If you’ve ever worked from home, or basically have ever tried to accomplish anything from home with children, then you’ll appreciate the nitty-gritty reality of a recent video from BBC.
The video shows Robert Kelly, an associate professor of political science, discussing some weighty issues about South Korea when his adorable daughter dances in, followed by a baby in a walker and finally, a stressed-out woman, presumably their mother, trying to wrangle them both out of the background of daddy’s big interview.
Some commenters have lambasted this man for the way he kind of pushes his daughter away but, come on, this is real life. He’s in work mode, talking on the BBC, and he’s probably so surprised by the presence of his daughter videobombing him that he reacts in serious, work-daddy mode.
Assuming he is, in fact, wearing pants (which based on my at-home work experience is a pretty big “if” on most days), it would have been great to see him get up and guide the girl out of the room, or even put her on his lap and keep on talking.
Yes, in an ideal world, he would have scooped up his daughter and told how she was the most important thing to him in the world, but he’s a dad, not a superhuman.
I love this video because it’s just so real: the daughter walking into the room like it’s no big deal that her dad is on the BBC, the baby strolling in after Big Sis, and the sheer, unadulterated panic on the woman's face when she realizes what’s happened. I especially love the way she half-crawls on the floor to shut the door behind them like, “Nothing to see here folks. NOTHING TO SEE HERE!”
It’s just so perfect because it’s so honest. I have worked from my home while raising kids for the last 10 years. That’s a decade of tiptoeing the tightrope between being a professional and being a parent. Some days, it’s a circus. I often write with children dive-bombing into the couch cushions behind me. I race the clock during naptime to meet my work deadlines and have more than once shooed a child from a room where I’m conducting an online meeting. I stay up late to grade papers and often open my laptop to find sticky fingerprints on my trackpad and Cheerios wedged between the keys.
We talk a lot as parents about “having it all” — the career, the kids, the promotion and the PTA.
Well, this video is it. This is what “having it all” looks like. It’s a messy, chaotic mix of world maps on the wall and Fisher-Price on the floor.
But you know what? It's awesome that this man is trying. The fact that he even has a home office tells me he’s working at being a dad as well as a professor. And the way his adorable daughter shimmies into that room like she owns the place tells me she is more than comfortable hanging out in daddy’s office on most days. Just maybe not on BBC interview days next time, honey.
I wish more people would be real about what it looks like to work from home. It’s a blessing and a burden. I constantly feel inadequate, like I’m not giving enough to my family or my job. I hate staying up late to meet deadlines and getting up early for carpool, but I love my kids and I love my work, and sometimes I’ve had to work because I love my kids and needed the income. Either way, it’s a balancing act that I constantly feel like I’m losing.
But like this guy in the video, I keep going.
When I was a new mom with my first daughter almost 10 years ago, I remember sitting at my desk trying to do an interview for an article while my newborn baby wailed in the background. I was home alone and kept apologizing to the woman on the phone. Finally, after the millionth time of me saying, “I’m so sorry,” she said, “Don’t be. I can talk through crying. Believe me, I’ve been there. You’re doing fine. You’re a human being and you have a baby. That’s just life.”
Her permission to be a human with a crying baby while also being a journalist doing an interview gave me so much perspective and freedom. I could be both, and I didn’t need to apologize for either.
So to this man on the BBC, keep up your hard work as a professional and as a dad. You’re doing fine on both. Next time, plop that little girl in your lap and show the world you can be just as smart and well-spoken with your child in your arms. You’re a dad with a daughter, and that’s a pretty great reminder that we’re all just human, trying to walk this tightrope the best we can.