They're there. I know they exist.
I see the closed curtains in the two-person pumping room.
I hear the whir-whir of the other breastpump.
I can tell, sometimes, which pump they're using. I can tell whether they pump into bottles or bags. I know I'm the only one who uses glass.
Together, we flip the pages of our worn out parenting magazines.
Together, we stare into nothingness.
I see the grocery receipts they must be throwing out of their cluttered bags.
I recognize that wrapper -- it's the same brand of nursing pad I use.
I imagine they are missing their children, too.
I'm sure they must be good parents.
I wonder about their science.
Now isn't that hypocritical of me?
The curtain still separates us -- I can't even see their shoes -- but I have so many questions.
Are they postdocs or grad students?
Have they been back from maternity leave for long?
Do they keep pictures of their babies up at work?
What daycare do they send their children to?
Do their babies sleep?
Do they bring work home with them?
So many topics for small talk, and yet the bigger question looms overhead. How do they do it? If they are here, pumping milk, they clearly have priorities at work and at home: how do they stay sane through it all?
Does it ever feel like too much?
Are they sure or do they doubt?
Who ARE these other women?
I wish I knew.
I wish I had an excuse to talk to them.
Wouldn't it be great if the time I waste in the pumping room were a social hour? This would be the ultimate in working-mom multi-tasking.
If only we could all manage not to stare at each other's nipples.
It's probably good there's a curtain.