Last week was a bit of a whirlwind. I had the flu (a gift from my sweet child), went to a musical (Book of Mormon!), hosted a mini-conference that 75+ people took part in, and it turns out I was named a finalist for a local young professional award (thanks to a thoughtful nomination from a friend).
I’m not writing about it to #humblebrag; I could list dozens of people in our community whose work I admire and who are way more deserving of recognition. It was exhausting and exhilarating and it left me feeling like I need to explain.
Recognition is really nice, although not completely comfortable. The stories that highlight nominees for these kinds of awards don’t necessarily explain how they do what they do. Inevitably, there’s a big team behind the curtain.
Luckily, every single job and boss I’ve held in this city has allowed me to be a master of my own destiny. They’ve given me the flexibility (and encouragement!) to take random meetings, to flex my schedule when need be (I worked 32 hours a week the first six months of Emmett’s life), afforded me great vacation/sick time (yay journalist furlough and higher ed jobs!), and space to explore possibilities. This is so important. If employers want to attract and retain creative, engaged people, you need to give them a leash long enough that they can pursue their passions in concert with their work.
Luckily, I have been able to navigate the delicate tightrope of quality childcare support. My sister-in-law is a saint to whom I owe a huge piece of my sanity. She’s incredibly flexible, patient and I trust she loves Emmett every day while I’m at work like she does her own girls. She’s never going to receive any big public recognition for what she does, but caring for small people is the hardest job. Hands down. (I’m also happy to have joined a great babysitting co-op to fill in for date nights and whatnot, because when you don’t have grandparents in your city, you really need a tribe.)
Luckily, I have a spouse who always encourages me to do what I want. This isn’t just limited to career pursuits, but the soul-recharge that comes with my Friday night book club, or getting away for a bit to take a sewing class or go for a run. And when I’m done doing my thing, he most likely has made some ridiculously delicious dinner, so I don’t have to think about that. Mostly we scratch our heads at how people who are parents ever leave their homes, and then we decide instead of ever cleaning our house, we’ll attempt a family hike. Without this guy, I would spend way, way too much time in my own head. Mostly worrying or feeling guilty about something I’m doing or not doing.
Whether or not I “win” the YP award in February, the fact the I get to go to work in a job I love and live in a community that lets me pursue and explore so many ideas (and embraces me when all I want is to hang out in my sweatpants), is a huge reward in itself.