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working mom

The Pumping Room

There is no more salient reminder that I am a mom at work than the pumping room.

I spend at least 20 minutes of my work days in one, meditating on the dulcet tones of my Pump In Style’s relentless motor. It’s a stark shift to the day. One moment, I’m sitting at my desk like any other 9-5er. Headphones cutting out ambient cubicle chatter. Fingers clicking away at the keyboard and mouse.

And then this: sitting on a discarded office chair, shirt hiked up to my neck, holding what amount to two suction cups up to my boobs so my nipples can be rhythmically sucked of milk. I do not feel remotely “In Style.”

I’ve taken to calling my sister while I pump, since she’s usually in her office eating lunch at the same time. I told her that she should check out her company’s pumping room, since if she ever decides to have kids, she’ll probably spend a lot of time in there.

“Oh, I’ve heard it’s pretty luxurious,” she said. She works at an investment firm. She hasn’t seen it, but has heard rumors of extremely plush chairs, footrests and amazing views.

I suddenly had a vision of thousands of pumping rooms, some extravagant, some threadbare. Re-purposed corner offices, closets, bathrooms.

So I offer this: a portrait of my pumping room.

Yes. That is an upturned-recycling-bin pump shelf.

#pumpingroomportrait

A post shared by Stephanie Mackley (@stephaniemackley) on

So where are you pumping, back-to-work moms? I’m intrigued, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Thanks to the glorious world of social media, you can show us.

Rumor has it, if you take a picture of your pumping room and then share it on Instagram or, god forbid, Tweet it, then you can declare its identity as a pumping room portrait with ye olde hashtag #pumpingroomportrait. I can’t believe I’m recommending hashtagging. But I am. It’s for a good cause.

Whatever your particular social media leaning, go for it. And if you don’t want to share your portrait from any of your personal accounts, send me a message with your photo on my Honest Mom Facebook page and I’ll share it anonymously.

Let’s lift the veil on the nooks and crannies where we pumpers are spending our valuable time. I’ll share our photos in an upcoming post, so we can start forming the social commentary that will surely come from having a compendium of pumping room portraits.

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This blog post originally appeared at Get Born. And if you haven’t checked it out, you should.

Mostly stay at home mom tries to carve out space for another job

I’m about to find out just how much work I do everyday. Next month, I’ll have 12 hours less every week to launder and nurse and clean and shop and cook and shuttle and coordinate.

I got a job.

The acquisition of this job was a complete miracle.

As I bounced Cal down for one of the first naps after AJ returned to work after his paternity leave, I thought one of those thoughts that feels three dimensional. It popped up like a glossy cartoon bubble with words dressed in a distinctive font above my head:

I think I want a job.

It’s time for a big caveat now because, as we all know, I already have a job. A big, fat raise-2-children-and-keep-a-house-going job. And since I had Jo, I’ve had many paying jobs—freelancing video production or taking doula clients. But the cartoon bubble thought was about an employee job, an I-do-what-you-tell-me-to-and-you-keep-the-work-coming-and-sign-the-checks job.

Literally (and I mean Literally!) half an hour later, I got a phone call from a woman I’d met at a 4-year-old birthday party the week before, and she said, “Hey, this is Ada from Lex’s birthday party. Do you want a job?”

Why yes, I do.

And so now I have one. Weird.

The day before I got the job, I was lamenting the oceans of time I had at home. I could go into existential fits about the next sink of dishes or diaper change—“Is this all there is?!”

I’d find myself fantasizing about this.

Photo by Tim Caynes
Photo by Tim Caynes

The day after I got the job, I started clinging to Cal, and feeling all nostalgic hanging the laundry up on the line. I would actually find myself enjoying, nay treasuring the idyllic fantasyland that is staying at home with your children.

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Grass is greener anyone?

I start mid-November, and I’m nervous about all the logistics—getting Jo to pre-school, then Cal to the nanny share, then me to work. And then, 6 hours later, do the whole thing in reverse, burst into the house and start sorting dinner out while I try to deeply re-connect with one kinetic 4 year old and one snuggly 5 monther.

The amount of energy and coordination it is taking to free my time for 12 regular hours of paid work is extraordinary.  It’s as though I have to build up enough speed to catapult myself into orbit or something. I have to coordinate childcare schedules for two different kids at three different locations, re-work my participation schedule at Jo’s pre-school, figure out the whole breast pumping palava and wonder how, after all is said and done, the groceries will find their way home and the clothes will get washed and the food get to our table.

At the risk of sounding like a privileged, ungrateful whiner, I’m resentful about the particular overwhelm I’m feeling during this transition into work.

I wanna get all 4-year-old trantrum-y and stomp my feet. It’s just not fair that I feel like I’ll still have all the same responsibilities AND 12 hours of paid work to do every week. If I don’t initiate some conversations with AJ about a significant re-organizing of responsibilities and maybe finding a house cleaner, I’m basically expecting it to look like a hell hole around here in a couple weeks. I want someone to step in and equitably re-arrange everything so that AJ and I both have equal and manageable responsibilities on the home front.

I think that person will have to be me.

Well, would you look at that—another new job.

Small victories and a recipe request

Things are coming along around here.

We have a dining room that is reasonably apportioned.

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Our towels and sheets have their own shelves in a linen closet!

Various things like tea and lentils and potato peelers are starting to be organized, and sometimes I open the right drawer or cabinet on the first try.

These are the victories of moving.

The pregnancy rolls along. This baby is a thumper. And for the first time in the past couple of weeks, strangers are asking when I’m due. I love that. Really. It’s so affirming to get outside recognition for the fact that I really am, all day every day, growing and carrying another person.

I’ve had an inspiring freelance video project to work on. Have I mentioned that I’m a video director and editor and that I love it? Well, I am. And I do. Especially when, as happened this morning, I open my email to see if my client received the revised cut of the video I sent, and see these replies:

Oh my god!!, it’s soooooo gooood!
O my gosh, it made me cry!
You’re wonderful!

What a gift it was to get these notes. The uplift of that affirmation is stunning, as I wade through the daily overwhelm of being J’s mother, moving into the first house we’ve ever owned, trying to find renters for our back house, (Did I mention we bought a duplex? Well, we did. And 2 weeks ago our renters gave notice.) and then try to carve out 15 hours of work a week towards a video deadline. There are times in the last week when I’ve wondered if it’s worth it–when there’s no food ready or even prepped for dinner at 7 pm, when I have to field renters stopping by and husbands staying home sick in the midst of my “focussed work time,” that blessed 4 hour window of paid childcare.

Sometimes, the demands of my life press in so close and heavy that even the smallest movement requires a huge grunt of strength and motivation.

So it’s particularly rejuvenating under those conditions to be able to accomplish something, from start to finish, to have it be valued and to get paid for it. Chalk one up in the victory column.

And now, I need some help. In the midst of this home-owning, landlording, pre-natal, part-time work blur, I’ve been lamenting how challenging it is to buy and make enough food for 3 people every day. Apparently, I need to start buying those industrial size tubs of yogurt and 2 dozen eggs at a time. And I could also start thinking about dinner before its 6pm. Perhaps I could even talk with A about some sort of dinner or shopping schedule in which he reliably participates. These are all reasonable ideas.

Today, I took some time to go through a decades worth of crumpled, food-stained recipes I’ve torn out of magazines. I methodically reviewed, cut out, taped them onto recipe cards and filed them away. Part of me wondered if I’d be better off taking pictures and making a file on my computer. But there is something romantic and simple about having a recipe card on the counter, collecting dribbles of sauce and flour over the course of an evening in the kitchen.

As I looked through my newly fluffed collection of recipes just now, I realize that I want more options for things that I can make heaps of and have stashed away in the fridge so I’m not just eating granola all day long.

This is where you come in: what are the recipes you go back to, again and again, when you know its a crazy week ahead and you need to whip up a whole bunch of something and eat off of it happily all week?

Thank you in advance!