Being a working mother can be extremely fulfilling. It can give you a meaningful sense of purpose, keep you challenged and provide your children with a strong role model. It can also be utterly ridiculous, awkward and exhausting. Sharing these triumphs and tribulations of working motherhood with my friends has helped me get through the more harrowing days with a smile on my face and given me the encouragement to help break down biases. I've compiled some of my favorite stories - from friends who work in a wide variety of professions and workplaces - to bring a little of that humor and solidarity to all the other working moms out there.
Pregnancy 1. I told my team of young software developers that I was expecting. They were all awkwardly silent for a minute (though it felt like 10 minutes) and then one of them started to golf clap.
2. A co-worker manhandled my baby bump and said, "Don't worry, my wife is a doctor." I wanted to say, "That means you have a medical degree how?" Awkward, and a bit painful.
3. I had just sat down at my desk in the morning when my water broke! I was in shock, but somehow made it to the bathroom and called my close work friend. With her help, I ended up slinking out of the office in borrowed size XS spandex bike shorts, barely squeezed up over my legs.
4. I was working on a freelance project that was scheduled to wrap up shortly before my due date. The client's marketing department went through an overhaul close to the project's original end date, however, and the new team decided to make some significant changes. Instead of enjoying a work-free maternity leave, much of my first month with my baby was spent with my daughter nursing on one side of me and my laptop on the other. I got pretty good at one-handed coding.
Back to Work 5. When I went back to work after my baby was born, I would pump in my office three times a day and hang a BIG sign on my door that said "Private. Knock please." Unfortunately, the sign didn't stop a male co-worker from walking into my office one day, without knocking, while I was in the middle of pumping. I screamed at him and he ran out, slammed my door and stood apologizing on the other side while I yelled at him to go far away!
6. I was scheduled to provide training to an elementary school staff and really needed to pump first. Since it was dismissal time, I had to strategically park away from the building and then sink down in my car in order to pump -- hoping that no one would call the police to report indecent exposure outside a school building.
7. One day I was leaving the office with my precious 13 ½ ounces of breast milk in my tote bag. Just as I was heading out the door to catch my bus, someone pointed out to me that my bag had been leaking all over the floor. Deep in the bottom of my breast-milk-soaked bag, I found the bottle with the cap slightly unscrewed and only 3 ounces of milk remaining. Not only did I get disgusted looks from my co-workers, but once I was on the crowded bus everyone around me thought I smelled like spoiled milk.
8. The first time I got my period again after having my baby, I wasn't expecting it and wasn't prepared. Right after realizing what had happened, my CEO called me into his office. He asked me to have a seat so we could chat. I didn't want to risk staining his chair, so I told him I had recently broken my tailbone in a fall and couldn't sit down.
Daily Life 9. My co-worker and I had babies around the same time and were both completely sleep deprived. We were working on an important project together and had to team up to function like one sane person. We were constantly pointing out stains on the other's clothes, reminding each other of what we had just been talking about and stepping in for each other in meetings when one of us would lose our train of thought. Two moms with four hours of sleep each = one well-rested employee!
10. I had just gotten home from an intense day at work. Within 10 minutes, I was wiping up what seemed like a gallon of (nose) blood off the trampoline, cleaning up the (shoe-less) kid who stepped in dog poop, and chasing after the (pants-less) toddler who pooped on the deck.
11. My daughter and I both got hit with a bad stomach flu. Unfortunately, I had left my laptop at work and had a critical project that I needed to stay on top of that day, so I piled my daughter in the car and drove 30 minutes to the office. By the time we got there, she had thrown up all over the car and I had puked in a bucket that I brought with me. I had to ask one of my employees to bring my laptop down to my car - poor thing had to plug his nose as he handed it to me!
12. Recently I was on a business trip and attended an 80s-theme party. I dressed the part including copious amounts of tacky makeup, which I failed to remove before bed that evening. The next morning I had a very early flight to catch so I could get home in time to bring my daughter to her new school orientation. I woke five minutes before the flight took off, freaked out and immediately rushed to the airport. There I was at the ticket counter, wiping the tears from my eyes and streaking teal, pink and black all over my face. The guy at the counter took pity on me and booked me on a direct flight home. We made it to my daughter's orientation for the last 25 minutes.
13. Last year I was in a packed committee meeting in the City Council Chambers and I was reaching into my purse to try to find a pen. I wasn't paying attention to which one I grabbed, and proceeded to click the top of it with my thumb to start taking notes. Suddenly, before I could stop it, the pen blared out, "SILENCE, MINIONS OF ZURG! YOU'RE IN THE CUSTODY OF THE GALACTIC ALLIANCE!" Everyone turned to see me, mortified, trying to shove a Buzz Lightyear pen back into my bag.
Do you have your own tales of working mother absurdity? Please share -- we moms have to stick together!