The author with sons Sam, 4, and Jonah, 2. (Steven Ginsberg)

I was due to have my first son relatively soon, and I was fixated on what to do when I returned to work. If I returned to work.

Okay, okay. There really was little question in my mind that I would work outside the home after Sam was born. He’s now almost 5 years old, and son No. 2, Jonah, turned 2 in December.

And I sure did return to work.

Yet here I still am, as always, trying to find that (ahem) balance between career trajectory, my two munchkins, and keeping the house from falling down all while surviving the death of my own mom and being married to a man with a pretty consuming job for the foreseeable future.

I recently came across a short video of Sheryl Sandberg, who may be better known for her working-women advocacy than her actual work as COO of Facebook. In it, she tells us what she for years didn’t have the guts to say out loud:

She leaves the office at 5:30 so she can have dinner with her kids.

I know! Crazy, isn’t it?

This little clip, from a new initiative between PBS and AOL about trailblazing women, has become viral among my friends. Does this mean we can walk out of work at 5:30? Does this mean we don’t have to slink down the back stairs on those rare early evenings so our colleagues don’t think we’re slacking? (Come on, admit it: You do it too.)

What does it say about our society that the COO of Facebook felt she had to hide the fact that she had dinner with her family?

I guess I found my own way to sneak out for dinner those four years ago. I was able to move from a job that required unpredictable daily deadlines and became an editor with Weekend/Going Out Guide. That career move was like a breath of fresh air. The subject matter, the colleagues, the ideas were all new. And I was editing rather than writing, which stretched a whole new muscle.

Ends up, I love the work and I found a way to have a family and a career that worked for my little world.

I’m one of the lucky ones, I know. 

Here’s hoping more employers and companies are accepting of people (moms, dads, everyone) making life work with their jobs. But my sense is it won’t happen without more successful people like Sheryl Sandberg finding ways to be parents and COOs.

And telling the world about it.

Now you tell us: Can you get away with leaving the office at 5:30 every day? How do you make things work — or not work — with, well, work?

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