A Night to Remember
Earlier this week I attended a breakfast panel discussion that featured four women lawyers at the pinnacle of their careers. They were asked a variety of questions about early mentors, why they chose to be attorneys, things they know now that they’d wished they had known years ago – the typical career questions. The one that drew the most attention was the elusive work/family balance that no one seems to have a handle on, yet everyone seeks. Some of the more interesting comments from panelists included:
“Have back-up for your back-up. I have a full-time nanny, a part-time nanny and a stand-by nanny.”
“I think I became a lawyer because my father was a lawyer and he was never home so I joined his firm after graduating to finally spend time with him.”
“My husband never buys birthday presents…ever. He does, however, bake cakes so I let him off the hook and buy all the presents including my own.”
“If you’re spending time at work feeling guilty you’re not at home and time at home feeling guilty that you should be at work, there’s something wrong.”
Although I laughed at many of the comments, I got hung up on the guilty at home/work statement. As an entrepreneur, my career, self-fulfillment and income are all tied to how well I run my company. There are many times that I’ve sacrificed family or “Mom” time to finish a project, get on a plane, send out a new business proposal or meet with a client after hours because it’s the only time he could meet and I have felt guilty. So even though I sat in gridlockBostontraffic for over 3-hours, when my 10-year old son asked if we could go to his elementary school talent show, I agreed (and he wasn’t even in it.)
At first I was a bit cranky and pressed him a few times to be sure that he really wanted to go. He did and I acquiesced. Americamay have talent, but none of it was on display at his elementary school. I stood in the back of the gym listening to missed notes, painful songs, strange interpretive dances and karate demonstrations. The next act was a girl singing the theme song from Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On”.
I looked over and noticed Laura, the mother of one of my son’s classmates. She usually comes to school functions alone but tonight she was sitting with her husband who has been battling pancreatic cancer since last year. When the girl began to sing, they both reached their arms over the backs of the metal chairs and moved closer together in one of the most delicate, tender embraces I have ever witnessed. Laura put her head on his shoulder and although he was weak, he drew her in even closer as the young girl hit and missed her way through the opening lyrics of the song
Every night in my dreams
I see you
I feel you
That is how I know you go on
Far across the distance and space in between us
You have come to show you go on
I felt my eyes stinging with tears as I watched them silently saying goodbye. After the song ended, Laura took off her glasses, wiped her eyes and she and her husband stood up and left with their son and daughter who had performed earlier in the evening. They had stayed to hear that song.
All too often, we become so caught up in getting through the day or moving on to the next project, or rushing around frantically trying to achieve a work/life balance that we often miss the many moments throughout the day when we can reach out to loved ones, share a connection and let them know they are important. Standing against the wall next to my son listening to his friends perform was my chance for today.
I wish all our readers a Memorial Day weekend that is filled with those moments.