I’m about to share with you one of my favorite YouTube videos. No, it’s not a cute baby saying something adorable. It’s not even one of those funny pet video clips. Spoiler alert: it’s serious and it’s seriously awesome.
Quite a few months ago, I watched a few presenters at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival, moderated by TV Anchorwoman, Katie Couric. The speaker who enthralled me by her eloquence, intelligence, and balanced parenting perspective was Anne-Marie Slaughter. She was featured after she wrote a piece for the Atlantic called, “Why Women Can’t Have It All,” which stirred up no small dust storm of controversy.
In this YouTube video, she explains her tug and pull of working for the US State Department while raising two teenage sons. She frankly discusses how she created a work-life balance which required sacrifice, commitment and following her maternal instincts.Gasp! Does anyone talk about that anymore? Do we acknowledge maternal or paternal instincts or are we just in a have-it-all, economy-driven society? When challenged on her choices and outspoken opinions, she granted that each parent should follow their own path, without judgment from others. But in her case, she examined her choices and eventually quit her high profile job because her sons needed her.Gasp, again.
Not everyone has a choice to work or not; that is indisputable. Many women have to earn a paycheck. Their children know it is for them that they make that sacrifice.They are united in purpose. Far too many parents, though, work far more than necessary to buy things that are far less than necessary. Those children also know what their parents value.
What is necessary, then? Another presenter at the conference, Lori Gottlieb, said her research and private practice with families has shown her something about what are the most cherish childhood memories. She revealed, “In my therapy practice, what people say is this: Their fondest memories are playing Scrabble before bed, stirring pancake batter on a Sunday morning, tossing a ball out front, hanging out in their pajamas until noon, and those silly inside family jokes that still make them laugh 20 years later.”
I know this balancing act. I’ve felt this rope of tug and pull. I’ve sometimes even found myself on the end of a frayed knot, hanging on for dear life. It was hard to be a good or responsive parent in these moments. What I want to share is this: whenever I’m faced with a proposition for paid employment outside (or even inside) the home, my children and husband’s needs come first. Our short- and long-term goals are always in view. The sacred stewardship of parenthood directs all our choices. We remember these wise words: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).
I want my treasure chest to be filled with pancake batter, PJ’s and popcorn, Scrabble tiles, warm embraces and long Sunday walks with my children by my side. And chocolate wouldn’t be too bad either.