Yesterday, my husband and I taped the Lifestyle CEO cable television show, and we did it with our kids at our sides. We waited until the last minute to secure our usual sitter, but she was not available so we were stuck. At the eleventh hour, a next-door neighbor agreed to help us, but since she was too young to stay in our home alone with the children, we piled into the car and went to the studio to tape the show.
Seeing my children sitting just feet away from me as my husband and I taped our television show reminded me that we really are creating the life we love. We are not bowing to traditional notions of what parenting should be like. We are making up our lives as we go along, doing things we love to do on our own terms and including our children every step of the way. The whole experience reminded me that you can either make things in your life the way you want them to be, or you can allow the world to dictate how your life should be.
In other words, you can make it so the way things are is however you want them to be.
Create Your Own Reality
I'm not suggesting that you live as if nothing matters but your own reality. But I am suggesting that you can choose to create for yourself the kind of reality you want to live in on a daily basis.
How I Was Raised
When I was growing up, the way things were was that mom and dad worked all day outside the home. After dinner, my brother and I did our homework and went to bed. In some of my friends' households, dad worked all day outside the home, mom did lots of different things depending on the family's income level and other variables, and then after dinner my friends did their homework and went to bed. All of us were told to finish high school, go to college — and then maybe graduate school — prepare a resume and get a job so we could support ourselves.
How My Parents Were Raised
But my parents were not raised that way. My father's father was one of the first African Americans to be licensed as a master plumber in Washington, DC. He endured discrimination of all kinds as he tried to provide for his family. But if someone's pipes broke, he was the most important person in the universe, so he made a good living going on plumbing calls as they arose and spending the rest of his time at home with his family and doing other things he liked to do. My father learned simple plumbing tasks and one of his jobs as a youngster was to help his father in the family business.
My mother's parents were farmers in rural North Carolina. They owned thousands of acres and they made a good living selling cotton, tobacco, corn, tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers. They also generated income by renting farmland to other farmers. My mother and her siblings rose early in the morning to work the farm, eat breakfast and go to school. (Guess what I did during my summer vacations!) When they came home, there was more farm work followed by dinner and then off to bed. After getting up before the sun rose to pick cotton, everyone was exhausted after dinner. My grandfather designed and built the family home himself, along with the 3 barns that surrounded it, a chicken coop, a tobacco barn and an outhouse.
Somewhere between my parents and me, there was a thing called the Industrial Revolution and it tore a path of destruction right through the family unit. Suddenly, people could leave home and go to a “job” and work for someone else. You left home early to punch someone else's clock (in) instead of your own. Several hours later, you punched the same clock (out), ate dinner, watched the news, kicked it around with the kids for a few minutes and went to bed. Then you got up and did it all over again the next day.
You saw your kids when you were exhausted, and then your spouse after that. No one in your family ever saw you work. No one in your family worked with you. There was a total separation between life and work. (Can you spell “d-i-v-o-r-c-e?”)
Fast Forward to Today
As I started my career, I didn't think much about that. After all, it was the way things were. But as my life progressed and I started contemplating marriage and family, having such a huge schism between who I was personally and who I was professionally began to seem increasingly unnatural. I have spent the last decade of my life fusing my separate people back together again, and not a moment too soon. This is living!
While my husband and I were nervous about having our toddlers on the set, we soon saw that we were fretting over nothing. While our stress level spiked a bit, our kids were so excited to be involved in mommy and daddy's TV show. My daughter proudly wore her Lifestyle CEO t-shirt underneath her dress and put on a crown and way too much of my makeup. My son operated a television camera on his father's shoulder. We were doing what we loved, working together as a unit to take care of ourselves. Everyone was learning something. We were a team, supporting ourselves and having fun. Can you beat that?
Back to the Future
My life resembles my grandparents' lives more than my parents' lives, and my children are being raised more like my parents were raised than like I was raised.
I am so glad to live in an age where we as parents have the option to set up things the way we want them to be and not how society dictates that they should be.
We can have children and still do what we love to do. We can nurse our infants while we email a client. We can fix grilled cheese sandwiches while we chat with a vendor on the phone.
We've gone Back To The Future, and we take our kids to work with us every day without leaving the house. And I love every minute of it!
Question: Have you gone back to the future in terms of how you manage your life? Your household? Your career?