School gets out at 12:45 this week for parent-teacher conferences – as if the work days aren’t short enough already. Of all of my classes throughout high school and college, not a single teacher covered the mechanics of simultaneously maintaining your professional life and your family life. In fact, I don’t even remember thinking much about it at the time.
I was an architecture major. It was a good, well-rounded degree with emphasis on learning broad topics like Roman History and practical skills like Drafting. I was a TA for Descriptive Geometry, I loved the math in my Structures class, and I doodled my way through European Architectural History. We had one, and only one, class entitled Context of the Profession, which was supposed to teach us how to actually work in the real world. But I don’t remember a single mention of how to pick up your kid at 12:45 and keep your career on track, or how to work long hours and still make sure there’s food in the house for breakfast, or how to divide childcare responsibilities with your spouse.
Are we just supposed to know this stuff intuitively? Are we meant to make it up as we go? I’ve read a few great books like Getting Things Done, Lean In, and I Know How She Does It, but I still feel like I am missing the life skills necessary to balance work and family with grace on a continual basis. I might go through a short stretch of having it all together and then get thrown for a loop by a week of early dismissals.
What does this have to do with Coffee Social, you might ask? Not much, other than that there have been some really great conversations over the past few weeks that I’ve been eager to blog about, but I just haven’t found the time. I keep thinking that if I can discover the right trick, I’ll be able to unlock the secret to professional growth throughout the parenting years. I want to teach my daughter the tools for maintaining her career, but I’m not sure I qualify as an expert. I don’t want her to feel the need to hold back her ambition to preserve her home life, but I’m not convinced we really can have it all. Instead, should I tell her what a wise friend once observed: We can have it all, just not all at the same time. (But then I wonder, would anyone ever say this to their son?)
Published August 19th, 2015
Written by Natasha Juliana. Edited by Linda Jay. Photograph by Michael Woolsey.
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