Before I had kids, I thought breastfeeding would be easy. I equated it in my mind to pumping your own gas. You stick the nozzle in, you hit the start button, and you fillerup.
The ironic thing about this far-fetched analogy? I actually don’t know what it’s like to pump my own gas.
Here in Oregon, there’s a gas station attendant that comes out to your car and does everything for you. Sometimes, they’ll even clean the dead bugs off your windshield and check your oil. I love living in Oregon.
Obviously, once the kiddos came, I figured out pretty quickly that breastfeeding is nothing like pumping your own gas.
I’ve also grown a profound respect for gas station attendants… perhaps because, on and off, it’s a job with which I’ve become quite familiar. Here’s what I’ve picked up in my on-the-job-training:
- It’s never self-serve. As a gas station attendant, you must be present at all hours of the day (and night). Sometimes you will fall asleep during a fill-up, and that’s okay. But if you go on break, you must leave a filled gas can for the next employee’s shift.
- Breastfed cars don’t have gas gauges that tell you what kind of gas they prefer, when they’re full, or even what the tank size is.
- You need to watch what kind of gas you put in the car. Some vehicles only take unleaded. Think twice before eating that broccoli or spicy burrito. And be forewarned of the exhaust that may come out of the car later on.
- Breastfed cars will often spit copious amounts of the gas back out. (Real cars know better than to do this. There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that come with making that stuff. And, let’s face it, three bucks a gallon ain’t cheap.)
- Sometimes, the nozzle will randomly leak whenever it hears a car drive by. And sometimes it will spew gas in the customer’s eye or all over the attendant.
- You don’t get handed a twenty every time someone comes in for a fill-up. (But wouldn’t it be swell if you did?)
- Breastfed cars don’t pull up to the station, wait for the attendant, and say, “I’ll take 6 ounces or 10 minutes, whichever comes first.”
- Eventually, the cars will stop needing to come in for a fill-up. They will enter into the era of hybrid vehicles and self-serve feedings. When that time comes, you will find yourself out of a job.
And after a long, drawn out weaning process, this is the position I’ve found myself these past few weeks. My gas station attendant – and breastfeeding days – have come to an end.
It hasn’t always been an easy job. The hours can be brutal, and there isn’t an employee manual to doing it right. Let’s face it, the pay sucks.
And despite all that, I have to say… it’s been one of the best jobs I ever had. And one I will miss.