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An “office Mom’s” maternal gift brings compassion, nurture, mentoring, and dignity to the workplace

In my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious,  one area of focus is the maternal gift that women bring to the world  based on their feminine nature. This maternal nature is part of God’s design of womanhood, as Blessed John Paul II taught, in that the human person is entrusted to women in a special way because of this gift of maternity.

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way. Of course, God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way – precisely by reason of their femininity – and this in a particular way determines their vocation…

A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting… (John Paul II, Mulieris Dignatatem, 30)

Often, women help to humanize the situations they are in; they are all about “relationships”and how well people mesh together. This is one of the strengths of women, and when exercised in friendly and respectful ways, women become a life-giving resource in our society, especially in the workplace. In this recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, we see this demonstrated, as writer Katherine Rosman asks the question: “Who’s Your Office Mom?”

The office mom is shorthand for a figure in many offices: the colleague who remembers everyone’s birthdays and brings in cupcakes. She has Advil and tissues in her desk drawer. She knows your significant other is all wrong for you—and will say so.

She is often an office manager but can be a senior executive, too. Just as people talk about their “office spouse,” a colleague they spend time with and confide in, the office mom is asserting herself as the matriarch of the office family. This is especially true for more companies as they ditch private offices in favor of open-space desks where senior staff members sit among the junior and every personal phone call is overheard.

The office mom is almost always a woman and often slightly older than other colleagues. She might actually be a mother, but not necessarily. A relationship with her is complex like all family relationships tend to be: A younger employee might want to please her professionally, even as she grits her teeth listening to her personal advice.

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 1.41.43 PMHow an office mom might operate? I think it is as individual as a woman herself. Someone might offer to celebrate birthdays and such, but then, another might change the office culture just by being thoughtful, as in this case where a woman serves her co-workers when she sees needs and intentionally  sets out to fill them:

In an economy where companies can grow quickly without the infrastructure of human resources, an office mom is about more than birthday cakes. Pamela Mendoza is the executive assistant and office manager at Udemy, a Silicon Valley online education company. At 38, she is one of the oldest in the office. When new people move to town to join the company, she offers advice on finding apartments and restaurants. She shares her feelings about the importance of a work-life balance. Recently, she ordered a dining room table for the center of the office to encourage people to step away from their computers for long enough to eat lunch. “It’s not the job, it’s my personality,” Ms. Mendoza says.

For Eliza Davidson, a 23-year-old recent college graduate, Ms. Mendoza’s support has been a comfort. Ms. Davidson says: “Pamela has been a great guide for the more quote-unquote ‘adult things’ I need to care about, like health care and taxes.”

Some office moms say they take on the role without thinking—they are moms at home and don’t know how to switch it off. Others become office moms because nurturing younger colleagues gives them an outlet for maternal energy.

The rest of the WSJ article is here.

The mission of women in the world at large is to nurture and care for it… that includes the people in her sphere of influence.

For more on this subject of women and work, especially, faith-filled women at work, you might be interested in this recent Among Women podcast with Mary Wallace, author of the blog The Working Catholic Mom. 

Comments

  1. Yeap. I’m the oldest in the restaurant (baker) and my only criticism by the owner is that the other staff are continually stopping by my station and talking with me, asking advise, etc. They’ve given me the esteemed title of “mother nature”. I enjoy this role and do take it seriously, praying for each person and asking God to guide conversations.

    • Barbara, you sound like the kind of woman I’d like to stop by and chat with. Keep up the good work! You’ll never know the ripple effect of those prayers you lift on behalf of your co-workers.