A Post-Maternity-Leave Trifecta: A Goal, Grit & Moments of Kindness

Kris Torres recently tagged us in a post that got more traffic she than expected, well over four thousand views. She was just back from maternity leave when she wrote it, after attending the WorkHuman conference. Many women ratchet back their careers after a second baby; but Kris was in the thick of things, pushing that stroller, smiling at her little boy baby, and soaking in the conference.

Following that energy, we asked about what made her participation with a tiny baby possible.

Kris, first, let’s talk about you. What about you being you made it possible to be at WorkHuman with that little baby?

When I was pregnant, I knew the conference was going to happen and I really wanted to be there. I had a fabulous experience at the conference in 2018; many of the presenters’ books are on my bookshelves. I did not want to miss this year’s conference.

Was it as easy as just deciding to go?

I wish. No. I fluctuated between “I can do this!” and “Who am I kidding? I am insane to think I can do this.”   

That soundtrack plays in many of our heads. But you ended up doing it. Say more about how please.  

Well, again, I really wanted to go. The benefits of being at WorkHuman are many and compelling. And, over the years, I have trained myself to challenge my own assumptions and fears. Certainly there are risks, and good reasons for doubt, and I wanted to see if my worries are as big and real as they feel. When I would think “I can’t do it,” I would ask myself questions like these.

  • Why can’t I do this?

  • How could I solve that problem? 

  • How could I make this work? 

Here’s an example of the conversation in my head, and how the idea of going got more and more doable, and less overwhelming, by looking at the worries and obstacles one at a time.  

“The baby might pick that day to scream all day.”

“Okay, if so, how can I make that work?”

“Well, if I can find a competent babysitter, that will make it easier?”

“How am I going to find a babysittter who is not a nutjob?”

“My sister and her friends can help me find someone competent.”  

My sister, who lives near the conference, posted a message on Facebook and her friends connected me to a great sitter. The alternative was that he was going to be strapped to me, and I would have participated, albeit with more distractions.

That is an impressive mental game. Thank you… I have one challenge to your language. I think of the African proverb “it takes a village” as saying a child belonging, regardless of parentage, to the community. I see some risk in sending that message because that is not what is happening, except perhaps with the aunt. In your story, I see a lot of “It takes a moment of human consideration and kindness” than “help me with my kid.”

Good point. People were kind and proactively supportive. They empathized and acted. Most people just did these small kindnesses without asking… The TSA agent helped me to break down the stroller, which probably took 5 seconds. It meant a lot because I was holding the baby and feeling the pressure of the line of people behind me. The man on the plane, helped put our bag up. That would have been almost impossible for me to do that holding the baby. It took minimal effort and made a huge difference in the moment.

I see these positive gestures as having a compounding ripple effect. Each person made a huge impact and I posted about it because I was so grateful.

Catherine Flavin