way of unwinding and/or his attempt to make nice, in his awareness of having given you flack by day. This downtime is ideal for letting him know that you don’t get paid enough to be harassed for no good reason and that for each time he persists on picking on you from now on, you will simply treat yourself to a day off. Then do exactly that until he gets the message.