The Joy of Our Children in Business and at Work
During my senior-semester college internship at the New York State Assembly many moons ago, one of my fellow interns gave birth to her first child. Rather than quit college or her internship, her very liberal Assemblyman from New York City supported her in bringing her newborn baby to the office for the last two months of our internship tenure. Her office was just down the hall from my Assemblyman’s office, and she turned one of the file drawers of her wooden desk into a cradle lined with blankets and binkies, as she was also breastfeeding her new baby. She became adept at balancing the baby on one shoulder and her phone on the other, efficiently fielding constituent calls. After a few weeks, the novel arrangement of the new baby and her mother integrated into the daily routine of internship work life at the Legislative Office Building.
It was an arrangement decades ahead of its time. And very different from the exceptional and lone Saturday when my dad and I stopped by his office, creating my vision of getting a job and an apartment at the age of 4; or when my friend Nan and I in 1992 inaugurated Take Our Daughters (later, Take Our Children) to Work Day at our chemical manufacturing plant site.
Since I gave birth to Noah in 2001, he has visited me in my place of employment less than a dozen times – usually, at company Halloween and Christmas events, as evidenced in his first work Halloween party costume at 18 months, as Captain Kirk, below.
As he approaches his 13th birthday, my memories of Noah’s baby- and toddler-hood continue to fade with time, thankfully memorialized by adorable pictures such as the one above. What will always stay with me as if it were just last Friday is the sadness I felt those days when I left for work and Noah was still sleeping; and then arriving home from work that same day, with Noah asleep for (at least part of) the night, missing a whole day of his childhood – as my father before me had experienced.
It’s not surprising then how much joy I derived from my meeting with six-month-old Addy-Kate, CSO (Chief Smile Officer, as designated by CEO Rhea) and her mom Chrissy, the Office Manager at Outspoken Media. As Chrissy and I efficiently worked through our meeting agenda, Addy-Kate (mostly) patiently sat on her mother’s desk, occasionally playing peek-a-boo from behind the computer monitor, all the while efficiently doing her CSO job and warming my heart to overflow in the process. As evidenced by their pictures on Facebook and confirmed by Chrissy, Rhea and Chrissy are two of three Outspoken moms who regularly or periodically bring their babies to the office.
No question: it take a lot of energy to add your baby to the office multi-tasking mix, and a great deal of commitment all around. Chrissy explained perfectly the motivation to make it all work. “I missed the important milestones with my first two daughters,” she told me. “I didn’t want to miss Addy-Kate’s milestones. That’s why I’m grateful for Rhea’s support.”
Not every job or work environment is conducive to balancing our babies and our work. Joel decided to close his storefront, and run The Best Framing Company virtually just before Noah’s birth – babies and broken glass don’t mix well. But where it can work in jobs and work environments like Outspoken Media: the possibilities are, at minimum, joyful – certainly boosting this visiting older mom’s morale even several weeks later.
I can see where the opportunities of integrating our children into business and work can take all of us, especially when I read the recent news article quote of a proud local father, promoting his talented (and obviously, well-inspired) son to take his place as company CEO: “I have all the confidence in the world in him. If I didn’t, he wouldn’t be there.”
What possibilities exist for you to invite the joy of your children into business and work?
Tags: acceptance, appreciative inquiry, business, career, creativity, employee, employer, engagement, gratitude, HR, leadership, mentoring, parenting, partnership, reputation, retention, strategy, success