Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Babies at work? Please!

Okay, this is just annoying.

I opened up today's Boston Globe to read these scintillating few paragraphs:

SOMERVILLE - One recent morning at the offices of Farm Aid, as managers sat around a long table and talked business, Shailagh Heneghan got cranky.

She squirmed. She grumbled. She made sure everyone knew her displeasure. And so the staff did what they often do at Wednesday meetings: The associate director of the 22-year-old organization held Shailagh. Then the campaign director tucked her under his arm in the football hold. Finally, the operations director lifted Shailagh into her arms.
Can you tell what they are describing? It's a baby at a staff meeting.

This article, strangely entitled Child care bridges two worlds: Employers open the door to on-the-job parenting, describes how some "lucky" moms get to bring their babies to work with them, and try to work with the baby there!

Here's more:
When Matusovich returned to Farm Aid's Somerville headquarters from her maternity leave earlier this year, she did not return alone. With the blessing of her bosses and the agreement of her 11 co-workers, she brought Shailagh, now 6 months old, to share her office. While the baby slept in her car seat or gazed at a black-and-white dangling mobile, Matusovich did her work, sending e-mails, talking on the phone, attending meetings.
This, to me, sounds like hell on earth. I'm all for family-friendly policies, but bringing your baby to work for an extended period of time and trying to work with the baby there? Obviously, this mom has a very different baby from my son. He would stay quiet and happily playing for about...oh... 3 seconds at a time. How on earth would I have been able to work with him at my feet?
Farm Aid, the nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting family farmers, is joining a wave of employers experimenting with "parenting at work" policies that allow workers to bring their children, including infants, into the office. The practice blurs the line between office and home life, and is designed to help parents balance the delicate juggle of those two worlds.
Now, to be fair, the article goes on to describe that this -- the baby in the office scenario -- is a very rare situation, and that most companies allow parents to bring their children in if they are ill, or if childcare falls through.

David Yas, publisher of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and a new legal magazine, Exhibit A, was skeptical about parenting during work hours. Yas, a father of two sons, occasionally works from home but gets less done than at the office.

"The kid needs to eat. The kid needs to poop," he said. "It's a distraction. You won't be doing as much work as you normally do. There's a reason why there are day-care centers. There's a reason there are nannies."

I agree with David Yas. Yes to David Yas!

It may be that some parents are able to work (at home) with kids at home, and some parents may be able to work (at the office) with kids at work. But in my mind, the whole reason I go to work is to get away from home, and to get away from my kid! A change of scenery! A place where I'm not just a food source or a plaything! A place where I'm respected as a thoughtful, intelligent human being!

Bringing baby to work may work for some, but for this mom: no way.


nyjlm said...

*ducking* I took my kids to work. It was not easy every day, but it was the right choice for us. My son started preschool around 3-3.5, two days a week, and eventually went up to three days a week. Otherwise he was with me at work. My dd started full day preschool at 4 (the year before she did 3 days).
Yes, I do work in a business which is in a home, and I work for my dad. That does offer a certain amount of flexibility.
The easiest year was definitely the first year- nurse, sleep, wear in sling.
IMO the US needs a paid maternity leave like most other industrialized nations and onsite daycare.

nachtwache said...

I was a stay at home mom for most of my children's childhood years. When my daughter was a toddler, I started to look after 2 neighbour's kids, eventually I had a full home daycare going. My kids always had playmates and didn't mind sharing mom and toys. I love kids and for me, becoming a mom was a dream come true. As a child I played with dolls all the time and always wanted to be a mom. Of course, when our son reached the teens, I wanted to resign from motherhood :) could have used reform school, but apparently they are against the kid's human rights. Our daughter was hardly a problem and has grown into a confident and hard working young woman. She just got a scholarship, she'll finish school this spring. Our son is still struggling.
I haven't done daycare in years. As my own kids grew, I sort of grew out of the mommy stage too.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the author. I am the mother of 2 (one biological and one adopted at age 4) and I couldn't have imagined bringing my baby to an office. I actually worked at home for awhile (while I went to law school at night) and eventually gave that up because something had to give. I always felt torn between my work responsibilities and mothering. At my law school, a fellow student asked if she could bring her newborn to class and was told no because it would be too much of a distraction to the other students. I was very glad he did, though I sympathized with the mother, it would not have been fair to the rest of us.