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Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Week as a Working Mom

I have the incredible fortune of being able to stay at home full-time with my daughter.  This fact has brought me unmeasurable joy and allowed me to be present for virtually every milestone in her life (most of which I then share on this blog...).  So, don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE staying home with Gretchen, but sometimes... it's nice to interact with the world of adults.

Most moms I know have a similar conundrum (maybe dads do too, but I've only really heard it from moms), I want to be there for my kids, but I really like working/my job/having a life outside of the home.  Then there's the other conundrum that if you choose to work, you are somehow shorting your children a parent, or if you stay home, your identity becomes "(Child's Name)'s Mom" and everything else you've ever known is gone.  Anyways, it's a real pickle.

This is why, when the most ridiculous series of events lead to me being offered a 5-day job in the city, I jumped at the chance.  Even though it involved working at a world congress of Anesthesiologists, a field that I know nothing about, with a group of people I had never met personally, performing a job that I was only semi-clear of the responsibilities - and not only that, I brought a friend!  I turns out that I'm not the only one curious about the life of a working mom, my friend Mary joined me to help with the congress.

So, here's the story: My mom, an avid Packer's fan (as in football, cheesehead, Lambeau Field.  Not as in boxing up your belongings for a move) went to the Packers/Vikings football game last year and met a "really nice" guy while tailgating before the game.  Chris, is the Director of Meetings & Exhibits for the American Society of Anesthesiologists and one of their upcoming exhibits was going to be in, you guessed it, Buenos Aires!  Not just in BsAs, but literally on my morning jogging route, it was super close to my house.  So, my mom took his card, asked me to call him and give restaurant recommendations and other general travel information that I give to people coming to Argentina.  A few months later we started emailing, and much to my surprise, Chris wanted to hire me and a friend for the week - "helping" with the congress.

Me and Mary working our mojo at our busy booth
So, we helped.  We setup the booth, got dressed up, and then spent the following week representing the American Society of Anesthesiologists - which in and of itself is a pretty straightforward job.  The complication came when we realized that this world congress was heavily attended by South American doctors that generally did not speak English - so we became, quite possibly, the most under-qualified and over-praised translators ever.  It was great!  The doctors attending the congress loved us because most of the companies/groups represented did not have Spanish-speakers at their booths, and Chris and his team loved us because to their non-Spanish-speaking selves, we were fluent!  Who would have ever thought the phrase "Si puedo escanear su papel, se mandamos mas informacion de nuestros proximos congresos" (If I can scan your badge, we will send you more information about our next meetings) would come in so handy?!?

Still working...though slightly less busy...
It was incredibly fun, we had a great time meeting new people, working on our Spanish, and generally interacting with the world outside of home.  It was challenging, interesting and completely different than my normal day-to-day.  The best part about it was the incredible amount of positive feedback we got from everyone around us, the doctors, the other exhibitors and the entire group to came to represent the ASA.

The worst part about it was being away from Gretchen - I know it sounds silly, but it was really difficult to be away for that many hours a day when I am used to spending my life in its entirety with her.  I really missed her!  I was sad to come home and only have an hour or so before she had to go to bed.  In this regard, I am glad that this job offer only lasted a few days.  I hope this doesn't come off as condescending, but I have a new appreciation for those that can balance working during the day, raising their children at night, keeping food in the house and still maintaining contact with their friends.  It is not an easy balance, and for those that do it, whether by necessity or by choice, know that I am impressed.

So, thank you to Chris and the group at ASA for the opportunity to work for a few days, thank you to Mary for joining me, thanks to Gretchen and Jon for being rockstars while I was gone, and thanks to my mom for being a social butterfly at a Packer's game.  It was fun, educational and a good reminder that I have skills that range outside of the home.

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