Today’s post is an excerpt from my book that highlights the fact that I have the best father in the whole world.

Dad with Matthew


Matthew fussed in his infant seat while I struggled to put myself together. In the eight weeks since his birth, I polled my friends who had gone back to work after having had a baby. Wasn’t it hard? Didn’t you miss them? Didn’t you feel guilty?

Most of them said it was hard at first, but after a while you got used to it.

“It’s so much easier to get errands done. On the way home from work I can pick up the cleaning and groceries,” said my friend Jane, “and it’s good for my sanity. I need the intellectual stimulation.”

I felt plenty stimulated by Matthew, and it wouldn’t be any fun going to the cleaners and the grocery store without him. All I needed was the income.

Matthew was a beautiful boy. His round head had just started to sprout straight blond fuzz, filling in the widow’s peak that he had from birth. His large brown eyes were framed by golden brows; his lips were full and rosy. I loved looking at him, carrying him around, smelling his silky head and kissing him.

What am I doing?

It was 8 a.m., and time for the good-morning phone call from Mom. I hadn’t told her that my job interview was today; if she knew, she would make the one-hour drive so she could watch Matthew for me, and I didn’t want to put her through it. And the subject of my going back to work, even part-time, was a sensitive one.

“If it were me, I’d live in a shack before I left my baby to go to work!” she said whenever the subject came up. She hated my response that “most moms these days need to work, especially in the Bay Area.”

“But you are not most women,” she would say, “and Matthew isn’t just any baby.”

When I told her about the two-day-a-week job for a pharmaceutical company, even she agreed that if I did have to work, this job would be ideal.

Mom’s morning call came while I was fretting over which outfit would best camouflage my huge breasts, especially if they started to leak during the interview. I chose the pink-and-white dress with a stretch waist, and a navy-blue blazer. Matthew, dressed in a brand-new blue-and-white outfit, would be going to the interview with me.

“I just didn’t want to get a sitter,” I told my mom.

“Laura, how in the world are you going to work if you can’t even leave him for this interview?”

“The job doesn’t start for a month. I’ll be OK by then.”
But would I?

Feeling wobbly in my high heels, I pushed Matthew’s stroller toward the entrance of a nearby hotel where the interview was to take place, then bolted for the ladies’ room where I quickly nursed Matthew to keep him, and my overflowing breasts, quiet for the next 45 minutes. Finally, with my navy blazer still askew, I scanned the lobby for a woman with short frosted hair and a gray suit—Phyllis. She put me at ease right away with her admiration of Matthew. She told me she had interviewed a young mom like me the day before.

“But she only brought pictures! What an honor to meet Matthew in person!”

Does the mom with the pictures want the job? Go ahead and give it to her. I’ll be going now.

“Thank you so much,” I said. “My babysitter canceled at the last minute.”

Phyllis told me that their company had started this flextime program for women like me, who wanted to work in a professional job while raising a family. I would be calling on doctors’ offices in my area, telling them about our products and asking that they recommend them to their patients.

“Most women do the job either in two full days, or in three to four mornings a week.”

I’m efficient. I can do it in two mornings. Heck, I can probably even take Matthew along.

The interview went well. I boasted about my education and my past experience in sales and got carried away by Phyllis’s flattery. In the end, I could see that working for this company made a lot of sense. The job sounded interesting, I could work close to home on a schedule that worked for Matthew and me, and the compensation was great.

“Let’s talk about the training,” said Phyllis as I handed her my references.

I knew there had to be a catch.

I wasn’t at all surprised to see my mother’s car parked in front of our apartment when I arrived home. She always had a knack for showing up when I needed her—when the cheerleading list was posted and my name wasn’t on it; in the waiting room of my dentist’s office after a root canal; when I was single and living in San Francisco and sounded lonely during our morning phone call.

“Awww, poor Laura,” she would say. “Let’s go for a walk.”

My car was still rolling when Mom opened the car door and leaned in to give me a hug. Dad was right behind her, smiling, his eyes fixed on Matthew. My parents were in their mid-fifties when Matthew was born. Dad managed a large brokerage firm in San Francisco, and Mom lived for her new role as grandmother.

I walked into the apartment and saw the laundry I had left in a heap folded in neat stacks on the living room couch. Lunch was waiting for us in the dining room, and the refrigerator was stocked with groceries. I had been gone only two hours.

How had they done it?

I filled my parents in on the interview and told them I was sold on the job until I’d heard about the training.

“One week training—in New York! And it starts in three weeks. There is no way.”

“Maybe you can take Matthew with you. Maybe they have helpers at the hotel.”

“I asked, but she said no. She said that if they let one mom do it then all the moms would want to do it, and it would be too complicated.”

We sat quietly, all three of us trying to cook up a solution.

“Or Mom and I could fly back with Matthew,” said Dad. “We could stay at a different hotel. During breaks you could come see Matthew, and you could spend nights with him. No one has to know. It’ll be great fun!”

My mom beamed in agreement.

“You guys, you are so nice,” I cried. By now my pink-and-white dress was soaked with perspiration and milk, but I didn’t care. “I can’t ask you. . . ”

But it was no use protesting. Once my parents had an idea, it blossomed quickly.

“Never squelch a generous impulse!” said Dad. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard him say that, and it wouldn’t be the last.

Day one of the training session ended with dinner in the Grand Ballroom, with the group of twenty or so trainees sipping wine and getting to know each other. Most were women like me—in their early thirties, looking polished in their navy-blue suits, high heels, and oversize gold Monet earrings.

“Has anyone seen Laura Shumaker?” asked Phyllis before giving her new trainees a pep talk.

“She just kind of disappeared,” said Tina, the one with the baby pictures. “Probably jet lag.”

Little did they know that I was at a steak house less than a mile away, cuddling my baby and hearing about all the places he’d been that day with his grandparents.

Happy Father’s Day!!

Read more HERE.

xo Laura

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