Last Thursday was a nation-wide “Take Your Daughters and Sons To Work Day.” My daughter had off of school because her teachers were doing Kindergarten screening, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to show her just how hard Mommy works every day. I was ready to show her how I clean up after breakfast, go straight up to my office and work on my workshop, my photography, and my other part-time job. I was going to show her how fast I can eat lunch so I don’t waste too much time. I was going to make her help me clean her closet, do laundry, and deep clean the kitchen. I was going to prove a point. To my six-year-old.
But the thing is that I work from home, so she is always with me at work. She’s with me when I answer an email in the middle of reading her a story. She’s with me when I take a call during breakfast. She’s with me when I sit at my computer and edit images of other kids having fun with her mommy. She’s with me when I say, “In a second, Mommy’s working.” And she’s with me when she quietly asks, “Are you ever going to be done working?”
The thing is, I love to work. I’m not really good at resting and I’m not really good at down-time. I like to make sure that my clients’ questions are answered as quickly as possible. I like making my deadlines. I like responding to my students’ reflections and looking at their assignments. But I love my kid. And she doesn’t love it when Mommy is working all the time. I like to work when there is some semblance of balance in my work and life, but when I get busy, everything stops making sense to me. When I get busy, I forget what’s most important.
So I didn’t take her to work. Instead, I showed her what it was like when Mommy DIDN’T work. I played hooky the entire day on Thursday – from the moment that we dropped her brother off at school until the moment they went to bed. No work, just play. Just rest. Just attention to them and nothing else. Midway through our day, my daughter said, “I don’t remember a time where we had this much fun together!” She meant it in the best possible way, but my Mommy heart broke a little bit when I thought about how right she was. I promised her I’d do it more often. I promised her we’d have more days like Thursday when I have a “Take Off Work For Your Kid Day” and remember that every day is not meant to be “Take Your Kid To Work Day.”
I didn’t mean for the day to become a Day In The Life project, but it did. I kept taking her pictures – our pictures – and we kept having so much fun with it that I just kept on going. She never asked me to stop. She knew that I wasn’t taking the pictures for work, I was taking the pictures for us. And we’ve looked at them over and over since then. I’m going to make my kids a book of the day together so that we can constantly be reminded of what happens when work doesn’t get done. I hope it gives me some perspective when I lose sight of the most important things in life. And I hope that it foreshadows many more Thursdays just like this to come.