Earlier this week I attended a retirement reception for a colleague. I don't know the woman well, but the reception was right across the hall from my office, there was food, and I forgot to pack my lunch. It was a good time chatting with people that I don't see that often.
It was all fine and good until she started giving her speech. She's retiring because her daughter is expecting her first grandchild and she wants to spend time with the baby. Groan. Ok. Whatever. Good for her. I wish her the best, I honestly do. I thought I was a few years out from dealing with granzillas, so the irony is not lost on me. But hey, at least she's retiring, so I won't have to be around the baby talk.
But the retirement reception just provided the setting for the part I want to write about. I want to write about is what happened as people were mingling. I found out that a colleague is leaving in May. I knew that, while she loved her job, she also longed to be closer to family, and apparently she's found a position that will allow her to do something she's excited about and be closer to family. She and her husband also have two kids under three, and I know that was part of the reason for the move too. While I will miss her, I understand wanting to move closer to your support system.
But that brings me to a conversation with a different colleague who felt the need to tell me (twice) that raising young children is a really difficult phase of life. I know it wasn't meant to be condescending, but it was. I don't have kids, that's no secret, but I am a reasonably intelligent person who can look at a situation and understand the difficulty in it. Not on a personal experience level, but still. I've never climbed Mt. Everest either, and I'm quite confident that it's pretty darn difficult too. I'm not going to lie, it hurt a little bit. It sort of felt like I was in that all to familiar position of "less than."
The person who said it gets a bit of a pass. She's normally quite sensitive and someone who I can count on to be an ally. But it still hurt, and it's ok for me to acknowledge that. Next time I hope I'm not caught off guard and can come up with a witty response.
It gets less hard as time passes, but there will always be curveballs.