I was unpleasant;ly surprised by a work-related situation this week which really made me feel like total--for want of a better word--crap. The situation reflected poor professionalism on the part of a colleague, and it derailed me for about two days. These things happen in any job, I know, but knowing this doesn't make dealing with it any easier. My feelings and sense of professional pride were hurt, so I did the mature, adult thing and retreated to the ladies room for about fifteen minutes where I sat on the closed toilet seat and stewed and, as I often do when absorbing an injustice, shed a few tears in private. That particular set of bathroom stalls is very familiar to me. Seven years ago I sat on the closed toilet seat of that same stall and pumped milk for baby T. I was upset then too, and I sat there pumping and stewing and shedding tears over a remark another female colleague had made when she saw me with the breast pump.
"You should really do THAT in your office," she said, making the 'that' sound like something ugly and nasty.
"I don't have an office," I replied.
I felt like crap then, too.
What gave me comfort that day, seven years ago, was thinking about my sweet-faced baby girl home with my husband, and my four-year old son, busy at preschool. I couldn't wait to be done with my day and back home with them again. Just conjuring up their faces made my frustration and anger and hurt feelings evaporate, there in that bathroom stall, and the remark that lady made to me became just a harmless remark--one that had lost all power over me.
It makes sense then that on that morning this week, as I sat in the same bathroom stall again trying to gather myself, I thought about baby T. from seven years ago and wondered, with growing amazement and pride how I had managed it all; how I had squeezed in there in that undignified space and set myself up in the stall and managed to pump a good three ounces of milk for my baby girl while workshop meetings went on in the room next door, that woman's stinging comment to me fading from my ears. I felt like a rock star all of a sudden, I tell you, thinking about how I had managed it all that day.
And while the memory didn't wipe all the unpleasantness away, it did make me feel better inside. Because a job--no matter how much you love and enjoy it, or how important it is to you, or how committed you are to it--and it is all those things to me--is just, in the end, a job.
But motherhood--motherhood is what makes you a rock star.