Winded, I look up to see I just got tossed by a 12 year old girl with an athletic build on her way to the “free candy” table at my industry conference.
Instinctively I think, I wish my kids were here with me.
But really, I don’t.
For a moment, I think, I really miss my family on these business trips.
But really, I haven’t thought much about them today.
Gull says, Next year we’re definitely coming with you.
But really, I am definitely not sure that’s a good idea.
Of course I love my family. More than anything in the world. They’re a big reason why I go to work every day. So we can afford to live our best life. And come to swanky places like this hotel. But it’s NOT easy coming to swanky hotels like this WITH my family WHILE I’m working.
Why the ambivalence? How could I say no to packing everyone up and bringing them with me to a conference in Florida during a school vacation week? Frankly, because it is simply more work. And frankly, because I prefer to keep work me and home me separate.
It all boils down to the fact that there are multiple Me’s. And they don’t mingle well.
If you ask my coworkers: I’m a thick skinned, sharp tongued, maybe slightly annoying brainiac that breaks into song sporadically, walks around the office sans shoes, and keeps the heater pumping under her desk. I’m a multitasker workaholic with a phone or blackberry attached to an appendage at all times, and I wear my headset- whispering webcast presentations in my ear- to the bathroom when I finally crack to take a pee break. I don’t like to be questioned and I command teamwork or bust. Your typical no-nonsense, ball buster.
If you ask my husband: I’m harried. I prefer organization, and hate losing things. I have little tolerance for anything out of my control. I am stretched too thin, can’t handle the responsibilities thrust upon me, can’t keep track of the calendar, and somehow in spite of that, I am constantly planning things like birthday parties and family vacations (complete with detailed down to the minute itineraries). I want my kids to look nice in public, and I cry when they get sent to school without lunch. I have a to do list miles long, and bark orders at him (which he fulfills pretty suitably). I like quiet time, I like his cooking, I like watching The Bachelor, I like being home. I am pretty agreeable and will defer to him for most day to day decisions (like what’s for dinner, or what movie we should see).
If you ask my kids: They’re the center of my universe. There’s nothing I love more than reading at bedtime with them. I ask entirely too many questions, and tell them they’re cute entirely too often. I’m not around consistently during the week. I don’t take them to their appointments like haircuts, orthodontist, and speech. I don’t make it to many sport practices or every dance or gym class. I insist that they eat healthy, brush their teeth, and practice piano. I implore them to work hard and not to give up easily. I won’t let them quit. I ask them to convince me to agree to their requests (like an iPhone), but I’ll be fair and grant them their desires if they can make a solid persuasive argument.
Clearly these three people aren’t often in the same room at the same time. It would be as awkward as Mary Kate and Ashley working the same scene of Full House (like the episode of the big fat Greek wedding). It’s easier keeping them apart, siloed into their respective roles and segments of the day. Mixing work and family results in short circuit type of stuff and doesn’t bring out the best me at all.
I’m a working mom. A woman who would love to be able to “do it all”. I simply just can’t do it all at the same time. Compartmentalizing the various sides of myself is a much easier proposition. The home me and the work me are two sides of the same coin, but trying to call both would make me flip!
5 thoughts on “How to Mix Career and Family (or not)”
No question, life can be a juggling act. Sounds as if you’re a good juggler. Take care.
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Most definitely compartmentalise. Kids and conferences – never the twain…
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Love your down to earth post. I am a working mom too and juggling the two sides of the coin can best be described as stress, fun, and love. 🙂
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Thank you. And for those who call it a juggling act, I’ve never been very good at balancing! So I approach it in a similarly clumsy way! What strategies do you use?