Architecture has had it downturns and upswings for me over the past 11 years, but at the moment I’m flying high, ending most weeks feeling super-satisfied with the work I’ve done. It’s a good gig. And yet…this gig comes at a cost. There’s a guilt-tax when Juliette has a particularly rough time saying good-bye to me in the morning and I have to thrust her into the arms of her teachers as she cries, “Just one more hug, Mamaaaaaaa!”. I make deposits in the pity-bank most Sunday evenings, when I’d really love one more day with my girl but instead know that we’re facing four days of seeing each other only during our morning dash and our evening ritual of meal-bath-books-bed. The anxiety toll can be steep, as we worry about how she’ll do in her new preschool or if she’ll catch the head lice found in her classmate’s hair. Which leads me to question, over and over again, am I doing the right thing? Wouldn’t Jules be better off spending her days at home with mama?
But really, would she?
I’ve spent the past two and a half years reminding myself that Juliette loves being around other kids and, despite the tear-filled drop-offs, seems to find a lot of joy in the classroom. And as she starts to show interest in what it is I do during her days at school, I’m discovering the added bonus of being able to give her an early glimpse of what the professional world looks like. Which is why I jumped at the chance to participate in my office’s “Take Your Kid to Work Day” – I was eager to show Jules the ropes, to start planting the seeds of ambition.
She clutched my hand tightly as the elevator doors opened onto my lobby on Friday morning, excited but clearly unnerved by the fact that she was treading in grown-up waters. Soon enough, though, she loosened her grip on me and eased into the apparent luxuries office life. I mean..twirly chairs!
Walls you can write on!
A coffee machine full of buttons…
And the fanciest little dollhouses she’d ever seen!
Once we’d made the rounds, I settled Juliette into my desk so that she could “get some work done” while I checked in with my team.
Once she’d caught up on email and marked up her floor plans, we joined the rest of the kids for some pre-lunch yoga and story-time.
By noon, she was strutting down the halls like she actually worked there. If it were up to me, she’d be hired (good thing it’s not up to me).
Juliette’s mind was officially blown when they pulled out the Pirate’s Booty and Capri Suns at lunchtime (serious, serious thanks to the thoughtful folks that made the mundane seem magical for a day!). We chowed down and clocked out.
It was a great morning – completely unproductive, work-wise, but so much fun. Shane picked us up and as Juliette exclaimed, “I was an archi-tek, Daddy!”, my guilt and anxiety was washed away in a wave of pride. No doubt, I still wish I had more time with my favorite little person. But at the moment, this work-life thing feels right. Be an archi-tek, kiddo. Be a teacher or a doctor or a contractor. And be a mama, too, if that’s your heart’s desire. You can do both.