who knows me better than a stranger?
I took the kids to a barbecue at a friend’s house yesterday afternoon, and a work acquaintance of mine who was at the party told me that she had never realized I had kids. I was surprised to hear it, because I feel like I talk about my kids all the time, and I told her so. Then she floored me by saying, “yeah, I guess I thought you worked too much to have kids.”
I wasn’t really sure how to take it. My initial reaction was to be pissed off–this isn’t someone that I know particularly well, nor do I do a lot of work with her. I sort of joked it off by saying, “yeah, I’m sure the Bee would agree with you.” In retrospect, I’m not exactly sure why I got pissed off. After all, I had just spent the previous three days on a business trip, and had been thinking the exact same thing myself.
There’s a part of me that wants to believe that time spent on the road has no effect on my kids. Then there’s the part of me that knows that when I come home and the Bee writes me a note the next day that says, “I love my mom, she is the best!” that she’s partly doing that out of anxiety. (Although I am, of course, the best.)
I can’t stop going on the road for my job, but I can limit it as much as possible. It’s not that I want to give it up entirely, but I have spent far too much time working this summer. When I got into the kind of work that I do now, I almost always had a slow period in the summer, but lately it seems to have drifted away, and in some ways, the summers are more stressful than other times of the year.
I think one of the main reasons that I was so floored by this woman’s comment was because I do a lot of work with our mutual friend (who was hosting the party), and I spend an awful lot of time saying no to that friend. Over the course of the spring and summer, I’ve been refusing to go to an awful lot of meetings that she’s involved in, just because they happen after the normal business day has ended. I don’t mind working late, but usually it involves typing on my laptop after the kids are in bed, not sitting in a meeting when I could be having dinner with them.