I know I am not the only parent who feels like my work day is a series of fits and starts. I work from home and run my own business. The job never stops. But I stop. Not to take a leisurely lunch or to have some "me time," although I want to. Instead, I stop for my kids many times throughout the day. School drop off, pick up, sports practice, meals, homework, questions. You name it, I do it.
The other night my husband had a work dinner and I had my own Zoom call to lead at the same time. In between the interruptions of the day, I had to prepare my hour-long presentation. It is on those days when I swear that I am not going to get it all done, but somehow a miracle happens every single time. Right before my Zoom call began that night, I dropped off my son at swim practice, rushed back to set everything up, prepared snacks and a coloring station for my youngest daughter right next to me, and hit "start" on Zoom.
During the video call, my daughter climbed under my desk dozens of times to get more snacks and "stuff." She was trying to avoid the camera, but she bumped her head on my desk almost as many times as the number of trips she took. I tried not to flinch with each bump. I was lucky. There were no tears. Just some sad eyes staring at me before she started unwrapping candy, one by one, as if she were making background music for my audience. The highlight of the night was having her climb under my desk one last time to hug my legs before finally falling asleep next to me, all while I presented to hundreds of people.
I used to get flustered in these situations. I would try to pretend I was not distracted or affected. But I was. I would not have even said anything in advance. The other night, I chose to embrace the moment, though. At the beginning of the call, I announced that my daughter was with me and that I was flying solo that night. It was a far cry from when I first became a mom to my oldest daughter in 2005. I used to hide my tears, worries, and childcare woes from my boss and co-workers. I was afraid that my job would be in jeopardy or that I would not get a promotion because I was a mom.
Now I realize that my ability to handle interruptions multiple times in a day makes me a better mom and a better working professional. Being both honest about my situation and vulnerable to my audience has made me feel unexpectedly supported by them. It is a reminder that society can evolve as long as we as individuals can evolve too.
To the parents who are reading this, I hope you see the tremendous talent of being able to start and stop our own lives to care for our children. To our customers, clients, and audiences, thank you for being so understanding. And to the bosses and employers everywhere, I hope you support, promote, and celebrate the many working parents who bring their kids to work, in reality and in their hearts, every single day of the year.