I got an email this morning from a woman who is interested in exploring work with my company. She asked if she could bring her 3 month old baby to a coffee meeting. I wonder if it took courage for her to ask, or what she expected my answer might be.
As often as possible, I want the answer to be yes.
Yes to bringing the baby along — your desire to be present with your kids is part of what helps me know we’ll work well together.
Yes to a flexible work schedule. Yes to working from home. Yes to midday breaks to show up at a child’s event. Yes to some background noise from kids or pets during a call you take from home.
No to arbitrary rules and micromanaged schedules. No to judging other people’s parenting choices. And no to clients who don’t get it.
Although you can never know the way bringing a child into the world will change you, I had a pretty good idea, going into motherhood, that I didn’t want to continue working full time in an office. I had no idea where that desire would take me.
18 years ago flexible work arrangements didn’t exist as they do now.
I prepared in advance for life after baby by talking with my supervisor to outline a part-time arrangement for my role at a non-profit, a first of its kind. Yet even that pre-planned accommodation, with some work at home time and some office days, proved more than I wanted to do once my daughter arrived, so I resigned before even returning to work post-baby and began life as a full-time stay-at-home mom.
I don’t regret even a moment of those days of board books, stroller runs, playdates, and sidewalk chalk — except that they passed too quickly.
I’m grateful that I had the chance to choose between career and motherhood, and grateful that when I ventured back to work I found a smooth path to work that allows me to continue to be a full time mom to my three daughters.
My desire to say yes to others as they pursue both parenting and meaningful work exists because I said yes to myself and my family first.
P.S. My oldest daughter turns 18 tomorrow. Thinking back on the 18 years I’ve spent mothering her, I realize that my role as her mother can be neatly divided into those years without a paying job (her first 9 years) and the last 9 years of my building a business. Both parts of this journey have shaped her life in ways I hope will help her become the woman she is meant to be, whatever career she pursues, and whatever family choices she makes. I hope Cami will hear lots of yes-es as she navigates life choices.