Earlier this week it was brought to my attention that someone had lodged a complaint against me, for bringing my child to work.
I could go into defensive mode. I could explain how quietly she played, how we were only in the office for a couple hours, how she was on her best behavior.
But that doesn’t really matter. I recognize that my view of my child’s behavior is bias, and my tolerance of what is “disruptive” is relative to my experience. I acknowledge that to another person, perhaps this scenario played out quite differently.
But when we boil it down, there was a young child in a professional setting. One person needed to have their child at work in order to get a job done. One person needed to have quiet to get a job done. The question is not who was correct in their work practice or preferences. The more important question is how do we cultivate an environment that is inclusive and accommodating to the needs of each.
I get that this is a complicated issue, that goes deep…way deep. In the case of family and profession, it is incredibly difficult to generate a solution that meets the needs of all parties, at all times, in all environments. There is too much emotional “stuff” that comes along with either side of the parenting coin, and the careful balance between work and family that we all must consider and maintain. Forcing my child upon others is not going pave the way to resolution (although, it certainly may chip away at the issue to a certain extent, and encourage normalization). But, isolating moms isn’t any better, with documented negative results ranging from an increased incidence of postpartum mood disorders to creating other health issues and professional hurdles.
There was a time four years ago, when I was sitting in a bar and leaned over to whisper to my partner, “I can’t believe they brought their baby with them. I have no interest in listening to someone’s kid whine when I’m trying to enjoy a beer.” The point being, it could have just as easily been me that filed a report against someone who brought their kid to work. Just like it could have been me that reacted to that report with anger, defensiveness, and a snarky response (believe me, I thought of a few).
But reporting and anger won’t resolve this issue. Instead, let’s have an open conversation. Let’s speak with our co-workers, and come up with a plan about how to reasonably accommodate our own needs, as well as those of our peers. Let’s create an INCLUSIVE environment, where balance can flourish. Let’s address these issues with understanding.
And until we reach this point, you better believe I’m going go to continue to force the conversation.