Brilliant mid-maternity leave idea: The co-worker catch-up lunch

 Thanks to this kind group of work friends for letting me interrupt. That's new mom Lauren, top right, in the blue shirt.

Thanks to this kind group of work friends for letting me interrupt. That's new mom Lauren, top right, in the blue shirt.

Heading back home to NYC from spring break in Colorado yesterday, we stopped for lunch in Denver at the Four Friends Kitchen (cornbread croutons = genius, btw).

As we ate, I noticed a happy-looking group of—what else?—four friends at the next table over. Then, one of them pulled her adorably tiny newborn baby out of his stroller and started passing him around the table and things got even happier. Many oohs, many ahhs. I couldn't help overhearing: The baby was about a month old, and the mom was eager for advice from the other women about how to get a better night's sleep (go figure). As I rudely stared and eavesdropped I realized: Hey, they all have on ID lanyards except the mom, and the lightbulb went on: She must be on leave, and they were having a co-worker catch-up lunch.

And because, apparently, I am now a lady on a mission, I popped right up to interview her.

"Yes! That's exactly what we're doing," Lauren Harrington told me excitedly, introducing her baby Wesley and her colleagues, all early childhood education specialists at the Mental Health Center of Denver. "I wanted to reconnect. They're my co-workers, but they're also really good friends of mine, so I asked them to meet me for lunch," says Lauren, who's headed back to work in a couple of weeks, sooner than she'd like. "But it'll help having seen them," she says. "It's reinvigorating."

Such a great idea.

In my old job, there was an unspoken tradition that new moms would bring their babies in (usually right around 8 weeks, after they'd had their shots). I loved those days, when a beloved colleague would show up, dressed way down, but somehow seeming more capable than ever. Still, when it was my turn, I was a little self conscious about the whole thing, not wanting to be disruptive. That's where the lunch idea is such a great one. Steal it! And congratulations to Lauren and her supportive colleagues. I hope you get some sleep soon!