Saturday, September 17, 2005

travelling tots

I've been out of town for work for several days, and finally came home this afternoon. I really missed my kids while I was away, and that was exacerbated by the fact that several of my coworkers brought their kids with them to the meeting we were all attending. Watching other people's kids run around was fun, but it didn't make me regret my decision to leave the kids at home with landisdad.

One of the senior managers asked me why I hadn't brought my kids with me, and I told her I didn't want to take the Bee out of school for three days, which I would have had to do. But the real truth is that I try not to make my kids have a weird life because of my job, and it would have been weird--for all of us--for them to be there.

Since I've been a parent, I've always had extraordinarily family-friendly work situations. When I first went back to work after the Bee was born, landisdad took paternity leave, so we didn't have to put her in daycare until she was 5 months old. Even then, I didn't want her to be in daycare full-time, so I worked out a deal with my boss to take her to work with me two days a week. I had my own office, and I brought in a Pack-n-Play for her to sleep in, and when she was sleeping, I would get real work done. At that point, I worked for a non-profit agency that did both advocacy & provided social services. We were doing a lot of work organizing women who were affected by welfare reform, and most of those women had kids with them when they came in. There were a ton of volunteers in the office too, and by the time the Bee was able to crawl/stand/walk, there were many people around who she knew and trusted.

I was able to schedule my work in a way that I wouldn't have meetings outside of the office on days that she came with me. When I had to have meetings in the office, I had co-workers or volunteers that would watch her for an hour. She knew--and loved--everyone there. There were often toddlers or preschoolers for her to play with.

When she turned one, I decided that it was time for her to start going to daycare four days a week, instead of three. It's hard to parent a toddler and get anything done, and I was feeling internal pressure to be better about doing my job. That pressure was only internal--my boss never gave me one iota of pressure--but it was mounting, and I needed to make a change. So Fridays became our day in the office together, and she would run around and act crazy while I typed or talked on the phone. She still napped in the pack-n-play, and we'd go out to lunch together. It was great fun, but when she was about 18 months old, it got to be too much again. At that point, she stopped going with me on a regular basis. She'd still come with me occasionally, but mostly that was when we had some daycare crisis.

I've changed jobs four times since then, and every time I've had the ability to bring my kids to work, at some level. They've come with me on business trips (although almost always when landisdad has been able to come too), and through that experience, I've discovered the joys & difficulties of parenting in public. It's odd to be trying to discipline your kid while a bunch of other interested adults watch, and hard to have to leave a meeting early because you can't get a willful preschooler to stop screaming about something.

One thing I was reminded of this past week, is that I haven't brought the Potato to work with me nearly as much as I did the Bee. It made me realize that he's almost gotten to the point where I will be able to travel with him alone, without his sister or his dad.

I've got another, similar meeting in a few months. Again, it would require that I take the Bee out of school for two days, so I don't think I'm going to do that. But I just might take the SP...

• Posted By landismom @ 9/17/2005 10:23:00 PM
  2. My daughter is the Bumblebee. My son is the Sweet Potato. You'll have to ask their father.

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