I wrote this post a while ago and decided to let myself cool down before posting it. Sure enough, I feel just as passionately now as I did after Daisy’s birthday party, so, I’ve decided to share it.
After a weekend spent with family celebrating Daisy’s first birthday at an ice cream party we hosted at home on Saturday, I can’t help but hear a certain question I was asked still ringing in my ears.
Our magnificent nanny, Cole, who I consider the third arm of our parenting unit, came to Daisy’s birthday party to celebrate with us (she is Daisy’s best friend, after all), and as I was introducing her, someone asked “you work from home, why do you need a nanny?” The hair on the back of my neck stood up and all I could manage to stammer was “I am in the office two days a week” before I politely walked away with cheeks changing color. Cole, being the empowered feminist that she is, firmly explained what I couldn’t.
I was mad then and I am still mad now, so, I’m going to break it down for all you men out there who can’t seem to understand why caretakers who work from home need assistance with childcare.
“Work from home” is not a code for “I don’t have a job” or “I don’t have a ‘real’ job”. It simply means that I sometimes do work in a physical location that is not an office building. I have a senior position within the leadership of an organization that rakes in upwards of $70 Million per year. I have multiple direct reports which means that I am their boss. Those reports all happen to be men. I am valuable enough to the executive team that they have agreed to accommodate my request to work from an office located in the same building where my family lives on the days that I choose.
The days that I work at home are virtually the same as the days I am in the office. They are still packed with videoconferences from 7 AM til 5 PM with a few meetings late at night for my team in India. I still wake up on time, review my calendar, look at my project management records and prioritize what needs to be done during work hours. The only difference is that my home office lacks multiple conference rooms and a cafeteria where someone else can prepare food for me.
I have a child who is talking, crawling, pulling herself up on things and putting everything she sees in her mouth. In order to keep this child alive, someone needs to be watching her at all times. It would be physically impossible for me to present a win/loss analysis to a team of senior executives while simultaneously pulling Legos from my daughter’s throat.
Did you, sir, ever bring your child to work? Did you present an investment opportunity to the Board of Directors with a kid on your hip who is crying because their diaper is wet? Have you ever tried to assemble a PowerPoint deck for a company meeting with a kid on your lap who loves to thrash the keyboard with her little fingers and drools onto the screen? Did you find it was laughably easy to do your work with your child in your arms? I didn’t think so.
Did you ever work a 24-hour shift, never leaving your place of work? How about for days at a time? Years? I didn’t think so. Well, moms don’t get breaks. It's a full-time job. They live at their job site and their clients n e v e r l e a v e. They are responsible for tiny, accident-prone humans 24/7. So yeah, they need breaks. Nannies are the rockstars who come in and supplement our efforts so we can stay sane and good at what we do. Stay at home moms, full-time working moms, part-time working moms, it doesn’t matter – we all have one common full-time job and we all deserve to have help to keep us from losing our minds.
I am a mother but I am also a professional with a long and successful career ahead of me. My nanny is helping me kick ass at both things. Do not ever, ever, ever again ask me – or any other mother – why they need a nanny. Next time, I won’t be so nice :)
Daisy and Cole's hand at sensory play class