My former company designated a weekly winner of a cup. It is passed from employee to employee, usually with a speech to explain the addition of a trinket to the cup AND to recognize the incoming winner.
This was my speech (and added trinket) from March 2nd, 2018.
Marlene Sanders was the first woman to report from Vietnam during the war. She also had a son. When asked for advice, on how to manage it all from a younger journalist, she said this.
“Never apologize for working. You love what you do, and loving what you do is a great gift to your child.”
Even though I am lucky enough to have my child through some extraordinary scientific means, I still wasn’t sure motherhood was for me. And honestly, my professional life and how he would affect it scared me the most. I pride myself on helping. The business. People who don’t have as loud of a voice. Connecting dots. How much of where I found value would I be compromising because of this little human who I didn’t even know yet?
These considerations contributed to significant postpartum anxiety and depression. In fact, this time exactly a year ago, I had three weeks left in maternity leave, and the thought of that was causing near daily panic attacks.
With a good doctor, some better medicine, and lots of talking, I got through those first several months. And, after a few more, I was finally able to internalize the advice given by Sanders. I am here today because I wanted my child to see a good example of taking care of yourself, both in and outside of the workplace.
So this is what I am adding to the cup. The working mom. As a reminder to myself and all the other PARENTS here that we are not defined by being a parent, but in reality, it is one of the many pieces that makes us up and makes us better people. AND as a reminder that while we have come so far, we still have a long way to go in terms of women‘s rights when it comes to caring for herself and her child postpartum.
In that vein, I want to give the cup to someone who, I feel, holds dear to all the values we focus on here. While I have seen him embrace all of them on a near daily basis in my short tenure, there is one that, given the story I have just told, sticks in my mind above all. This story, I believe, demonstrates his incredible empathy.
We were in San Diego, after a long day on-site with a customer. As most of you know I do, I was pumping to feed my kiddo throughout the day. I started the day pumping in a bathroom at the Westin. My lunch break had me pumping in a car. And finally, as usually happens, I ran into a few troubles at with TSA because of the liquids I had with me.
It took almost 30 minutes, but I finally got it all sorted out with the TSA agent about the laws with regards to transporting breastmilk.
This coworker stood there with me even though I let him know it was going to take a long time (which it did), asking questions, and seeking understanding. He didn’t shy away because it’s breastmilk. He didn’t turn his head. He was empathetic. And human. And a little angry on behalf of not just me, but of all the moms who have to deal with a lack of education, enablement, and resources. And for that, and for the steadfastness and all the other values he embraces, I pass the cup to him.