You know that old saying "do as I say, not as I do"? I happen to think that little saying is a pretty powerful parenting ideal. I mean that's hard... but it's something that Bob and I think about. Goodness knows we aren't perfect at it!!! I mean, we are FAR from perfect in general, but this is definitely one of those things that is "easier said than done". Whoa - I'm on a roll... Anyway... one of the things that I hope our boys pick up from being raised in our house is the behaviors that support our core belief system. There's a reason "Discipline equals freedom" is our family motto. We believe you work for what you want and don't expect hand outs. We have shattered most traditional gender roles in the home. We protect those that are smaller or weaker than ourselves. Education is important. Luck is not a thing. Actions always have consequences - and the consequences are owned by the person making the decision. Sounds like a dreadful place to live now that I'm looking at it on paper... LOL We also hug - a lot! So don't go off thinking we are running some kind of unfeeling and cold sweat camp!
I'm guessing that anyone who doesn't read these emails and just looks at the pictures will have the totally wrong idea looking at this picture of a hotel bed with too-soft hotel pillows sent the day after Valentine's Day. This is definitely not an email about romance... it's more about guilt and stress with a good sprinkle of trepidation thrown in for fun. It's also a view that I've seen more in the last few weeks than my own home.
I've managed to get myself in over my head at work - again - and it's lead to one of those HARD working-mom phases of life. I've had hard working-mom phases before - like when you have to leave a 3 month old for the first time. When you have to lug a breast pump to Vegas for a conference. When you miss games and events and milestones... It's the clash of career and family. I'm sure as heck not the first to struggle with the balance - and I know I won't be the last. So I know I'll get through this phase... but that doesn't erase the doubt and anxiety.
I think one of the major contributing factors to the discomfort of this current phase is that all of the different things adding work to my "plate" are also adding a level of engagement and enjoyment to the work that I haven't had in a long time. I'm enjoying my job more than I have in ages. And that should be awesome, but the problem is that this work comes with travel - a LOT of it - and that means I'm exchanging job satisfaction for family time. I HATE that there has to be a trade-off. And I have guilt about all of this! The kind of guilt that wakes you in the night with its whispers.
I've been asked to join a number of different events and training opportunities at work recently. All of these are things I consider to be big benefits and opportunities. I have been "fast tracking" through leadership training. This essentially means that I haven't even finished leadership training 1 and they've pulled me into leadership training 2. There are lots of reasons they did this - all good - but it layers the work I have to do to "pass" these training events and essentially doubles both the work and the time required away from the house. Have I mentioned lately that I work for a company headquartered in Scotland who views the cross-Atlantic flight the same way some companies would look at jumping a plane down to Orlando...
The leadership stuff would be fine, but then I was also selected as a Lean Leader (which is the training I'm doing this week). This is something I'm actually really interested in. I love processes and efficiency and reducing waste. Many Lean principles are easily translated from work to home stuff (sorry Bob... we may have to flowchart out our regular processes) and I just find them interesting. Logistics is probably my true calling, so anytime I can combine what I get paid to do with stuff that I find interesting is a win/win. My company is going through a Lean Transformation that started about 6 months ago. I'm in Lean Leader wave 2 - which means I'm not the first group through this process, but would definitely be considered an early adopter. We've spent the week so far talking about all the work that we have to do to first achieve certification (pass the coursework) and then how we are expected to help drive the change.
Change is hard! Managing people through it is stressful. It's a sorta normal part of managing people in general - because the only thing constant is (everyone say it with me) change... but when the change comes fast and furious, I find myself spending as much time talking my employees and colleagues off ledges as I do getting actual work done. My team just went through a reorganization. My boss left the organization. I have a new boss, new management team, new expectations. new new new. It's all good, but change is hard. I want to help get this organization through the transformation and I really believe I can help people around me to become better, more efficient, more focused employees. I can do it, but it all takes time - which is increasingly difficult to come by recently.
And then last week, 2 days into my week in Scotland, I was presented with a great honor and opportunity. My company participates in and sponsors an executive MBA program with the University of Strathclyde in Glascow Scotland. They select 2 employees to join this program every other year - one from the US and one from the UK. The selected employees get to go through a specially developed curriculum focused on innovation and international business - resulting in an MBA for the 25 participants who go through each cycle. I am starting my cycle next month and will graduate in July of 2021 - just after Spencer graduates from high school. This is not going to be easy - from both a coursework and a travel perspective. I will go to Glascow 6-7 times a year from next month through Sept of 2020 for classes and will have group-based assignments to complete on top of work and home and all that stuff that I'm already doing. I am already apprehensive about how this will fit into our hectic lives...
But I'm also so excited about it. What a great opportunity. Clearly this is one of those things that you can't say no to - even though it was a hard decision knowing all the stuff I will miss at home while working through all this... work. I couldn't do this without the support freely offered up from both my parents and Bob. They all said "we will do what we can to support you" and I know they mean it. Bob is a saint. Really... he just picks up all the stuff that needs to be done and has never EVER made me feel guilty about the things I need to do for my job. The guilt comes from within... and it's pretty significant right now.
All of this is modeled behavior that I want my boys to see, learn from, and expect from themselves and the families they go on to build. I couldn't imagine shying away from any of the stuff going on with my job right now because it's "hard". What kind of message would that send to my boys? I love the fact that they see the support system I have in place to allow me to go do these things. I think it's so vitally important that they see their dad supporting me - and them - because that's what good men look like. Believe me, I understand that the time we have with these boys is limited and it really does KILL ME that I am going to miss more of it, but at the end of the day, we are building men. Men who need to understand what "good"* looks like and then strive to get there themselves.
*This is our version of "good". Mine and Bob's. It does not need to look like your version of good and if you find yourself somehow offended by what we are doing and where we place our core values, that's totally fine. I don't share any of this to make any kind of claim that our version of good is better than anyone else's, so if you feel that way, that's on you. And would lead me to recommend that you spend some time thinking about what your core values are and how strongly you feel about them because if you have a plan that you are executing your plan, then nothing I've shared here should be offensive...
If I miss a POTW here and there over the next 3 years, assume I'm on a plane somewhere... otherwise, come along on this crazy journey with us. I'm sure there will be ups and downs and wins and losses and maybe more than a few tears. But that's life, y'all. Let's pack as much into it as we can!
Tuesday we are off on our annual Buckeye cruise. I'm desperately looking forward to spending more than 5 minutes with my husband. And cold beer. Cold beer sounds really lovely!