So, I’ve been thinking about the turmoil of the working mother. I haven’t really talked to anyone else about this, but I imagine that I cannot possibly be alone, and what I feel is probably universally shared by all moms who go to work.
I get up in the morning, race around as quietly as possible to get as much done before Oliver and Hazel wake up, and then get them ready. I drive them to their nanny’s house on my way to work, and have to give them hugs and kisses (and sometimes more hugs and kisses) before I leave for work. Some mornings I can’t help but cry on my way in.
I go to work, and by the time I arrive, I have put on my auditing persona. I concentrate on work and colleagues, and while I talk about my kids (perhaps more than these single guys that I work with are really interested in… but they humor me, and I love them for it), I’m not really focused on them. I love my job, I work hard, I get stuff done. I talk with my clients, I try to help my staff, I audit financial statements.
Except when it’s time for me to have some quiet time with my pump. I take the pump downstairs, and read parenting magazines. Pumping is never as satisfying as nursing (I guess machines really aren’t an adequate replacement for children, as much as I may love my Crackberry), and I always wonder what the people who work in the offices next to the room clearly labeled “LACTATION ROOM” think of me when I walk in and out, and if they wonder about the mysterious interior of the locked room.
Some of my more forward coworkers have asked me about the room, and some general questions about pumping. I appreciate that, because it’s way less awkward. More awkward is when someone asks me an innocuous question about the trendy black carrying case (“Is your lunch in there?”), and I can’t think of anything to say except the truth–that it’s a pump. The younger people are sometimes really slow to pick up, and ask, “A pump? What do you mean?”, and I have to explain, for breastmilk. (Of course, as I’m writing this, the clever answer seems obvious–is my lunch in there? No, but my daughter’s is!)
As I near the end of my workday, I climb back into my car and make mental to do lists for the next day as I drive away from Fannie Mae’s offices and towards home, my kids, and the other me.
When I arrive at my nanny’s house, Oliver doesn’t want to talk to me–he doesn’t do transitions well, and my arrival is no different. Hazel smiles at me like I have just made her whole universe better–and her smile does the same for mine. We go home, play, eat, bathe, read, sing, dance, and love.
Except on the really rough days, I love my job. I love what I do. I love that I go to work. In other circumstances, I would love to be full time. But I love my kids. I love Oliver’s jokes, Hazel’s stubbornness, the way that they hold hands and kiss and love each other so much. Is it possible to have it all? Maybe I am–maybe having it all involves sacrificing a little bit of everything, but coming out as a better, more whole me on the other side. Am I cheating my kids out of my time? Am I cheating my coworkers out of my knowledge and experience? Maybe. But I think that I need both sides of me–I need Mommy-Katy, as well as Katy-Katy. And, just as important (if not discussed here), I need Conner’s Katy, too.