This isn’t a story so much about motherhood as it is a story about life…
But it starts with a story about motherhood.
(If that doesn’t interest you, please bear with me. I have a very important point to make.)
3 years ago, I returned to work after 6 blissful months on maternity leave. (Well–mostly blissful. The sleep deprivation the first two months was rough. But the rest of it was actually quite pleasant.)
I worked for a start-up, in a big shared incubator office. That meant my company had a table in the middle of a big room full of other companies with tables. There was no privacy, no walls, even, and certainly no dedicated pumping room.
(For those who don’t know, a pumping room is a small room breastfeeding parents use to pump milk for their baby when they’re away from them. It’s really quite simple–all you need is an outlet and a fridge and a lock on the door. Shockingly, many public spaces are still incapable of providing this very basic thing.)
There was a pumping room in the building–it was just 15 floors and another elevator bank away, which meant it took 15 minutes for me to even get there. Also, it wasn’t just a pumping room–it served many purposes, which meant not only was I trying to work around the schedule of other pumping parents, but also of people who used it as a daily prayer room, meditation room, yoga room, etc. I had to pump 3 times per day while at work, at very specific times. Sharing this room was … difficult, to say the least.
For a month, I sucked it up and worked around other people’s schedules as well as my own, got my pumping done and my baby fed. It took a tremendous amount of time and stress and tears. But I did it.
Then my friend, who also happened to be my boss at the time, came back to work from her own maternity leave.
On the first day back, I lamented about the pumping room situation. She listened–then shook her head.
“No. I’m not doing that. Let’s see what we can do.”
She went to our CEO and our HR person, and within a few days of her return, had gotten them to agree to convert one of our phone booth rooms into our own personal pumping room. It was simple: add a fridge, a chair, and a lock, and there we had it.
I looked on, amazed. And of course, I asked myself: Why didn’t I think of that?
The truth is, I had considered how easy it would be if I could use one of those rooms to pump. But I didn’t want to bother anyone with my little request, you see. Never mind that me schlepping back and forth to the pumping room 15 floors away every day not only negatively affected me, but it messed with the schedules of everyone trying to have meetings with me. And converting a phone booth room to a pumping room … really didn’t negatively affect anyone at all, since other people could still use it when the pumping parents weren’t. They even had a more comfortable chair to sit in.
I think about this a lot. My friend who made the pumping room happen is someone I’ve always admired. Because she’s good at getting stuff done. And it’s not like she runs around making absurd demands–she’s not a Karen. She just notices when something could be improved upon, and does what she has to do to make that improvement.
Ever since then–ever since I met her, really–I’ve been trying to find opportunities like that in my everyday life.
Where can I go just a little further, ask something of someone, change something around just a little bit, to make life easier?
Photo by Anton Luzhkovsky on Unsplash