Life has been small

Flora drew this for me a few weeks ago:

It was a quick doodle, done while waiting our turn at an appointment. Something to occupy her that didn’t involve a screen. She didn’t want me to look at it initially. She had drawn it in the middle of my notebook so I’d be surprised when I found it. 

I couldn’t resist peeking and I looked for it later that evening when she was hanging out with Sean and I was doing post-dinner cleanup. 

The love – and joy – pouring out of this little doodle brightened up my day in ways she can’t understand yet. 

Her mouth is a heart! 

I went up, told her I’d peeked and thanked her for her drawing. I tried not to let her see me tear up. 

Life has been small lately: work, parent, eat, sleep, repeat. It’s still cool and rainy with just enough occasional bursts of sun to keep everyone from losing all hope. I’ve been working too much and feel like I haven’t been doing any more than the bare minimum for my family.

I often feel like I’m failing everyone, and everything, in my life.

Yet my daughter still loves me. So does Sean. They love me anyway. 

And I love them.

And it’s reminders like this that get me through the hard stuff.

And that makes me think, maybe I’m not screwing everything up.

My pictures from yesterday’s #12photos photo challenge

I took these photos for the #12photos challenge hosted by Andrea at A Peek Inside the Fishbowl.

Twelve photos in twelve hours on 12/12/12. I took longer than twelve hours, but I got all twelve before I went to bed. Most pictures were taken with Instagram, but some were done with Hipstamatic. You can hover over each picture to view the caption if you don’t want to click over to Flickr.


7am - on the train going to work #hourlyphoto  #12photos


8am #photos12 artwork on my desk at work (cc sideshowami)


9am #12photos - more desk inspiration


10am #12photos - northwestern view from my office building


11am #12photos - workspace #Hipstamatic #Chunky #BigUp


1pm #12photos - mini Christmas tree


2pm #12photos - cubicle decoration from Flora #Hipstamatic #Hornbecker #DreamCanvas


3pm #12photos - fun stuff in my cubicle (Don't worry. This will be the last pic taken from the office.) #Hipstamatic #Chunky #Sugar


4pm - #12photos - I've wanted a picture of this sign ever since I started commuting.


5pm #12photos - parking lot. Workday done.


6pm #12photos - art on the table next to me.


7pm #12photos - a little late. Almost time for bed.

#12photos, a set on Flickr.

She Wins

I started leaving the house at 6:15am this summer to start my work day a little earlier. At the time, I didn’t give much thought to when I would be both going to and coming home from work in the dark. I just wanted to be done work at 4pm so I was able to pick up my kid and be home before 6:30pm. That part works well, but now that it’s dark in the morning and at night, those early mornings can be a little rough. See this tweet from last week:

Sean and Flora are usually still asleep while I get ready. I usually poke Sean awake enough to tell him I’m leaving, Flora’s lunch is packed, to drive safe and that I love him before I kiss him goodbye. Sometimes I even get a response beyond “mmrphh”. I then go into Flora’s room, kiss her on the cheek, whisper my I love you and leave the room quietly. I go downstairs, grab my bags, turn out the lights I turned on and off I go.

Now that we’re no longer on Daylight Savings Time, we’re all a bit screwed up. Flora is zonked by bedtime and I’ve spent the last couple of days both not wanting to get up, and not wanting to go to bed, so I’m fighting it on both ends. The nights feel so late now that it’s pitch black so much earlier than usual.

Not sure why this extra hour screws us up so much – it’s not like this time change business is a new thing.

This morning I got up and got ready as usual. I was running a little late, but nothing awful. As I was saying goodbye to Sean I heard little feet and told him “we have a friend coming in”. Soon a little girl in a Hello Kitty nightgown came in to use our bathroom. I told Flora I was leaving and that I was late.

She looked at me and asked, “Am *I* late?”

“No baby, you’re fine. Come down with me and you can get a cereal bar and I’ll give you a hug before I go.”

Flora held my hand as we walked down the stairs together. I opened her cereal bar and got my hug. She went back upstairs to talk Sean into some early-morning cartoons. I was doing a couple of last-minute chores before I could finally leave when I heard her yelling something unintelligible at me. On the third time I asked her to repeat myself, she finally said it clearly.

“One more hug mama.”

Like most working parents (edit – like *all* parents), I hold on to oodles of guilt surrounding how I balance my family, my marriage, my work, my life, and myself. We have an okay system, but it doesn’t take much for that system to unravel. I don’t always make the right decision at the right moment. I do what I can to keep as many people at least a little bit happy all of the time. Most of the time, I do okay, but I wish it wasn’t always so hard.

It wasn’t a hard choice to give my daughter one more hug. I need those hugs as much as she does. Those extra moments remind me that Sean and I are Flora’s advocates. No one else will have her back like we do. She will learn – is learning – so much from her teachers and other adults in her life, but she needs to learn how a family treats each other from us. How to form healthy relationships. How to be thoughtful and kind.

And, like it or not, teaching my daughter those things are more important to me than catching the 6:39 train into Union Station.

She wins. She has to.


Work, and life advice I hope to follow

I’ve had this video from TEDWomen on my to-watch list for a couple of months. I finally watched it after reading the Metafilter commentary on it and this New Yorker article earlier today.

This video features Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook talking about “why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions — and offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women aiming for the C-suite”. (Quote taken from TED page.)

You should take the time to watch this whether you’re a woman who works “outside the home”, if you’re home with your family, or if you’re somewhere in between. It’s about fifteen minutes in length.

This video really resonated with me. The three points she talks about are really good career (and life) advice for women at any stage in their career.

It seems that in some circles, there are training programs, mentors and coaching to women (and men) who are on their way up in the business world. These are good things.

What I’d like to know: where are the programs for people (women and men) who are high performers, but not quite management material. The ones who aren’t ready, or (heaven forbid!) don’t have the desire to be in management but want to be high-level individual contributors. What about the people who don’t realize that they would be great business leaders because they are too busy handling their regular job? And because their company is stretched so tight, the powers that be can’t let that high performer stretch beyond their role because they need someone to turn that cog or push that pixel.

How do we develop those people so they feel like they could even climb the next step of that ever-lengthening ladder? Or is the only option that we develop those people so they eventually move into jobs at other companies as the current company simply cannot see that person outside of their current role? How can those high performers help themselves move forward, if being a high performer isn’t enough?

Sorry, I’m getting a little off-topic here.

Another facet of this presentation that impressed me was that Ms Sandberg admitted that she didn’t know the answers and that she was struggling with a lot of the same issues. As a person who has worked as a high-level executive at both Facebook and Google (among other places), I wrongly assumed that she was childless. That she had to sacrifice her personal life to achieve professional success. When she spoke about her children, it reminded me that all parents have the same problems balancing their family, professional and personal lives no matter what their title and salary are. (EDIT: It bothers me that I made that assumption – that the only way to get to the top at work is to sacrifice the rest of your life to your job. It’s unfair to the people at the top and sets unrealistic expectations for those at the bottom.)

I believe a lot of things about the modern workplace are wrong. I’m very intrigued by the ROWE concept. What I’m not sure of is how to fix the workplace to ensure that more people are engaged in their work and producing great things for their companies. I believe that taking the time to think about the points Ms Sandberg makes: staying at the table, owning your success and not checking out before you leave will make me – and anyone else – a happier worker. That will lead to higher engagement and productivity. That benefits company and worker alike.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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