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You Can’t Lean In Until You Learn to Lean On

Apr 07, 2020

When my daughter was six-months old, I was presented with the opportunity to lean in at work. Having struggled through a healthy, but very uncomfortable pregnancy followed by the most amazing (but exhausting) six months of being a new mom, I didn’t know if I was up for it. But with the support of my husband and the encouragement of my best friend, I decided to try. 

What followed was a no less exhausting, but incredibly rewarding, year. At the beginning I struggled. A lot. There wasn’t enough time in the day. When I was working I felt guilty about not being with my daughter. When I was spending time with her, my mental list of all the things I needed to do nagged me. Slowly though, I learned to lean on others. 

I learned to lean on family. My husband and I are truly partners in parenting, and without that, I couldn’t have taken on additional responsibility at work. I also have a family that never makes me feel like I’m inconveniencing them when I ask for help; even when it involves hopping on a plane (which they have done numerous times). 

I learned to lean on friends. Single friends, married friends, working moms, stay-at-home moms, nearby or trans-atlantic. It doesn’t matter. My friends were the ones that helped keep me sane. 

I learned to lean on coffee and wine - and not always in that order. 

I learned to lean on co-workers. Initially I thought only other moms at my company would get it, but I realized that I could lean on any of them. We were a team and even if they couldn’t fully relate to my situation, they were there to support me. 

I learned to lean on Amazon Prime and Target. Need I say more?

Sometimes you lean on people that you pay and I was lucky that my new role enabled me to afford a little extra support. When life got extra crazy, I had meals delivered. I hired a housekeeper to free up my Saturday mornings for family time. And I enrolled my daughter at a daycare with the most loving teachers I could have ever hoped for.

I learned to lean on Panera and Chipotle and SmashBurger and every other take-out option within 5 miles of my house. 

For me, learning to lean on strangers was the hardest part. But I did learn. I learned to lean on that mom at the grocery store who gives you that small smile of encouragement.  I learned to lean on the Starbucks barista who added an extra shot of espresso on a particularly rough morning. I learned to lean on the Southwest pilot that offered to help me carry my screaming toddler through the airport. 

And did I mention coffee & wine?

I recently took on a new job which I am still figuring out. But this time I feel confident in my decision to lean in, because I now know how to lean on.

Author: Amy Bridgeo

Originally written: 2/3/20