My kid asked me to help her choose an outfit the other day to shadow her dad in the workplace for Take your Kid to Work Day.
I suppose she could have shadowed the reality show known as What Mom will we have today?
The basic plot line is Mom, anchored at home, poised for pick ups, wallet unloads and meal delivery. Plenty of colour there. Forget fleshing in the years of bouncing my babies between three houses of family caregivers. The evidence is in boxes of old TV tapes somewhere in storage and the world has gone digital now.
I did bring one daughter infrequently into my work in a television newsroom as we needed kids for background shots at times. She was on set with Barney once.
In 1995, I requested a shorter work week when my first daughter came into my life. My job as a writer and producer could be shared, I reasoned. I took my case to top management. They agreed and promptly slashed my salary in half. The network sat at the top of the broadcasting world and could well afford to adapt as banks and other wealthy employers had done for the last decade. Part-time, flex hours, job share; the zeitgeist somehow missed my newsroom.
I was stopped in the ladies room by incredulous colleagues who asked me who I’d slept with to win such a schedule.
I asked, was the simple answer, reminding them of my paltry salary. A sexier story would have worked too—I wouldn’t have to venture far to find them but I went with the truth.
Whispers and rumours of imagined trust funds drifted my way, but I was resolute, heading home daily to our cosy one-bedroom rental.
I would like to think now that it was hard, that I agonized over a long career about to slip away or endured sleepless nights of anxiety. In those first years of balancing work and children, it was the surest step I had taken yet. My work as a writer and producer flourished, my home life a busy hub.
Years passed and new management concluded a different approach to covering entertainment was needed. They ditched our entire department and the sweep started with me.
Would I consider coming back to full time hours? A disingenuous offer, if there ever was one. They knew my answer already. I was just getting to know my two small daughters. I loved my gig and my colleagues but I loved my kids more. So did my partner but his hours were insane. We gulped and figured we’d make it up as we went along.
I left the newsroom, ratings and steady pay and became Mom who writes.
Take Your Kid to Work Day, for this worker, is a day to ponder a thwarted career that no one remembers but me.
No regrets here. We live our lives in chapters and that one, unruly and rich, lasted a decade.
There are others to come. I’m still making it up as I go along but I’ve yet to be bored.
My current gig lacks only flash. I don’t own a briefcase and my hair, unlike that promo shot above, is hardly ever TV ready.
The kids don’t need special outfits to visit my office. It’s usually a mess but the viewing platform is open 24 hours.