Making Room at the (Kitchen) Table
By Jacqueline Cox
Today is supposed to be Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day in North America. The concept is to connect what children learn at school with the working world in an effort to enable them to discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life. For many of us, this year, Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day has evolved into Take Your Work to Your Daughters and Sons MONTH -- working at our kitchen tables with babies grabbing at our keyboards and preschoolers building Lego structures under our chairs.
I’ve been operating like this for 31 working days (not that I’m counting!) and it’s been incredibly challenging, testing my abilities and boundaries as a mother and a professional. In fact, as I write this post, I am watching the contents of my kitchen being moved by twin 5-year-old boys into my living room, something prior to COVID-19 I would have squashed immediately. But now I see two brothers working together, giving me a moment to think and write, so I let it slide and choose to deal with the aftermath/mess later.
A major positive to this less than ideal situation is my sons have a greater understanding of who I am beyond the woman who cooks them dinner, makes them clean up their toys and tucks them into bed at night. They see me at my other job, the one I had long before I was their mom. And though you’d think 5-year-old boys would have no interest nor attention span to understand the world of PR, when that laptop opens they are moths to a flame, drifting over during video calls asking, “Is that your boss? Is that one?” while I scramble for the mute button. And the line of questioning continues… “What are you writing? Why are you saying that? What are you doing?” They want to know it all. And, when I can, I indulge them.
If you asked the boys earlier this year what their mommy did for work, they would have robotically said “PR”. If you pressed them further, they’d throw their hands up confused.
Now, they’re asking me…
“Mom, did you get that guy on the news?” pointing to Donald Trump during a press conference.
“Mom, look your client!”
“Mom, what did that lady mean when she said she’d circle back around with answers? What is circling back?”
They also thoroughly enjoy pointing out every time my “work language” kicks in and a choice word or two slips out. Oops!
So though being a working mom during this time can feel so incredibly overwhelming, and some days impossible, I am proud to carry the title. I hope that by having two seats at the (kitchen) table next to me not for one day, but 31+ days watching mom do a job she finds challenging and rewarding, my guys will feel even more enabled to discover their own power and possibilities. And that is something I look forward to circling back around to see.