It probably shouldn’t be so hard, but getting all the elements of the work/daycare commute down has been a big part of my new working mom life. Yet I don’t feel like I hear other working moms talk about this as much as I feel like I’m thinking or complaining about it. Perhaps it’s city living, or perhaps it’s just my utter disdain for all things commute related- it’s always on my mind!
So after a few months of refining, I thought I had my system down:
Each night after work I prepare my outfit for the next day, the baby’s outfit, her lunch (which is leftovers from the dinner we meal-planned out on Saturday and shopped for on Sunday), and all of the bottles. I pre-load anything I can into the stroller: spare diapers, a blanket, my work shoes, etc. That way, when something goes wrong in the morning (as it inevitably will) I have already maximized every last opportunity for efficiency and have a few spare minutes to deal with whatever debacle is coming my way.
But sometimes even this level of efficiency isn’t enough.
One evening, I was in the midst of one of my most over-tired sleep-deprived and delirious phases. It was months 7 through 8 of my baby’s life, which corresponded with the following:
- the peak of her hate for sleep
- her all-time-high daily consumption of breastmilk
- a raging cold and flu season
- Thanksgiving to Christmas, i.e. the retail holiday season
And thus the apex of my capacity for stress at home and work. The camel’s back was loaded, we were just waiting for a straw.
Anyway, on this eve amidst the chaos, I made a grave error. The integrity of my bottle assembly was deeply flawed. I forgot nipples. Yeah, you know, the vehicle by which the baby actually gets the milk? I skipped it and went straight to the cap, because obviously my girl was totally ready to chug.
Somehow, and I really don’t know how, I overlooked this not only when preparing that night, but also the next morning. When I packed the lunch bag with all of the milk and food, the lack of nipples, which is very obvious on a Tommee Tippee bottle, didn’t phase me at all. I placed them in the stroller, on top of my work shoes, wedged between my diaper bag and work laptop. I was still living in San Francisco’s Russian Hill at the time, so my commute was bumpy and included a lot of steep declines.
I arrived at daycare still ignorant of my mistake. Until I picked up the lunch bag. Ever so neatly poised at the bottom of my stroller basket were my favorite black work loafers, and one was filled perfectly with fresh, bright white breast milk. The lack of mess was almost poetic, for there was nary a drop of milk to be found elsewhere in the stroller. My shoes are apparently water-tight, a pleasant yet unexpected quality bonus. And somehow the lunch bag itself was positioned just so that the milk seeped out of one corner zipper, straight into one shoe.
I walked into the daycare classroom to find three teachers already present and bustling around. I was carrying the Bear in one arm, balancing my shoe like a gravy boat carefully in the other.
Bless those sweet teachers, they tried so hard not to laugh at me as they assessed the situation. I handed them my daughter and went to the sink and attempted to pour beautiful, hard-earned milk down the drain with dignity. I casually made small talk as I dabbed my shoe with paper towels, attempting nonchalance as I then put the now discolored and wet leather loafer on my foot.
And then I wore the shoes all day, because that’s what us classy working moms do.
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