Twelve years ago I was hired by Judy to work for Maude, and I worked with Pauline and Agnes (not their real names). Maude left 7 years ago to work for another company and I took her spot as the responsible person to manage a complicated, frenzied part of a unit. Every year since that time, the lot of us would get together for lunch so that we could catch up, stay in touch since we genuinely liked each other. Some how Agnes dropped off the invites, I’m not exactly sure how that happened but sometime last year it was 4 instead of 5. The lunches became less frequent too. We used to get together 3 or 4 times a year and exchange holiday gifts, now it’s come down to just once.
Today was that day. I was prompted by an email from a recruiter looking to fill an RN position, I thought of Maude and forwarded the information to her. We exchanged a few emails, threw out some dates and settled on this afternoon at a lovely Bay side restaurant for lunch. It might be my last. I still adore all these women, Maude was difficult, demanding and drove me crazy but she was also a great mentor who gave me opportunities and at her core is loving and generous. Judy has been a mainstay person for me, I have learned so very much from her over the years. It took her a long time to let any of us in, but once she did we were able to see her warmth, her intelligence and I’m grateful to have worked for her for so long. Both of these women took me for who I am, demanding, opinionated, outspoken and sometimes harsh. They saw what I could be, saw who I was underneath all of my social errors and gave me what I needed to be successful. Pauline is the mom of the group, she has smiles, hugs and is always the first person to want to make others feel good. She trained me, and put up with me first as a co-worker and now a boss. They are good women, all of them with hearts big enough to overlook all the times I used the wrong tone, wrote a harsh email, furrowed my brow or made mistake after mistake.
I realized today that just as I do in many other situations with friends, I have nothing to contribute to the conversation. The talk was around children, grandchildren and the families’ Holiday events. I smiled appropriately, laughed at the stories shared, and politely pushed my fork around my plate to gather food into my mouth. Pictures were shared, milestones and happy news about new babies, college bound seniors and I stayed quiet. I looked around the table at this remarkable gathering of women and realized yet again, that I was not quite in my element. Each of them has short, stylish hair with tiny bits of gray, along with conservative, flattering and comfortable clothing fitting for women in their 50′s and 60′s. Not matronly, but here I am with my long, dark hair (I pluck out what grays I can’t dye), pierced eyebrow, blue jeans and my most exciting holiday news was the back piece that I got tattooed on me in Dallas.
I don’t have any idea what it is to be a parent. It is the one thing I think perhaps that I wanted the very most and yet, the Powers that Be decided otherwise. No children means no grandchildren, and it means I can listen, and even sometimes comment on discussions but as I’ve often been told by well meaning friends, “Until you have your own, you can’t truly understand.” I’m left out of that entire conversation and at this point in my life, its one that happens in 95% of discussions. I’m still looking for where I belong. I still feel like a pebble in the bottom of the shoe of life. Every time I come to the realization that I’m that square peg trying to fit into a round hole, it makes me very sad. I walked away from lunch today knowing that I would make excuses for the next time, and that the lunch of 4 would turn into 3. It doesn’t change the respect and love I have for these women, but when I no longer have anything to add to the conversation I need to bow out gracefully.
Posted on January 17, 2013, in Dark Muffin Musings and tagged children, conversation, coworkers, email, friendship, grandchildren, holiday, job search, kincaid's, lunch, mentor, photos, pregnant, recruiter, stories, workplace. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.