“It can’t be compartmentalized anymore”

Guessing I’m not the only person with a phone and a partner whose Friday began with the following:

“Fay, wake up, you have to watch this.” As I blearily opened my eyes, for a nanosecond questioning the urgency over a BBC interview, the punchline of the toddler and baby crashing their dad’s workday brought a good laugh.

Now, 14 hours later, there is small part of me cringing as I write this as I can’t believe I’m participating, in any small way, in re-sharing it.  It’s been a while since something non-political has so overwhelmingly invaded my newsfeed-the Kelly dad/mom rescue video is everywhere.

Trailing close behind actual Kelly-clip links are articles analyzing every moment and implication of the interruption. I want to play! So, here’s my thoughts on #BBCDad Day.

Despite the fact it’s 2017, and we’re progressive, and social media offers unbelievable access to people’s personal lives, we’re still, at our core, more comfortable when work and family/life sit in their respective corners. And when that line gets blurred-particularly in a public, or haphazard, unexpected way-its unnerving.  It’s the whole being-in-second-grade-and-seeing-your-teacher -at-the-grocery-store phenomenon.  Or, the flip, it’s seeing your parents at work and being weirded out by their “work voice.” People have jobs, people have families, but we don’t like to see them have both at the same time.

As an avid reader of Laura Owen’s newsletter, I thought she nailed it with this comment: “The video shows how incredibly hard it is to separate your work life and your family life…none of it can be compartmentalized anymore, and it’s often when you’re trying to keep up this illusion the hardest that it comes crashing down.”  Despite our natural expectations to separate the two, in reality, this is increasingly difficult to do.

I can’t overlook the fact that a huge reason all of this struck a cord with me today-of all days-is that today was my last day working before parental leave. Because I stopped commuting 2 1/2 weeks ago, I’ve gradually tapered down from my normal routine.  I’m grateful for the leave, and frankly far too tired to have continued with a normal work/commute schedule, and so the process has been just right.

But still, it’s a moment of change. For the past 10ish years, post-college, my primary focus, both in time and mental energy, is on the “work” side of the ledger.  For the next 4ish months, thanks to California’s progressive policy and a great employer, I’ll have the luxury of focusing exclusively on the “family side.” And then, if everything works out, I’ll have the privilege of being part of the 70% of mothers who work, the 70% of women who, every day, manage both worlds.

And simply watching a 55 second clip of one parent in this moment was enough to make my eyes widen.

So, thinking about the future, I’m equal parts curious and anxious about how it will all go. (And 100% super pregnant. And stir crazy.  All likely contributing to this indulgent level of self-analysis).  Feeling very grateful for amazing friends and my mom, who already navigated this transition, who I can call with anxious questions, and who by simply doing the real work of being a mother and having a career, inspire me to know it will all be ok.

Yet, while I imagined stress when I returned to work this summer, I’m surprised by how overwhelmed I feel at the prospect of not working for the next 4 months.  The last few weeks of working from home-while welcome and necessary-helped me realized that being at home full time, for me, is not ideal. Of course, I’ve loved not commuting. The commute is rough and I haven’t missed it at all.  However, as much as I love wearing yoga pants and soaking up the quiet morning sunshine over tea, 5 days a week of quiet at home makes me a little crazy.  Being around people is healthy, and I’m more productive with a routine and a bit of a grind. (Mostly writing all this down so that when the end of June strikes and I’m wishing I could stay home longer, I’ll remember when I was **slightly** more clearheaded: 2 days a week of telecommuting is amazing, 5 days, too much. You work best when you’re working from home part time and in the office part time. It’s going to be ok).

And, of course, these 4 months will be very full of the very real demands of family life. Perhaps I’m overwhelmed thinking about this because it’s a huge change that I can’t entirely imagine, and that uncertainty is mind-boggling.

Anyway, all to say, I have no profound conclusions after #BBCDad Day, but it just got me thinking about this whole family and work thing.  Curious to see how it all goes, and grateful for the friends and colleagues I can look to for tips and examples of navigating it all.

PS-the baby is due on Sunday. Trying so hard to be patient! Not doing so well. Going a little bananas. Been going on lots of walks-these photos are from the other night, during a walk to UOP.  Really feels like spring!

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