She Works Here Too

The first day back in agency life after nine years in corporate was a memorable one. Gone were the black pumps and blazer, the structured bag and the 7:30 a.m. meeting start. A meeting-filled calendar was a thing of the past (or so I thought) and I relished the ability to spend more time doing strategic work for clients – very exciting for me!

They may seem insignificant, but a few things stood out for me on the first few days back. First, I was no longer the only Mini Cooper driver at my place of employment. There were five other Mini’s in the lot when I pulled up. Ahh, kindred spirits! It felt like a family gathering already. Second, there was a welcome sign in the front lobby telling me this would be my best day since my first day of kindergarten. How cool was that? Almost immediately I began to see people that I worked with previously, crazy talented people whom I never lost touch with and admired as I moved through my corporate ‘field training” years. Again, the family feeling was almost overwhelming. Cue your most memorable homecoming song….

And that’s when I saw her. My daughter, my kid. All grown up at 23 and already working at this agency for a year. That’s when the “coming home to family” feeling hit me over the head like a brick. Should I have been surprised? Of course not. She and I had talked about my opportunity to come back to the agency side of communications where she had also found a home. It was a pretty heavy consideration for me at this point in my career – and most likely for her – but she was open and encouraged my career change.

After a few weeks of double takes in the hallway, running into her in the bathroom and sitting in the same large group meetings (she ate all the good snacks), I settled into the fact that this was an overlap in time that was unique and could be a perspective-shifting experience.

What happens when you work with your first born child? You are forced to see them as an adult, not the kindergarten kid who didn’t want to get on the bus (stranger-danger!), not the high school student you taught to drive a stick shift (the Passat was very forgiving), not the college student who co-led a large pep band and flew to Russia just so she could get a minor in the language.

When you work with your adult child you watch from afar and notice how hard they work – and you are secretly proud. You see them build resilience as they problem solve on client requests and challenging deadlines. You wonder if they will ask for your advice – I can count on one hand how many times she did – but you do loan her your favorite boots or a blouse for a client meeting. The culmination of all of this? You learn quickly that you raised a competent, intelligent adult that doesn’t really need you anymore (sniff, sniff), but isn’t that the goal from the very beginning?

Will I ever get to work with any of my other four children? I highly doubt it. I’ll take it for what it was, a moment in time when our paths crossed and I got a precious glimpse of my daughter in an entirely new way, a “recalculating” experience for sure, one of many more to come.

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Pat Burnham

I’m a career communicator looking at life through a new lens after fifty. “Recalculating” is a blog series that will help track and document my age-related adventures, mistakes, celebrations and travels. Since I hit the half century mark everything has changed – the brands of clothes that fit, the measurement of my waist, the color of my hair, who I’m married to (that was a big one), where I live (big one too), who I’m working for (I’ve moved from corporate to an agency). The amount of perspective I’ve gained in the past few years has been massive and I know now that aging brings a wisdom and confidence that I lacked earlier on. So many chapters in life have rushed by me, I am hell-bent on savoring every last syllable of this one. I look forward to sharing my journey so please share yours with me too.

I live with my husband Ross, in Stow, Ohio. We have a combined family with five children and our youngest begins college in the fall of 2017. I work as VP, management supervisor at Marcus Thomas llc.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • This is a great piece. I had never thought about that possibility. Sometimes, when I see my kids work, I see myself or hear them speak to colleagues, out comes my voice. Awesome Pat. I look forward to reading more.

    • Thank you. It was a moment in time – a good one. I learned a lot by watching. Experiences are the best gift at this age. Hugs to you Kim.

  • Ahhh– I only hope I am lucky enough to see my daughter in action in the real world. What a gift you had! That’s pretty amazing and glad to see. Thanks for sharing that moment with all of us!

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