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DH says I am a minion to this woman

(161 Posts)
Salvatoreseraphino Sat 21-Oct-17 20:46:41

I'm 35, currently a SAHM with 4 DC (all under 6.)

Before I had DC I used to work for a charity run by a very strong, successful woman who I admire very much. She is nearly 70, unmarried, with grown up children of her own.

I got to know her (will call her A) quite well but not as a close friend, just from work. She also took me on from university and I was there my whole working life.

Since having DC and having to stop work I have kept in contact with her and still go to work-related events and deal with work-related issues when I have the time. The charity and the people in it still constitute the main part of my social life, and free time (away from the DC and DH,) as I don't see it as just a job that I should let go of. The charity world is not like that.

Sometimes when they need me I do end up going back into work mode and resuming my job sometimes. And on some level I want it, but like to be able to dip in and out and take on my old role when I have time and leave it when I don't. Obviously I don't get paid for this, or for the hours I put in to help, as I don't officially work there anymore.

Unlike other sectors there is always a great need to do more, even if the basics are met, so even though I have been officially replaced in my job by someone else , there is still stuff that needs to be done.

For me working for the charity, even on a voluntary basis is important for those it benefits, and it has loads of perks, it's incredibly interesting, means I get to meet lots of interesting people too. And I know it so well - I worked there since university, so 15 years. Also because A runs it, she is very successful and inspiring and I have had lots of opportunities through the charity that I have not been able to have in other parts of life, especially as a mother of 4 where my daily life is quite monotonous.

A also asks me to give advice to her friends regarding my specialist area ( law), so I do give a lot of advice for free, or find myself spending a whole afternoon with a different charity run by another friend of A's giving them free advice - which I don't mind and it allows me to flex my intellect as the children grow up.

DH says that A condescends me, takes advantage of my willingness to help, and says that i am deferent and compliant around her. He says that in return she now gets the role I was previously doing, for free, for her friends as well, and does not pay me. And worst of all, he says, she does not even treat me like her friend after all these years. He says she treats me as staff, and that I delude myself thinking I am her friend, or that she and I are equals and she needs me. And that I should have some respect for myself and live a more realistic life with the DC and him and not go to any more events or work for free.

I am very confused about this because I do know that I am very drawn to older women because my DM died when I was a toddler. I am always searching for the elusive mother figure and maybe I have attached something maternal to A who is a very strong, admirable, successful older woman, who I feel has to some extent taken me under her wing. I have done this in the past with other older women, but I don't necessarily see it as a problem for me.

If I am very honest with myself, there is part of me, I think, which would quite like to be more of her friend than she allows, perhaps talk about more general things rather than work and know each other's lives better, or her to know my DC better, or to have more of a "mother/daughter" dynamic after all these years,for eg I have never been invited for dinner at her house and she has dinner parties all the time. I have invited her to mine but she always declines, mainly because of geography and because she is busy. But I don't waste time mulling over this, or resenting it not happening or pushing to make it happen. And I am quite happy with my situation, and the level at which A regards me. DH would argue that I wait like a little minion to be called or asked to help and then I drop everything in the hope of approval from "mummy."

To be even more honest, I do think some of my self esteem rests in being needed by her or performing a function for her. There is something about the relationship that makes me feel secure. DH always knows when I receive an email from her as he says my face "lights up." I'm aware that sounds a bit weirdly romantic, but it's not. And if it's not causing me any harm, surely it is okay?

My loyalty and voluntary work for her does not get in the way of family life or caring for the DC. DH says it Has an impact on the family because I am giving my time and not getting anything back. Not even friendship. But isn't that what charity work is anyway? And if I enjoy it and being around thsee people, surely that would be like a hobbie anyway?

Can anyone relate? What do you think? Do I sound crazy?

Desmondo2016 Sat 21-Oct-17 20:51:32

With absolutely no offence meant at all I think you should consider your dh may have a point . You seem to give a lot of time and expertise willingly for no return of benefit to anything other than your self esteem and desire to impress, and be near to, this women.

Jellyheadbang Sat 21-Oct-17 20:59:21

If you think there's any truth in it then consider how you could make this work better/differently for you and your family.
As a sahm you need interests outside of the home to keep your mind fresh.
Is there any truth in what he says about A?
If it makes you feel good and gives you much needed stimulation carry on.

SandyY2K Sat 21-Oct-17 21:00:09

I kind of agree with him tbh. She's using you when she needs pro bono work.

I think you need to try and develop a new social circle.. or at least an additional set of friends.

Redcliff Sat 21-Oct-17 21:09:14

If you enjoy it and it keeps your hand it then why not? I am impressed you can find the time - 4 under 6 must be full on.

TemptressofWaikiki Sat 21-Oct-17 21:14:08

Must confess that I am concerned that you are being used too. To have known someone that long, putting in so much of your heart and soul even now and for free, yet still not being classed as close enough to ever being invited on a social level, is rather sad to read. I think your DH can see this and feels upset on your behalf for those reasons.

junebirthdaygirl Sat 21-Oct-17 21:15:07

I think that as long as it suits you you should do it. Being at home can be boring and you are keeping your hand in. You can always put that voluntary work on your CV later. But maybe look to moving to a tiny bit of paid consultancy work now so you can move away from free work and start charging a bit. You are obviously very competent in this area and l would use your contacts now to start, even an online business.
As l have got older l have decided if something suits me and lm enjoying it lm not going to look too much into why. I try to have a win win situation.

Liara Sat 21-Oct-17 21:22:22

You seem to really enjoy it, and it is really healthy to have something other than the house and the children in your life, IMO.

I honestly don't see a problem, specially as it's for a charity (would probably feel differently about it if it was a profit making business she was running though).

And that I should have some respect for myself and live a more realistic life with the DC and him and not go to any more events or work for free.

This, however, rang alarm bells for me. If he was encouraging you to diversify your outside interests to a wider social circle/other areas of interest then fair enough, and the free work for the charity would probably be a natural casualty. But suggesting you replace it with more him and the DC is not so good. Having outside interests is good for your self respect, not bad!

Oliversmumsarmy Sat 21-Oct-17 21:32:08

If your post has been replaced why do you need to step in.

I have to agree with your dh I think this woman is not nor has ever been your friend.

Just because this is a charity it doesn't mean you work for free.
Where are your DC when you are working for free.
Are you paying for childcare or is your dh taking over.
Have you thought of working for a proper company that pays you for your time.
Or if you just want to dip in and out do some agency work.

What ever you think, you are a SAHM who drops the children as soon as a better offer comes along.

I think it would do you the world of good if you did actually get a job or start temping away from this charity work

AtrociousCircumstance Sat 21-Oct-17 21:38:12

I don't know what the answer is here. Maybe your DH is right, yet you still benefit from the set-up - you feel connected to something important and you can share your skills and feel validated (as you should - It's vital work).

Maybe it doesn't matter if he is right or not. If you think it through and start to feel as taken advantage of as he suggests then it's time to rethink.

For some reason your OP has really touched me - your loss of your mum, your need for a mother figure, your understanding of this, your generosity in an important field.

I just think you sound great flowers

christmaswreaths Sat 21-Oct-17 21:39:39

It sounds like this woman has a huge influence on you and she takes advantage of it

It's nor the same as independently doing some voluntary work when it suits you - different set up

Wherearemymarbles Sat 21-Oct-17 21:41:18

Question, is A someone who was very successful, made a ton of money and went into charity, to give ‘something back’

Would A work for you they way you work for her?

I think your husband is absolutely right. For sure you get something out of it but A see’s you as means to an end and nothing more.

Why not use your energy and expertise to do your own charity work, be the person others aspire to be rather being the child trying to impress an oblivious parent?

Cricrichan Sat 21-Oct-17 21:50:29

As long as you enjoy it and are getting satisfaction from giving your expertise to a charity and it's not taking you away from paid employment,plus giving you a change from looking after house and kids, then I don't see the problem.

I've done lots of free work whilst I've been a sahm. I was chairman for my kids nursery, did lots of stuff for playgroups, do social media marketing for my kids sports clubs, gotten sponsorship too as well as helped clean, baking, staff events etc. And many mums do it too.

It keeps your hand in work and it'll help when you go back to work.

However, she obviously has no interest in you as a friend, so as long as you don't mind that, then it's ok.

Angelf1sh Sat 21-Oct-17 21:51:55

Lots of people do charity work for free. If you’re enjoying it and getting a boost from it (for whatever reason), then keep doing it. Just because your DH doubts her motives, doesn’t make him right.

If, on the other hand, you are worried that you are possibly being taken advantage of of (the “I don’t mind” comments you’ve made are a bit ambiguous as to whether you feel put upon) then I’d second the paid consultancy idea.

Either way, I think you need to bear in mind that your DH will have his own motives for saying what he has said. They may be simply looking out for your interests or, as others have said, he may be looking out for his.

Dozer Sat 21-Oct-17 21:55:11

How much of your time have you volunteered? Has it been convenient for you?

Would A give you a reference, now, should you decide to seek paid WoH?

RunRabbitRunRabbit Sat 21-Oct-17 22:01:28

How often do you say no? It must be inconvenient sometimes.

What's your cut off point before you charge? An hour a week? Lots of lawyers charge per 15 minutes, have you totted up the money she has saved from you this year.

You are definitely not her friend. The dinner parties say it all. She's keeping you at arms length.

MargoChanning Sat 21-Oct-17 22:05:01

'To be even more honest, I do think some of my self esteem rests in being needed by her or performing a function for her. '

I think she knows this and if your boss was as wonderful as you think she is, she should be offering to pay you, not asking you to work for free for her friends. Maybe test the waters a bit and next time say 'I would love to help out but i would now need to be paid as a freelancer' and see how she reacts. If she gets annoyed, you'll know she's taking advantage.

I dont think there is anything wrong in admiring her, and you have clearly benefited from your working relationship. But you no longer work for her - she should be paying you for your services. Being in her spotlight as it were, as lovely as that may feel, is not good enough. The fact that she doesnt invite you to her home shows she doesnt see you as a personal friend.

Im not suggesting she's a bad person - but i think your DH has a point.

Salvatoreseraphino Sat 21-Oct-17 22:06:17

Thank you for all your responses.

I do paperwork for the charity when the DC are in bed and when the older ones are at school. For events, they are usually evenings and i get a babysitter.

A would do anything for me professionally - like give me a reference, introduce me to another company to work at (for money.) she always asks me what she can do and thanks me a lot.

But I suppose what I want most is to be her friend. And I can't ask for that.

NinonDeLenclos Sat 21-Oct-17 22:09:40

I think your DP is being a bit harsh and a bit paranoid. But at the same time I think he has a point - even if I wouldn't put it in those terms.

I understand if she wants to keep her relationship with you professional. But realistically, it's a bit odd to have worked together for 15 years and basically get on with her & not see her socially. I've got people I worked with for much less time than you have who became friends. And if she's not strictly a friend, then why do stuff for her for free. I do think you should charge for your time, even if its reduced rates.

Having said all that, your DP probably has no idea how hard it is for women to keep one foot in the workplace when bringing up children, what you have is valuable if you ever want to return to work.

NinonDeLenclos Sat 21-Oct-17 22:11:41

Xpost. I don't really see why you can't ask to be her friend, other than she's unwilling to give you friendship. I've picked up loads of older friends male and female in my working life - one of them I only worked with once - but we really got on.

Spudlet Sat 21-Oct-17 22:11:58

Speaking as someone who used to work for a charity, there is a tendency to take what people offer to give. No one is going to say 'No no, no more unpaid overtime for you!' or 'Let us spontaneously offer you a pay rise!' or similar, because the baseline is that people are generally there because they care about the cause and are therefore often willing to go above and beyond for that.

However, that can easily lead to your goodwill being exploited, and you giving more than you should.

If you are doing your old job or giving legal advice, you should be being paid. This is only fair. Volunteering to me would be helping out on a stall at an event or stuffing envelopes or whatever. Not giving free legal advice! It would be worth researching the going rate for a freelancer in your sector, at the very least. This may be quite an eye opener to you... and put into perspective how much you are giving. Then you can act however you see fit.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sat 21-Oct-17 22:11:59

I think the fact that you’ve never spent time together socially speaks volumes. She probably is quite fond of you but in the way that you’d be fond of your most loyal and trusted staff. You’re still staff. Sorry.

dinosaursandtea Sat 21-Oct-17 22:15:46

It sounds like you miss being an employee and having a job. Would you go back to work part time? Are you planning on going back to work at all?

Leilaniii Sat 21-Oct-17 22:17:55

I have never been invited for dinner at her house and she has dinner parties all the time.

This sentence from your post jumped out at me. She's using you, sorry. Is there another charity that you could get involved with?

Serin Sat 21-Oct-17 22:20:16

She is well and truly taking advantage of you.

I do understand your longing for a mother figure but she is not letting you get close at all.

What is your mother in law like? Could you cultivate that relationship a little more?

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