Saturday, September 26, 2009

Guest Blogger: The Boob Lady (Jen) The Day She Traded in Sweatpants for Work Clothes

September 22nd marked the end of my maternity leave and the beginning to my new life as "working mom." First task: signage.

My hope is that this effort will reduce the chances of an 18-year-old male student seeing my boobs from 90% to about 50%. Bring 'em on!

I've been getting a lot of nervous questions and comments about my return to work, "Is it hard to be away from Rigley?" "Are you OK?" and my personal favorite "If you need to cry, you can use my office" (Thanks, Alexis!!).

So here's the 411 on how Jen is really doing with the whole return to work thang:

All in all, it's been a pretty smooth transition. I have my wonderful colleagues to thank for a "Welcome Back Dance Party!", complete with booty rap and tons of Prince songs (do they know me or what?). And frankly, the novelty of being able to meet my own needs (ie. eating lunch, going to the bathroom, and working uninterrupted on the computer) without negotiating a tiny human was so joyous for me that I felt manic for about 2 days. I'm not sure how the new schedule will work out in the long run, but for now, I feel pretty good.

I can understand why this is a tough issue for people, though. I have a job that I love and I am still challenged by feelings of guilt, anger, and being pulled in many different directions. Here is a snapshot of a fairly regular stream of thought for me while at work:

Woo hoo! I'm back at work. This is awesome. I can go to the bathroom.
I'm going to the bathroom everybody!
Look at me. I'm in the bathroom.
God, I'm so happy. It's nice to meet my own needs.
Should I be feeling this happy?
Oh shit, I probably should not be feeling this happy since I'm not with my baby.
Good parents don't feel happy when they are away from their children.
I feel guilty. I should be with my baby.
Oh no! I forgot to tell the day care lady that Rigley likes to sleep on her side with her arms around her head.
And that she has trouble sometimes eating from a bottle.
Speaking of food, my boobs are huge. I should pump.
I hate pumping at work.
This back to work thing sucks.
"Oh hi, Keith. I'm going to pump milk from my boobs now. I'll talk to you about that work thing in 15 minutes...and I won't look like Pamela Anderson anymore."
(while pumping) This is so Fing dumb.
Not to mention time consuming....I can't get anything done.
Does my boss think I'm not getting anything done?
Why do women do this?
Hey wait, it's not women's fault, it's the systems fault for expecting us to juggle so many responsibilities.
F the man!
I'm moving to France where women get 1 year (1 year!!) of maternity leave.
I'm writing a letter to congress about how we should be more like France.
But wait, I like my job.
Oh God, think of single moms. Who hate their jobs.
I'm so lucky.
This is a great job. I get to make a difference, work with some great colleages and students, contribute to my household financially, and show Rigley that women can do it all.
Maybe that's not a reasonable expectation, though?
Maybe I should just try to be at home more with Rigley...keep things simple.
But I like my job.
I think I'll go to the bathroom....

Bottom line: women have tough choices when they have little people. Call your mom today and say "thank you" ...and write a letter to your representatives about what we already know: when the system invests in tiny humans and families (afforadable/free prenatal care, maternity leave, onsite daycares, affforadable early childhood education), we all win. Everyone can agree with this. Let's put our money where our mouth is.

Reporting to you live from a CSU bathroom, this is Jen Johnson, signing off.


Maggie said...

Ah, Jen, your writing made me laugh and cry at the same time. 11 years later than you in this struggle, and I still feel the same way. Love, Neighbor Margaret

Katherine said...

Thinking of you. Thanks for being so honest.
XOXO, Katherine

LA said...

So well said!

Melissa E said...

My eyes just filled with tears...all while laughing out loud! Thank you for sharing. You said it all so very well and having gone through this last fall, I can 100% percent relate!
Cheers to you! ~Melissa

Amberly Trask said...

Freaking HILARIOUS! I love you guys and enjoy hearing about all of your adventures!

Liberator said...

Amazing woman becoming amazing mother. Can't wait to talk to you soon. I love you.

mg said...

I'm disappointed to discover that sweatpants aren't work clothes...