It's 2016 and I don't think I've offered a public shout-out for my former boss yet, the one I reported to while I worked through my pregnancy. She was awesome, you guys. She was understanding and supporting and flexible, and she didn't even get mad when I accidentally texted her that "I just want to lay in a bed of donuts" when my cravings were out of control. She figured out I was pregnant about three whole days after I did, weeks before anyone else outside of my family, and she kept it a secret for me at work for almost three months. I couldn't have asked for anything more from her.
And yet, despite have a great boss, returning from maternity leave was still super overwhelming. Overnight, I went from being a new mom to a working mom, something that rarely gets covered in those how-to-raise-your-baby books. I was lucky enough to report to someone who was helpful and accommodating, even allowing me to take over her office when I needed to pump and the mother's room in our building was occupied. And still, I felt like a hot mess. Wait, scratch that: I felt like a lukewarm mess, because I didn't even have the energy to make it to full-blown hotness. I was lucky enough that I could be fairly open with my old supervisor, but even I didn't tell her everything. Here's some insight into a few of the things that were constantly running through my mind:
"You Can Tell Me How Cute These Pictures On My Desk Are, If You Want To. No Pressure."
In other words, DO YOU WANT TO TALK TO ME ABOUT MY NEW BABY I'M HERE AND YOU ARE HERE PLEASE LET'S TALK ABOUT HIM.
"Please Me Know If There's Spit-Up (Or Any Other Bodily Fluids) On My Shirt."
Like, if something gets on my clothes in between dressing myself and leaving the house, there is a good chance I won't notice. Not because I'm not trying to be mindful of my professional appearance, but because, in all the other things I'm trying to do to get myself out the door to work, I'm not going to remember to look at my shoulders, too. I'm just not.
"There Are About 45 Videos Of My Little On My Phone At This Very Moment That I'm Not Watching."
I'm not asking for an award or anything, but personally I'm kind of proud of this one.
"This Isn't What I Thought It Would Be."
Some things about being a working mom were easier than I expected, like functioning once I got to the office. But some things were way — like actually getting out the door or coordinating childcare — were way, way tougher.
"Please Don't Judge My Seventh Cup Of Coffee."
I need the caffeine, and I can actually drink it in peace while it's hot here, so don't be surprised if this becomes a regular thing.
"My Ability To Participate In Water Cooler Convos Might Be Temporarily Hindered."
I mean, I can join in if we're talking about nipple confusion, swaddles, or about the weird TV series I'm binge-watching at night to keep myself from falling asleep while pumping. But current events? The weather? The latest episode of The Voice? I'm going to be smiling and nodding and that's about it.
"This Office Is The Most Luxurious Thing I've Ever Experienced..."
This entire desk is mine, there are adult conversations to be had, I can use this computer and feel like a grown-up. There aren't even any diaper bins to be found.
"But Also, Please Don't Make Everything About My Kid."
Yes, I think he's the best, and in general, I'm all for talking about him, but when, as a boss, the only thing you ever want to talk about is my child, or you relate even the most non-kid-related work things to my child, or to me being a mom, it really sucks. Maybe you think you're just being cute and fun, and I get that, but it effectively makes me feel a little invalidated as a human, like now that I am a mom, that's all I am. One of the best things about having a job outside the home? Getting to think about non-mom things for as much of the day as possible.
"Having To Leave The Office Sometimes Doesn't Mean I'm "Using My Kid As An Excuse Not To Work" — Employees Are Humans, And You Have To Accept That."
I'll do everything possible to make sure that my child is taken care of while I'm here so that I can be completely focused on my job as much as possible. I'll make sure there are back-up plans. I'll make back-up plans for my back-up plans. But the truth is, most employees are programmed to hide the little bits of their humanness that might distract from work — they come in when they're sick and pretend they're not, and schedule dentist appointments on Saturday mornings — but having a kid makes that much harder. We might be able to sacrifice our own well-being for the sake of our job, but we don't jeopardize our kids having their needs met.
And sometimes that means we have to dip out early if they get sick and there's no sitter. Employees are humans (shock, I know) and sometimes they have to be human during business hours. (Bonus: Being cool about that will make your human employees far more likely to make it up to you by working late another day.)
"...But I'm Still Leaving At 5:01 p.m. Sharp."
But even on the best, least-human days, I'm still ready to roll as soon as I can. Sorry. As nice as it is to have a reprieve from the trenches of parenthood, I am not missing it any longer than absolutely necessary. Some things never change.