TYDTW, the day out of the classroom and into the office, now officially includes “our Sons” and for me, an alumna of the effort, feminist and working mother, it doesn’t work.
Would I love to have a show-and-tell with my 18-month-old at my family-friendly office? Sure, maybe for 10 minutes. But he doesn’t belong on my work time and more importantly, I’m realizing my work doesn’t belong on his time, either.
I’m hereby rebranding “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work” to “Leave Your Job at Work” Day. It won’t be easy, but it will be important.
Does the amount of time mothers spend with children or adolescents matter? The study by the same name in the Journal of Marriage and Family says NO. It asserts that the quality of the time spent together is more significantly impactful than the amount.
Today, and for the foreseeable future, the most valuable thing I can give my child is my time. Instead of going to work together, we’re celebrating by not bringing work home. This doesn’t diminish my professional identity. This promotes that, at the end of the day, all we have is our limited time and at the end of this day, when I leave my office on April 23, I’m giving it to my child.
I have no doubt that my son knows, or will know, that I work (hard), manage (a lot of) responsibilities and (attempt to) balance a life at home. We celebrate wins and figure out challenges. The truth, though, is I bring my work home often: reading e-mail from a phone while he reads about “schlop” and commenting with a red pen while he colors with a green crayon. I’m doing the work with or without the workplace.
I’ve taken active steps to be more present, but it takes effort to not do work. And, I’ve also learned my red pen stays on the paper; my son’s green crayon somehow makes it to the wall.
Previously, the distance between home and career made taking your daughter to work a worthy and noble step forward in the very important search for equality. However, in the 22 years since, our interconnectedness has narrowed the work-life bridge and what was necessity then, may not be now, at least not in the same way.
For my son, I am one of his two most valued employees and real success at this job is showing up and signing off. And so, for at least one day, I will.
Carly Lundy Schacknies, Director of Marketing and Communication for an international youth nonprofit, lives in Arlington with her husband and son and lots of Magic Erasers.
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