The MPAA’s R rating of the movie ‘Unplanned’ might just be backfiring for the better.
The unexpected gift of working from home
My baby girl turns 1 this month. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we waited and waited and waited … and eventually had to take her by force, 10 days past due.
This little girl, our sweetest, chubby-cheeked Anne Thérѐse, has always done things her own way. Applying the label “difficult” to her smallish person would be taking things too far. But strong-willed, determined and … particular … sound about right.
For the first eight months of her life, she struggled with reflux. Unable to sleep lying down, for weeks she snoozed upright on me while I snoozed upright in a chair. While she now manages mostly to stay in her crib at night, the same cannot be said for nap time. These only happen if she is accompanied. Cry it out, you might ask? Why, yes, she cries it out … for 30 minutes minimum before she falls asleep for 20. And food? An attempt to transition to formula was met with a firm, “Nope.”
All this is to say that an already emotionally taxing transition back to work for this working mama has been even more challenging.
Which brings me to our current situation. During the coronavirus pandemic, I, like many, have been working from home. And while I am in no way trying to trivialize the disease or the horrors it has brought with it, this time for me has brought with it an unexpected gift: increased flexibility as a working mother of young kids. Our finicky eater can nurse whenever she needs to. And our finicky sleeper can zonk out on my shoulder while I answer emails and write from my phone. I get to eat breakfast and lunch en famille, and I’m no longer in danger of being late for dinner.
While I miss the water cooler chats and the company of my work colleagues, my breaks now consist of hugs, kisses, drawing pictures of the Hundred Acre Wood and blowing bubbles. I can work on my computer while my son watches Mr. Rogers, his hand reassuringly tucked into my arm. I was able to run in from the next room when Baby Girl took her first steps. Instead of being absent for nine hours a day, I am much more integrated into the daily moments of family life. And I treasure it.
This doesn’t mean it’s all been smooth sailing. I work a lot more at night to catch up on things that go undone during the day, and there was the time my toddler invited himself to guest star as I was giving a live presentation. But these are the trade-offs that arise during this forced integration of family and work life, and I happily accept them.
We are fortunate, and we know it. My husband and I are both home full-time, which means we can balance schedules and take turns. I know this isn’t possible in many cases. I’m also fortunate that my own employer was already generous with trust and flexibility.
But this pandemic is offering a necessary challenge to some of our culture’s preconceived notions, especially in our tech age. Maybe we don’t have to be tethered to our desks to efficiently and effectively get our work done; maybe we don’t have to view careers and kids being at odds with one another; maybe we can work early in the morning or late at night, depending on productivity levels; maybe we don’t have to make that hourlong commute twice a day, every day.
Maybe there’s a better way. And maybe the unexpected gifts of the coronavirus pandemic will help us embrace it.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.