I’ve been stewing about this topic for weeks and weeks and only now do I feel the courage to write what I’m thinking.
Why does having it all seem so impossible? Why is it so difficult to achieve a happy medium where balancing home and career isn’t so complicated and difficult.
I have many friends that have children about to take the leap into the public school system. I warned them all that this is when it starts to get truly complicated. The corporate 9-5 and the school schedules never match 1:1. Yes, there is before-care and after-care. Yes, there are options. Those options don’t dismiss the guilt we often feel as mothers and parents.
I often wonder why I can’t be more like the moms that drop off their kids at 7 am and pick up at 6 pm with what seems no guilt whatsoever. Maybe they just do a good job to hide it. Quite possibly, I live in a world all my own. A world of self imposed guilt. Is it me? Or, are there more of you out there who are just like me?
My husband says it’s about control, that I want full control of everything. Quite possibly, he is right. Quite possibly, he is wrong. Quite possibly, I just want it all.
I’ve dreamt of scenarios where I have the opportunity to speak openly to employers around the world about this very topic. In my dream I stand upon a podium and lecture companies about how they should continue to plow forward in their efforts to drive change for parents who crave for greater flexibility.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently set off quite a debate in the tech world when she told an interviewer that she works a 9-to-5 schedule. She said, “I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids.” She goes on to say, “I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. You can read the full article here if you are interested.
Quite a debate was stirred about this. As an example of one such debate it implies that those that work standard hours could possibly be overlooked for promotion. There were more debates of course , just go on google to read about them all.
You may be surprised to know I think she is full of shit. And I don’t believe she helped our cause any…
I do not believe for one second that she is speaking the full truth. Yes, I believe she may have left work at 5:30. However, did she work 5 hours every night when she put the kids to sleep? Did she lose the ability to enjoy any personal hobbies a result of having to work 5 hours in the evening to compensate for the fact she left the office at 5:30? Did she never look at her blackberry or iphone and respond to conference calls post 5:30 pm? How did she handle that exactly? Did she decline meeting invitations or did she simply ‘propose’ a new time using the “propose a new time” functionality offered in Microsoft Outlook? Was it public knowledge at google and then again at Facebook that she was off limits post 5:30 or was she taking conference calls from the dinner table or soccer field?
(I’m reminded of the scene from the old TV show “Lipstick Jungle” where one of the working moms took a conference call from her hallway closet so she can have peace and quiet). PS… I am quite certain I did that a few times.
My point is this: If you are going to speak the truth, then speak the full truth because I am not the only person that believes you speak only part of the story.
Balancing work and family is complicated and those of us still struggling with this do not appreciate those that make it sound like we are a bunch of idiots.