A colleague at my day job is getting married. This would be a non-issue to me but our site manager decided to throw a morning tea and send around a card an envelope of cash to go towards a wedding present for her, an unprecedented gesture. Sure, there’s been going away parties and maternity leave soirees, but never before have we been asked as an organisation to help celebrate the marriage of a colleague.
Like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex & the City, I couldn’t help but wonder about the episode in which her shoes get stolen at a baby shower which leads Carrie to question the amount of money she’s spent on her attached and parenting friends when no one has done the same for her. “We all have birthdays,” Carrie retorts when Charlotte offers that as a day that everyone lauds you. And while not even close friends can sometimes make it to birthday galas (for those who choose to acknowledge the day with celebration), we certainly don’t get conference rooms reserved, Outlook events created and envelopes circulating the workplace every time we turn a year older.
As someone who doesn’t know if she’ll get married and who doesn’t want kids, workplace gatherings celebrating these milestones will likely never happen for me. (Never mind that I don’t hope to be working in that company when these hypothetical events would roll around.) After six years’ service I’ll probably get a shindig when I leave but the party is not the point. Nor is the fact that there have been many other people to have gotten married in my time there and no such fuss was made about them. *cough* Favouritism *cough*.
Why should people who subscribe to the boring notion of marriage, kids, one career for life and a weatherboard in the suburbs be celebrated for doing exactly what society expects? We have plenty of gay colleagues, for example; isn’t that just rubbing it in their faces? I’m content enough with my decisions not to go down the abovementioned route that I’m not going to let one little event notification shame me into submission but what about someone who’s marriage has just broken down. Or someone who can’t have children or who has lost a child when the inevitable maternity leave announcement occurs?
You may chalk it up to being a Negative Nancy and pooping on free food and an excuse to get out of work. But until the lifestyles of people from all walks of life are respected enough to throw a party for them just because (and let’s be honest, weddings—and divorces!—are common enough that this really is throwing a party just because), celebrate it on your own time.