Friday, March 28, 2008

Working Mum: You'll Work it Out

I've been getting quite a few hits on this blog from people looking for information on "pumping during a business trip" or "first business trip away from baby". Google is directing these women to my post about the business trip I took when Pumpkin was 6 months old. I hope the information in that post was helpful to them, because I remember how stressed I was when I was preparing for that trip, and how desperately I combed the internet looking for information that would help me. In the end, the trip itself was far easier than I had feared. I had the good sense to pack patterned tops and plenty of breast pads, because I didn't get to pump on the schedule my body was used to, but other than a little more leakage than usual and the weirdness of pumping at my seat on the airplane, it wasn't so bad.

I think there is a general lesson in there about being a working mother. The logistics can be tricky, but you'll work it out, you really will. I've never met a woman who has said that she stopped working to stay home with her baby because she couldn't get the logistics to work out. Everyone I know who stays home does so either because they don't want to be away from their baby or because the finances don't work out, due to the cost of day care.

I've met working, pumping mothers in all sorts of professions: teachers, who have to figure out how to pump during a day with very limited breaks; an airplane pilot, with pumping logistics that boggled my mind; people working in retail, some of whom had to remind their employers that California law requires employers to give workers a break to pump; and businesswomen in a variety of work situations, whose pumping dilemmas are as varied as their fields of expertise. We all fretted before we went back to work about how we would make pumping work out, and we all figured it out. (And if you don't want to solve this particular dilemma, and decide to give your baby formula while you work, that is fine, too.)

The "you'll work it out" principle applies to many other working parent quandaries, too. Several months ago, when we were just starting Pumpkin on solid foods, Hubby and I had no idea how we would fit a solid food breakfast into our already hectic morning routine. Yet somehow, we did, and now that is as much a part of our routine as the incredibly cute wave bye-bye routine we do every day. We've muddled through a long list of everyday dilemmas, and every other working parent I know has, as well. We all solve the problems differently, but we all solve the problems.

Personally, I wouldn't have my life any other way. I love the way that Pumpkin grounds me and cheers me up after a tough day at work, and I love the way my work makes me feel competent and intelligent when the mommy thing is kicking my butt. There are definitely things I miss from my pre-Pumpkin life, but on the whole, I think I like the new life.

Well, I like the new life most days. I'm not saying that being a working mother isn't hard, and I definitely suffer from the occasional bout of guilt about it all. I have certainly found that the working mom experience has shown me what my true priorities are, because most weeks, the things that aren't priorities don't get done. I also have bad days (like yesterday!) when I straggle home from a tough day at work, wanting nothing more than to pop open a beer and chill out with Hubby. Early on, that desire was subjugated to my need for sleep, and I just wen to bed hoping that tomorrow would be better- and it usually was. Now that Pumpkin is sleeping a little better, I get my chill out beer- it just has to wait until after Pumpkin is down for the night. And before that, I usually get some quality Pumpkin play time, which frankly takes away the work stress far better than the beer does.

So if you're thinking about joining the ranks of working moms, and feeling a bit nervous about the logistics of how you'll juggle work and home, don't worry, you'll work it out. You're a smart woman, and you'll find solutions to the problems that crop up. Talk to other working parents, but don't be constrained by their solutions. Everyone has to find the It will be hard, and you will get angry at a society that sometimes seems to have stacked the deck against you, but you'll have some really good days and they will keep you going through the bad ones. And remember, you had bad days before the baby was born, too.


  1. Amen! It's not easy, but we figure out ways to make it work.

  2. Anonymous11:51 AM

    I remember thinking that the bag for the pump was pretty low-key when I bought it. But now I see it all the time--a little more boxy than the regular purse and briefcase--at the airport, business meetings, conferences, etc. It makes me realize how many other moms are making it work.


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