By: Melisa Franzen
Recently, a Minnesota business woman that I admire was asked in an interview what she looked forward to in 10 years. Her response was, “maybe grandchildren,” because when she had her own children she only took six weeks off with the first, and four weeks off with the second. She further commented that, “women almost had to pretend pregnancy didn’t happen,” and if she got a second shot, she would take that time with her grandchildren. I could not help but feel sad when I read her responses.
Here I am a 35 year old, mother of a six month old boy, trying to juggle two jobs and a family. Well, she also went on to say in her interview that there was no such thing as balance. Here I have to agree with her. I believe in prioritization and in trade-offs. I had a great corporate job before I decided to merge my community work with my career.
Sure I was volunteering on nonprofit boards and leading organizations, but my day job did not manage to marry my true passions, mainly public policy and community involvement. I decided to leave corporate and run for public office. And I did not start at the bottom. I ran for state Senate and won. I also decided to start my own business, a public relations firm, where I was able to directly impact the destiny of my clients. Add a baby into the mix and the result is managed chaos.
I would not change any of my decisions. I deeply love my public service, my business endeavors and my family. What I have grown more and more fond of is the need for flexibility. I am on 24-7 and I like it that way. For those who managed without flexible workplaces and seeing their children only a few hours before bedtime I tip my hat. I am sorry that was your only option.
I hope I can help to change that. Not only by providing flexibility in my small business, but also in my political life to work towards achieving real balance. I do not want you or I for that matter to look forward to grandchildren. I want us to look forward to taking baby Philip to the park after work or picking him up from the bus stop.
Melisa Lopez Franzen is mother of Philip, a Minnesota State Senator, and President of New Publica.