Friday, January 1, 2010

“The Milk Memos” – A Tale That’s Changing My Life

“Oh dear – I’m a mess,” I said to myself in the lightest of whispers so as not to wake my beautiful son tucked into my chest, cherishing the tree frog position before he outgrew it. Warm tears cascaded down my swollen cheeks as I took in every word of Smith and Serrette’s “The Milk Memos,” a smart, savvy, heart-wrenching read focused on balancing motherhood and work. Coined as tell-tale of how real moms learned to mix business with babies, I read page after page of how three women at IBM journaled their way through the heartbreak of leaving their babies, the challenges of nursing and a whole slew of hilarious and heartwarming tales that only a Mom can identify with. Simply put – I just can’t put it down. Though as the book states and as many Moms know, gone are the days when a cold, snow-filled afternoon can be filled with your own agenda of reading. And that’s ok! Here are some of my favorite quotes so far up to page 81:

“For those of us who work outside the home, either by choice or necessity, the day comes when we must kiss our babies good-bye. How do we do it? We walk away armed with our breast pumps, blinking away the tears, and we try to be brave. We tell ourselves our babies will be well taken care of. We tell ourselves the work we do is worthwhile, and that we are providing for our families. At one level, we are relieved to have a break from the all-consuming demands of full-time motherhood. We find pleasure in relationships, the mental stimulation, and the challenges we face at work. At a deeper level, we feel guilty. We know that no one can truly substitute for mommy. No one can ever know or love our children as we do. And underlying the guilt, we feel the longing. It’s like the longing of new romantic love, only a thousand times stronger. So intense that we can’t think about it too long, for fear that our hearts will break and our resolve crumble.”

“Beware: guilt comes with the territory of being a working mom.”

Some of their journal entries to each other:“ …
I never expected it to be this hard.”

“You’ll soon realize that for the next 10 months, you’ll be lugging the equivalent of a car battery to and from work each day…”

“I am woman, hear me Moo!”

“Right now I’m holding both suction cups with my right hand while writing with my left. Another technique is to sit close to the table with the bottles wedged between the table and my chests so that I have both hands free. Another method is to balance one bottle on your leg so you can write with that hand. Proof in point women (especially moms) are superior multi-taskers!”

“The pumps are conveniently disguised as a briefcase for us working gals. Of course, it’s twice as thick and heavy as a briefcase – and I would prefer a more ‘hip’ design (pink polka dots?). But the other day, someone stopped me in t he hall and asked me where I found such a nice leather bag! I thought about opening it to show her what was really inside, but then decided to let her think I was just incredibly fashionable instead.”

“Caleb’s talent is smiling at me. I could spend forever smiling back at him. Isn’t it amazing to watch them learn each little thing? I hate missing even a minute of it.”……”I know what you mean about missing the smiles. Mondays are the worst. Right now my stomach feels like a washing machine on spin cycle. Or a dryer, with tennis shoes in it.”

“I’m feeling totally overwhelmed at work.” It’s sort of like trying to join a sprinting race 10 seconds after the starting gun has sounded. I feel like I’m in last place and there’s no way to catch up because the other runners are all tones and fit, and I’ve been out of the race for 3 months.”

“For years, I’ve been waking up each day and going to work at IBM. Why does it now feel so impossible? What has happened to the Cate who was confident, focused, driven and ambitious? For some reason, I thought I would be able to return to work and still be the star employee while I’m here and the world’s best mom at home. But instead, the mom in me is ever-present and the future executive in me seems to have flown the coop.”

“Someone once put it to me like this – men can advance their careers along a steady upward path. Women’s lives tend to be more seasonal, and this is your season to be a mom. …..Why should we feel guilty about loving motherhood? Immerse yourself in being mom. Enjoy it. Celebrate it. And if that means you’re labeled a mommy for this period in your life, accept the title as if someone just told you you’d been named CEO. You can still be a hard-working, amazing employee who is effective at her job. It’s just a different ratio now.”

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a book to get back to...

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