It’s All About Values

It’s hard not to feel envious of those who are lucky enough to work at Patagonia–the company takes an approach that doesn’t simply throw money at a problem, but instead deeply considers what ambitious working parents need to stay committed to both professional life and parenthood. And the company recognizes that by valuing both worlds, they can better retain some of their best talent. Not many companies can do what Patagonia is doing, so most of us will have to envy on, but it’s nice to see a model company where both ambition and caregiving are respected endeavors. (more…)

A Mother’s Ambitions

Ambition and greatness looks different for professionals who dial back after having children. This essay, published in The New York Times set me on a path to explore this issue in greater depth.

“If I’m lucky, I might have as long as two hours to work. I riffle through the stack of research articles on substance use, pull out a few relevant ones, and begin revising my paper’s introduction. I’ve just gotten in the groove when a sweet singsong voice drifts over from the room next door: “Mommy, I have to go to the baaaa-throom!” (more…)

September Dreaming…

September is a joyous time of year for the 39 million American families with two employed parents. With a summer of fractured childcare in the rearview mirror, we breathe a sigh of relief to be able to resume a better balance of family and work life. But just as we feel ourselves starting to relax, it hits us: the school calendar has a slower start than we hoped for, then gets punctured with various “vacations” that go unrecognized by most employers. Then there will be winter holidays and unanticipated snow days, spring vacations. Then summer again. September relief… not so much.

In truth, it isn’t just families with the under-five’s who struggle with locating sufficient childcare to make the professional-family life balance viable. It’s a much lengthier struggle than most politicians or policymakers will acknowledge. (more…)

Work-Family Conflict… And its Prettier Sister

On his second day of camp drop-off, Ali’s 6-year-old balked. He clung to her leg and asked if she had to work today. Did he need to be there the whole day? Couldn’t she come early to get him? He didn’t know anyone at camp and he wasn’t having fun. He teared up as he grasped for a way out of camp. Ali hugged him and said that she knew he could do it and that she would be there early if she could get out of work in time. He watched her go with a trembling lip. She glanced back as she left the drop off area and noticed how much smaller he looked than the other campers. (more…)

Work and Parenting: A Moderation Manifesto

On Monday mornings I cavort with two small superheroes outfitted in bright red capes and felt eye masks. The larger of these superheroes is fast. During a neighborhood jaunt, he catches the eye of a driver at a stop sign and silently challenges him to a race. Determined to prove that superheroes can outperform automobiles, he churns his skinny five-year-old legs as quickly as he can. The tinier superhero tries to keep up with his big brother, committing to the waddling run of a two-year-old with an enormously round belly. The chunky little superhero increases his volume of panting to provide an audible demonstration of his speed, emphasizing it further with a declaration of “super duper fast!” And then the larger superhero scornfully observes that the tinier one could never beat a car. (more…)

Love the Lives You’re In

Let’s assume you adore your kids. Not the detached kind of adore where you show off pictures at your reunion, or which finds you proclaiming them to be the sweetest of sleeping angels. I’m talking about the kind of adore that makes your heart expand with a mix of joy and love when your child firmly maintains that his shoes are on the right feet (they aren’t). The kind of adore which downgrades your fury to mild irritation when a singsong “I’m awa-aake!” rouses you at 5:00am on a Monday morning. It’s the kind of love that makes you want to be present and engaged with your singing alarm clock. (more…)