Man Down! It is Saturday morning and I am at a soccer game when the goalie, the nine-year-old goalie, gets injured. Seconds pass, and I realize that I know the goalie, that I had met him when he was two years old. He is in my son’s class at school.
We had met in our church’s crying room because neither he, nor my son, would sit still during mass so his mom and I had resigned ourselves to attending mass in the crying room. His mom and I became friends and realized that both of our oldest children, a-year-old older than these two year olds, would be in the same class at the same school the following year. We have a lot in common and our friendship has continued on over the next seven years as we attend many of the same events together.
Back to the game…I look up to locate the goalie’s mom, but then I remember that she won’t be there, she is never at his Saturday games. She and her husband, own a a very successful, well-known small business with multiple locations, and Saturday is their busiest day, so they will never be at a Saturday soccer game. I realize, with horror, that I am the person at this game who most knows this injured player. I am imagining myself in the ER with this child and wished I had been paying more attention.
Seconds continue to pass. Guess what? The goalie is faking. Of course he’s faking. He always fakes injuries. Had his mom been there she would have known right away, yet at this moment I feel like his surrogate parent. He stands up and continues to play and I allow my heart to begin to beat.
After some time passes, I see the goalie’s Grandma at the game, she recently moved to town from another state for a variety of reasons which I know all about, because of the community of friendship her daughter and I have been a part of. I am happy she can be there, helping her daughter raise her children by helping out with childcare, and being a great supporter of her grandchildren.
As I reflect on how I recognize his grandma, I realize I know the other grandparents and aunts and uncles who helped raise the children in our community as well. I also know the nannies of my friends who have very successful businesses or careers. Yet, those friends with nannies normally have some type of family support nearby, to keep all the balls in the air and everything moving along succinctly.
This reminds me of attending the University of Chicago’s Booth Women Connect conference, where our popular outspoken entrepreneurship professor, Waverly Deutsch spoke. She challenged us by saying that if we are not married to some man who is “man enough” to step back in his career and to let us take the reins and be the high earning wage earner, then we need to get some help in the home.
She vehemently demanded that we pursue our goals, dream big, and create amazing businesses that are outside of the box and in industries where women are not prevalent. Waverly also explicitly told us all to get some help in the home raising our children, to pay them well, to treat them as a member of our family, and see the importance of raising a child. Because in the end this is all that really matters, raising a child with caring supportive adults. Waverly also suggested that the help reside in the home, that a child having three caring adults raising them never hurt anybody.
While I wish I could be on board with this, I struggle with it and know many others who do as well. Some people don’t want another person in their home. Some people don’t have the money or desire for a nanny. And those same people don’t have family who is willing to live nearby or help out with their children. Yet, these same people want a career. They want to be a great role model for their child. And they want to have more than one or two children. They want a flexible job where they are their own boss. They want to pursue their professional dreams and grow. But, they don’t have the support and resources needed.
So, as always, that brings us back to Community, and why it matters. Why friends build us up. Why friends challenge us to pursue our dreams and help us along the way.
At MalamaDoe’s coworking space, we all struggle to determine our childcare for the summer. We have surprisingly determined that the majority of our children will be in for a few of the same classes at the Shorewood Rec department. We, as a Community, will figure out the best way to raise our children while fulfilling our professional aspirations. That is the beauty of Community.
I talked to my friend Caroline Gatto, the Goalie’s mom, to make sure it was alright that I posted this blog about her and her child and to make sure she was alright with me telling people that she worked on Saturdays. She told me she was so proud she worked on Saturdays, so proud that she raised her child while building a great business. Yet, she also needs help from our Community, the support of all of us, as she struggles to balance work and home. She appreciates our unified voice reassuring one another that it’s ok to work, it’s ok to ask for help, and it’s vital to thank one another in our Community so we do continue support one another.
Thanks for all that you do.