Her Dreams, His Dreams
I attended a barbecue last summer hosted by a couple with a healthy six-month-old baby. The dad, a finance executive, talked about how hard it was for his attorney wife to decide whether to remain at her job. His wife worked from nine to six and then made it home to put their son to bed each night. On Fridays, she worked from home. It sounded to me like she had won the working mom jackpot. Yet her husband was still grappling with whether she (not he!) should continue to work. Finally, I turned to him. “What would it feel like for you,” I said, “ if beginning tomorrow, your entire life centered around Jack’s sleep and feeding schedule—if you just focused on him all day long?”
Stunned, he admitted he had never thought about it that way. Unprompted, he then launched into a description of his wife’s background. He proudly described how she had been class president in high school, on the dean’s list in college, and a starter on the field hockey team. Then she had gone to law school, where she edited the law review. “You’re right,” he said. “There’s no way she could give all this up any more than I could, no matter how much we love our son.” As he subsequently told me, his conversations with his wife from that point on were never the same.