Recently I was on the phone lining up a story via a high-profile PR company when a small moment of joy occurred. As the PR rep professionally dealt with the inquiry, there was the ever-so-clear squawk of a tiny bub.
“Ooh that sounds like a little person,” I tactlessly interjected.
“Yes,” she apologetically replied. “Let me just put him down and I’ll call you back.”
What followed was a beautiful moment of solidarity, as I explained she shouldn’t because I too was navigating this interview around three kids who might interrupt at any moment.
So, on we forged, over a soundtrack of little gurgles, accomplishing what we needed to while navigating family life. In the days since, that moment has made me happy, and looking back it’s not the only one.
Pondering why this small interchange made me smile, I realised there have been countless times over the past few years where children have made a cameo in dealings with successful career professionals (both men and women).
There were the successful start-up guys in Sydney, taking on the big boys and talking global business on speaker phone with their kids chatting happily in the car.
There was the award-winning real estate agent, feeding his toddler yoghurt and pondering the nutrition to mess ratio as he told me the highlights of a stellar career.
There’s the CEO of a national company who occasionally breaks into French to ask her child for what I imagine is “just five more minutes” while we talk content on the days she works from home.
Then there are the meetings I’ve enjoyed, passing pencils to little people as their mums and I nut out upcoming plans.
And I love it. I love that it’s random, it’s real, and it’s downright honest. I love it because it tells me we’re in the same boat and it indicates how far we’ve come.
You can be the head of a multi-national company…hell, you can be the Prime Minister of New Zealand… and chances are you’re conducting an interview with a child perched restlessly on your hip.
That tells me people are pursuing a passion and still making a priority of nurturing the ones we love.
I’ve heard countless apologies as people negotiate with their children mid phone chat, and I’ve made more than a few of my own.
But this week I realised no-one needs to apologise for being a mum, a dad or attentive to their home life while juggling that eternal work/life balance.
Without exception the reality of witnessing the juggle and the balance has elicited greater understanding, empathy and respect for those who’ve wittingly or unwillingly happened to share that moment.
So, bring on the interjections, the gurgles and the squawks – and I say kudos to you, cheers to us all and job well done.
We are not one or the other. Professional does not outweigh parental, career does not preclude carer. It’s the beautiful mix of life and the honest common denominator for us all.
Ah yes, we’re all in the same boat folks, and there’s great joy to be had in the unexpected destinations we reach on the occasions we run aground.
But if you’re looking for my favourite-ever moment involving the random interjection of children, just check out the way newsreader Peter Overton handled this gem involving his children, live on air.
Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer with 20 years’ journalism experience. She loves a good old-fashioned story and getting to the heart of a great yarn. She’s also a mum to three children who have encouraged her to hone some secret skills. Nimbly navigating Lego pieces left on her lounge room floor and creating stylish Barbie attire from all manner of household objects are just a couple of credentials she’s recently added to her resume.