Whether you breastfeed, exclusively pump, formula feed your baby, or something in-between, being a new parent is tough. It's all an adjustment, and when you tack on trying to raise your child and work, things can get that much tougher—especially when breast pumping is involved. While there are laws in place to make pumping at work legal and more manageable, the experience can oftentimes be uncomfortable and not quite up to par with the setup you have at home. And this teacher's story cements that fact.
A mom recently opened up on Reddit’s "Am I The A**hole" (AITA) subreddit about a pumping saga that will leave you shaking your head. "AITA for 'tattling' on my colleague," she questioned, explaining the predicament she found herself in after a student walked into her locked room while she was pumping breast milk using another teacher's key card. And before I get into why the original poster was overwhelming voted to be Not The A**hole (NTA), let me say one thing: You are never in the wrong for demanding privacy, time, or comfort while working to feed your baby. Now let's get to this insane Reddit thread.
"I am a teacher and I breast pump at work because my baby only drinks breast milk," the poster, u/MiddleMathMama, began. "All the people I work with in the school know I pump in my room. When I pump the door is locked and I put a sign up. The only way to get into the room is with a key card. I always make sure to put the sign up because the ONE time I didn’t, the custodian walked in. I take full responsibility. He apologized and was so mortified told the principal himself what had happened (he was not reprimanded in any way). She told me if anything like this happened again, to let her know."
Sounds like a common scenario, right? Well, here's what happened next. "Recently I was pumping in my room and someone knocked on my door but I couldn’t answer," u/MiddleMathMama wrote. "They left and about five minutes later my door opened and a student walks in holding a teacher’s key card. I firmly, but politely, tell him that he needed to leave and close the door."
It turns out that another teacher at the school—Mr. M—had given his key card to the student, allowing him access to the locked room. When the original poster explained what happened to the principal, Mr. M's name came up. "I felt awkward, my goal wasn’t to get anyone into trouble," she explained. "I can assume she talked to him because of what occurred later."
And that's when it gets worse.
While Mr. M did apologize on behalf of the student—but not his role in the situation—he quickly turned things around on the teacher.
"He told me my sign should be more obvious like 'DO NOT ENTER' instead of 'Pumping. Please come back later,'" u/MiddleMathMama wrote. "He said that students don’t know what pumping means. I replied that it doesn’t matter because my door is locked, and the only people with keys know what pumping means. He tells me it was unprofessional of me to tell the principal on him. That a good colleague would have emailed him first and talked with him before involving administration. I tried to explain to him that I never meant to cause him any problems, but I thought it was an issue that needed attention from administration. He continued that he disagreed and that a more experienced colleague would have gone to him first 'instead of tattling like one of our students' (I’m a third-year teacher while he has been teaching for 30 years)."
Infuriating, right?! Redditors, naturally, quickly jumped to the teacher mom's defense.
"NTA," replied one commenter. "Report this interaction as well. Your coworker is deliberately setting up a hostile work environment over a legal work requirement. You are legally protected by law to have a private space for pumping."
"This dude tried to gaslight you that you were the one who did something wrong," another user pointed out. “'A more experienced colleague…' This is typical male coworker bs. A more experienced colleague would know better than to give any student a teacher’s key card. He’s just mad he got called out by the principal." And though we don't know have the other teacher's side of the story, u/MiddleMathMama confirmed: "Based on other conversations I’ve had with him, I do think he may be a misogynist."
The fact of the matter is this: The teacher mom did nothing wrong. A student potentially saw her breast, so it was the responsible thing to do to report the incident to the principal—for her sake, and for the student's. And I'm sorry, but what grown adult uses the phrase "tattling" to another adult? Sounds like this "experienced colleague" still has a thing or two to learn.