This girl. That’s why.
MomLife is Real Life
My real life is not WordPress. My real life is not WordCamp. And there’s nothing wrong with my reality. I’ve cancelled several events over family priorities in the past. Some people in our tight-knit WordPress community think I use my kids as an excuse to get out of things. Wanna know what I think about that? **I honestly don’t care.** Usually those people haven’t done a stand up job of raising their own children, so — I mean honestly now — who cares what they think about my parenting choices.
I know you think your kids are awesome, but I promise you mine are so much more. If you only knew what all we’ve been through the last 5-8 years…. So, when one of them is fighting for my attention, I am very quick to shut down all distractions and give them what they need. This past weekend, it was Claire’s turn.
MomTime is the BestTime
Claire has been patiently waiting for dedicated MomTime for a while. She’s in 5th grade and having a tough year. It really is so important for girls at this age to be able to talk to their moms. There is so much going on in their little worlds and most of the time they just need help walking through it. They just want to know they will be ok. That the social pressures they are trying to manage will get better. That the bullying will stop. That the snotty little girl at school will get what’s coming to her one day. That the boys really are just teasing her because they like her. That kids are mean to each other because kids are mean simply for the sake of being mean. And that they can get through it and it will be alright.
WordCamp + Claire = Tears
When I told Claire that she was coming to Miami with me, she thought we were going on a trip. For fun. When I explained to her that I was working on my slides for my talk, she cried. “Why do you ALWAYS have to work!?”
I do work too much. But…
For the past four years I’ve been hammering out a post-divorce career. It takes time to build a career. It takes time to build stability. Four years is not a lot of time, to me. But to Claire, four years is literally 1/3rd of her life.
So I was already feeling terrible about dragging her to WordCamp.
Mom, I need to talk to you.
A few weeks before WordCamp Miami, Claire came to me in tears. I’m not going to go into all the specifics of what we talked about, but it was clear – in no uncertain terms – I needed to spend some serious one-on-one time with her. WordCamp Miami was booked – and I had finally committed to speaking. (David had been trying to get me to come speak at Miami’s WordCamp since 2014 but the dates were never good for me.) Being asked to speak at the country’s 2nd largest WordCamp is an honor. And not an opportunity to dismiss for no good reason. A **LOT** of work goes into planning WordCamps, picking speakers, setting a schedule, etc. It wasn’t easy to cancel on the WordCamp Miami team but it was just one of those decisions that had to be made.
David was so gracious about it and John James Jacoby hopped in to cover my talk. I’m so grateful for their help in making this cancellation a smooth process for the WordCamp Miami team. I hope that in 2017, I’ll be able to apply as a speaker again and they won’t hesitate to invite me back. It would be my pleasure to come out and talk.
The Crux of the Working Mom
When you’re a working mother, or really a working parent, and faced with a similar situation, choosing your children over your career will always be a super hard choice to make.
Do you shoot yourself in the foot professionally speaking in order to tend to the garden of your children’s hearts?
Yes. Every single time.
Should you let the drama of your daughter’s 5th grade class interfere with your professional community involvement?
Yes. Without apology.
Will anyone’s career be harmed if you put your children first and miss a scheduled speaking event?
Besides yours? (HAHA) Nope! I ASSURE you that not one person was fired because I cancelled my speaking engagement.
Should WordCamps take priority over your duty to your family?
Never. Not one single time.
It was, after all, just a WordCamp. There are others in the community who can step up and help carry the load.
She is, after all, my daughter. I am the only one who can and should carry this load with her. And my days with her are passing more quickly than I can count….
Be In It To Win It!
When it feels like you are losing (professionally) at every turn, just remember – keep your eye on the prize. Just FYI: the prize isn’t the 6-figure salary (those are nice, though). It isn’t community driven accolades (also fun.) It isn’t career titles or milestones.
The prize is found in their little eyes. In their little hearts. In their little worlds. Lean in to those things and the rest will fall into place exactly as it should.
So to all the working moms/parents out there who have to make these same sort of choices – and then feel the professional burn for making the right one – I feel ya. You’re not alone. We’re all out here. Grinding it out, together, even though most of us feel like we are parenting in a silo. I so often ask myself, “Where exactly **is** the Village that Hillary wrote about years ago???”
And this, my friends, is what it looks like to be a #WomanInTech.