Based on a couple of emails I got this week from my husband, apparently right before bath the other night the kids played a little mini game of "dress up like mommy and daddy going to work". In case you are wondering, I do typically wear more than a scarf, necklace and high heels to work, but I think my son captured my husband's noogler look perfectly.
We talk a lot about work around our house - mostly in terms of who has to go to work (me and daddy), when (now), and why (so we can make enough money to have a nice life, etc.); about how working hard in school and life means you can get a better and more interesting job that allows to you keep learning and growing your whole life; about how their job right now is to learn and grow and play and be curious.
And yet, seeing them so innocently playing the part of "grownups" makes me wonder what their perspective of work really is. I wonder what they think of this thing called work that takes us away from them 10 hours a day, almost everyday, and then pings incessantly into our phones the rest of the time? Words like commutes, and meetings, and clients, and conferences, and deliverables, and deadlines must sound like such mumbo-jumbo to them. They can barely stand to share anything with anybody, yet most days they share me with work, and only every so often do they look up at me with sad eyes and whimper, you no go work today (cue heart-wrenching guilt).
I actually do take my kids to my office on a pretty regular basis - in part so that they can visualize where I am, and who I am with. Maybe doing that has helped them. It has also taught them important lessons like great big glass conference room doors look like extensions of hallways, but are actually really hard when you run straight into them. Things like this are better to learn when you are 2 than when you are 20 (take it from me).
I also bring my kids to the office so that the younger women (and men) that I work with can see what it looks like to have two young kids and a career. I want them to know that it is challenging, but doable, and that they, and all of us, have the ability to chart our own paths in making the balancing act work. In part, due to the Jill Abrasom sacking event, the Lean In / Lean Out debate has been raging again, with a few of the articles I have read recently referenced below, as well my the favorite quote of the whole episode "Lean In, but Nicely".
The Myth that Americans are Busier than Ever
A Life Beyond "Do What You Love"
Leaning Out: Placing More Emphasis on Life in the Work-Life Balance
Editing While Female
Some of this just sort of makes me tired. Like right now, its after 10 PM and all I want to do is go to bed. I guess I started this post to say to my kids - work may seem like this amorphous parent-thief to you right now, but it actually is pretty cool if you do it right, and that is what I wish for you - that you find something to dedicate yourself to that gives you confidence, meaning, purpose, intellectual stimulus and that also leaves you the space and energy to create a full and rich life. If you have that, then you can avoid a lot of existential crises, and, really, who has time for than anyway?
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