A disclaimer: I value, support, respect and admire all working women. I don't know how they do it all -- and they really do it all -- but this column isn't about them. Instead, it's about this other group we sometimes take for granted: the working dad.
There's no shortage of parenting advice, books and commentary on work-life balance and parenting for working women. There are endless books, advice columns and even forums to celebrate 'the best working mom' in most industries.
But, there's also an incredible lack of recognition for working fathers. In fact, I've struggled to find any meaningful dialogue on the topic.
In my job, I work long hours and travel nearly every week. But that doesn't mean that I don't aspire to be a great father, a great husband and also find work-life balance. Like most working parents, I do what it takes to do both. You make sacrifices, you make tradeoffs and you find ways to do both the best way you can.
For me, that means never missing them before they go to bed. If I'm not traveling, I try to get home in time to at least read a story or lie in bed and chat about the school day. If I'm traveling, I call them from wherever I am in the world, no matter the time zone. On the weekends, it also means full days of soccer practices, ballet recitals or shuttling back and forth to birthday parties and play dates.
And for this, I'm not looking for awards or recognition. I assure you, I firmly believe that working moms definitely carry the larger burden, but still, where is the dialogue around working fathers?
I can't count the number of conferences that I've been to where very successful women have taken the stage and discussed 'just how they do it all' and receive standing ovations for being a working parent. But can you imagine if I stood on a similar stage and discussed the plight of the working father? It's not to say it wouldn't be interesting or even well received, but it's just something we don't discuss and celebrate.
I recall traveling recently and watching from my hotel room a CNBC reporter interviewing Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi, and asking her how she manages being a CEO of a top global company and also being a mom. While well intentioned, I wondered, why don't we ask that question to Bill Gates? He's one of the most successful CEOs of our generation, and he managed both to raise children and run the global Microsoft empire. But, he's also a father and presumably a good one. I'd love to know how he does it... so why don't we ask?
I'm certain many working fathers like myself would like more dialogue and discourse on the challenges facing the working father. I'll speak on behalf of this working father -- I don't want praise, I don't want trophies or awards, but I do think we need to spend more time acknowledging that we do try hard to 'do it all' just like our working mother colleagues. And, we're also open to more resources and dialogue on this topic.
So, on this Father's Day, I'd like to celebrate the working fathers for their hard work and for trying to do it all. While we still have a long way to go to catch up with our working mother counterparts, I'm proud of the emphasis we place, not only on judging our success by how we perform at work, but also how we raise our kids.
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