Thursday, October 29, 2009

Being a mom doesn't mean not having feelings

Long ago I had a job at a grocery store located in a bad part of town. I quit the job when I got married. Then, a couple of years later I returned to work at the same store, this time as a cake decorator. What I didn't know when I was hired was that the store was experiencing a big problem with employee theft. I found that out when the company's loss prevention department started an investigation and I was named as one of the people stealing.

When I was "questioned" regarding my involvement I was told that I had been named by one of the stock boys as someone who was stealing from the store. Why? I was never able to figure that out. The people stealing were largely high school aged cashiers and stock boys most of whom I never had any contact with at all. When I was asked about certain people's involvement in the "theft ring" I had told them that honestly I had no idea who the people they were asking about even were. The person questioning me seemed to think I was trying to cover for people and got angrier and angrier with me.

I was sent home from work that day and told I would be called in a few days about my "employment status". All the "evidence" they had been able to gather against me basically amounted to one time I had to take a pill with food and someone from the deli gave me a corn dog that was going to be thrown out because it was old.

Three days later I got a call saying I was fired. (On the exact same day we were going to court to finalize Joseph's adoption. So yeah, that was awesome.) I was humiliated and hurt. I had never been fired from a job before and to be fired for the reason I was, was extra painful.

Several of my former co-workers encouraged me to fight my firing and for a while I considered it. Jesse and I even spoke to an attorney who advised us that there was nothing he could do for me since I had been prosecuted for stealing. When I told him I had never actually been prosecuted he was pretty surprised. As it turns out the company I worked for ALWAYS prosecutes shoplifters. Always. Without exception.

So why wasn't I prosecuted? I really think it was because I wasn't fired for stealing. I was fired because the loss prevention person questioning was angry that I didn't help out his investigation. It didn't matter that I didn't actually know anything. He thought I did and he thought I was hiding something and that made him mad. And that was all it took. Minnesota's wonky laws allow a company to fire an employee for any reason at any time so in the end, even though I was fired without cause, I still didn't have a leg to stand on legally.

The whole event was pretty hurtful but you, know, life goes on. I got past it. Jesse now works for the same company that I was fired from. I've been to several office Christmas parties with the same people who "investigated" me. I've been to the head office several times to bring something to Jesse or to pick him up and take him to lunch. I have been in the vacation condo of the company's owner. I've even been on his boat. Joseph sat on his lap and helped him steer the boat! Company higher ups call our house all the time to ask Jesse for help with computer problems and I can have a friendly chat with them. I was even actually rehired by the company at one point. (Once the loss prevention person got wind of it he quickly had me refired with some lame excuse about paperwork not being done right but WHATEVER!)

The point is, I'm over it. I don't really think about it these days.

Most of the time.

The other day my mom took the kids over to my grandma's apartment. Several of my aunts and uncles were there visiting. Somehow the company that I used to work for came up in conversation. Joseph decided to cheerfully offer up this little fact: "My mommy used to work there but then she was fired for stealing!" Neither he (or my mom for that matter) decided to actually tell the entire story so everyone in the room got to hear the very worst part of the story and that's it.

When my mom called to tell me this a couple of days later I was pissed. I got off the phone with her and said to Joseph "I don't like you telling people that I was fired for stealing." He got a horrified look on his face and said "Oh no! Did T--- call you and tell you I told him that?"

By the way, T--- is his IEP case manager. Meaning not only has Joseph been telling family members this little story, he's also been telling people at school. And god only knows who else.

And you know what? It really, really upsets me. 99% of what Joseph (or even Elle for that matter) does I can laugh at as a parent. Even if they're little stinkers I can find humor in it. Not to say that I never get upset or angry at my kids but most of the time, by the end of the day I've managed to find a way to smile about what ever they've done.

Not this time though. People have told me that I shouldn't be upset about this because Joseph can't help what he says. I know it's true. I know that because of Aspergers he's missing that internal filter that says "Stop! This is not ok to say!" I don't think he said that stuff to be hurtful. The fact is though, he said it and it is hurtful.

Being a parent is hard and being a parent of a child with special needs is ... special hard. It means countless doctor and therapy appointments. It means juggling the imprecise science of finding the right mix of medications. It means managing, re-teaching and yes, even tolerating atypical behaviors. It means putting your own needs aside and focusing on what your child needs. Most of the time I think I do a pretty good job at that stuff. But dammit. Sometimes it's hard.

He may have Aspergers but I still have feelings.

One year ago today my brother and I debated politics.
Two years ago today I had Halloween overload.
Three years ago today I was ... drunk or something.


shyestviolet said...

man, you have fortitude I can only hope to acquire someday.

cathy said...

I told a grade school teacher that my father was a bookie (he brought home books from work). Hopefully people take children's pronouncements with a grain of salt.

Headless Mom said...

Ouch. Yep, you're allowed to hurt sometimes. You're not superwoman. One of my kids has said some pretty hurtful things to me and we don't even have 'issues'.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but I linked to the Ultimate Faux Pas of Friendship story over at, (where I put you up before, a year ago summer.) I know I generally don't comment, but I still love this blog.

Stimey said...

Oh, I'm sorry. That sucks. It's hard when somehow only part of a story gets out and it is misleading and makes you look bad. I have much sympathy.

Funny story: I almost put that some long-ago relative of mine left his country to avoid the draft in a school report. I might have even used the phrase "draft dodger" until my mom caught me practicing my oral report and she was all, "Yeah, we don't put things like that in our school projects."

Swistle said...

Oh, what a rotten situation for you!

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