Okay, here’s a confession from deep within: I’ve always snickered a little at the concept of “work-life balance.” As a working parent of a pre-schooler and now of an infant too, I must admit this term conjured up an image in my head of that old game “Don’t Tip the Waiter” where you keep adding cards to each side of the doll and try not to be the player that makes him lose his balance. I always felt like the more appropriate term was “work-life juggle.” At times, it seems like there’s so much to do at work and at times there’s so much to do at home that you just keep going and hope you don’t drop any balls in your juggling act.
Well, here’s another confession- I recently DID drop one of those figurative balls – and it was a big, heavy one. A few weeks ago, I took the girls to school in the morning and noticed something odd –apparently all of the parents forgot to dress their kids that day. I mean, really, how could you possibly forget to change your kids out of their pajamas (snicker, snicker!). Even I couldn’t manage to forget something so obvious. Wheew, thank goodness I’ve got MY act together. My heart went out to all of these other poor parents- they must have even more going on in their lives than me to forget such a thing.
Continuing down the hall to Punkin’s classroom I was feeling good that I had it all together. As we walked, I continued to review my mental checklist just to make myself feel even better that I was soooo on the ball. Bottles? Check. Diapers? Check. Coat, hat, gloves? Check. Hmmm. That’s odd. How could ALL of the other parents have forgotten to dress their kids today? And there it was. (Gulp!) As I took Punkin’ Bear’s coat off and put it on her hook, I saw hidden behind layers and layers of other kid’s coats, a teeny, tiny little note announcing that today was Pajama Day. Uh oh.
Looking around, I just couldn’t get over how no other parents missed that teeny tiny little note (okay, okay, so maybe it wasn’t as tiny or as hidden as I seem to recollect). Punkin’ was the ONLY one in the entire class without pajamas on. In fact, I’m pretty sure she and Bug were the only ones in the entire school not in pajamas! Sigghhh. So there I was, feeling so sad and guilty that my girls were going to miss out on their first pajama day. But I just didn’t have time to go back home, get the pajamas and still make it into the office on time for my first meeting of the day. More guilt, more guilt.
As I made it into the office with my heavy heart, I shared this awful parental misgiving with my manager; really just hoping that getting the confession off my chest would help me feel better and allow me to focus before we started our meeting. Then, a surprising thing happened- before I was even done telling my story, my manager had his coat in hand and said “Let’s go! We can’t let Punkin’ Bear be the only kid at school without pajamas on pajama day -that’s devastating! We’ll just have our meeting in your car while we go grab the PJs and take them to school.” Really?! Wow. I was AMAZED that a manager could be so understanding and compassionate. I tried to mumble an “Oh, that’s okay. Thanks for the offer…” but, thankfully, he was adamant.
And so, off we went. We were able to have our scheduled discussion in the car, en route to dropping off the pajamas (and it was surprisingly more productive given we didn’t have anything else like emails, phones, etc to distract us!). I not only got to introduce the girls to my manager, but also got to see the smile on Punkin’s face AND accomplish what I needed to accomplish for work. Truly, this was a new twist on my definition of work-life balance. And truly, I’m so lucky to work for an organization that really adds meaning to the term, not just on paper, but by carrying it out through the small things -like having a mobile meeting to help accommodate pajama day!