An article about a college professor who taught class with a baby of his single-parent student in his arms got me thinking about my day today:
I woke up and took my daughter to dance class. I uploaded photos from my company’s open house from my camera to my cloud while she danced and my son crawled around an enclosed seating area. After I took my kids to lunch to see their dad, we went to a client’s house so that I could help him work on his executive portfolio. While my daughter watched PBS and my son ambled around his home, we got to work in his home office.
In between laying out the outline of the portfolio and explaining to him the concepts behind the strategy, I was changing my son’s diapers and washing his poopy bottom in the sink because I forgot baby wipes, my client humorously helped my daughter to pick up a deck of cards she dropped on the ground, my son spilled a giant dog bowl of water all over his clothes, and the two were climbing on his garden wall, almost knocking down expensive terracotta decorative pots. His graciousness was not lost on me, and I joked how I sometimes see myself as Erin Brockovich, with a baby on my hip, inelegantly getting life-changing work done.
Some might ask why I don’t put my kids in childcare. Because, in America it’s expensive and time consuming to drive sometimes 30 minutes each way in traffic to drop them off. More importantly, I chose the structure of my work specifically so that I could raise my children hands-on. Do I sometimes wish that I could sit down for just one uninterrupted hour during the day to read and write? Yes. Do I sometimes complain about the inconvenience of juggling my own business and two small children? Yes. Do I regret any of it? Absolutely not.
Fortunately, I have choices and options – like I mentioned in my article about having a nanny in France (it’s amazing!). Nounou was essential during my winning battle with postpartum depression. Unfortunately, many women do not have loving, safe childcare for their children and have to balance work and children at the same time.
If I don’t have the help of a baby sitter during the afternoons, I’ll take calls and meet with special clients in the presence of my kids. I block out hours that I could otherwise be earning so that I can be at home with my kids while Mr J is out of the country. I’ll see clients in my office until 9:30PM at night because most of the time night hours are the only hours I can see clients one-on-one. We don’t have family in the area, nor do we have friends who can watch our children at a moment’s notice. Paid help is all we get – and everyone knows that good help is hard to find.
Fortunately, I have a client base that is close-knit, faithful, and flexible. I’ll work with them and for them no matter their perceived limitations and in that same spirit they’ll let me bring my kids to their homes and offices because I don’t see raising my kids and owning a business as a limitation. While my children might be too young to remember, I hope that they’ll see my example of resilience as a guidepost for their own professional and personal choices.
In this light, I take mothers who bring their small children in with them for a reading. I interrupt them before they have a chance to explain why and say, “No need to explain. Believe me, I get it.”
Life doesn’t stop when we have kids – the whole point of having children is proof that life keeps on going.