When my daughter Kayla was three years old, she turned to me and said, “When I grow up, I want to be a Mommy without a computer.”
Reliving those words thirteen years later, they are as painful as the day they were said. That honest expression from a young child might have been enough to make me put down my briefcase permanently. But in hindsight, that comment made me a better mom AND a better employee – and it contributed strongly to the people my children are turning out to be.
Over the years, my children have been able to learn about how my contributions at work enhance the lives of patients. We speak about this daily at the dinner table, and it has fostered in them a level of compassion for others and a sense of responsibility to our community. They have seen that hard work yields achievement and satisfaction. This work ethic is mirrored in their accomplishments in academics and athletics.
Working outside the home is not always easy and there are plenty of hurdles along the way: a snow day on the same day as a big meeting, a call from the school nurse at the same time a key project is up against a final deadline, a school project accidently left at home that needs to be at school IMMEDIATELY! Balancing my professional obligations with my family responsibilities has required me to finely hone my organization and management skills as well as my negotiation skills attributes that have supported my success within my career.
We have all made sacrifices, too. I’m not usually able to take my daughter shopping after school, or organize a spur of the moment play date, or attend every event during the school day. The upside of these sacrifices is that I aim to get the most out of every single interaction with my children. I want to truly be present. I ask questions aimed at learning the details of their day, their friends, and their interests. We all understand that our time together is valuable and when we are together, we all appreciate how precious that time really is. (This is not an easy feat with teenagers.)
Over the years, we have all learned to work together to make sure family supports work obligations, and work supports family obligations. But most importantly, I have learned that there are times for me to be a mom with a computer, and there are times for me to simply be mom. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Andrea is the Organizational Change Leader for Janssen Research and Development, a Johnson and Johnson Company. Outside of J&J, Andrea is a triathlete and recreational kickboxer. She lives in Randolph, NJ with her husband and teenage son and daughter,