I'm Leah, and in a lucky twist of fate, I've landed my three dream jobs:
book editor, writer, and mother. Since having my son in December 2008, my
work-life has been in constant flux - full-time? part-time? freelance?
working at home or in the office? It depends on the day and which way the
wind is blowing - and figuring out how to keep it all going is a constant
challenge. Heck, I'm still getting used to the idea of being someone's
Check out my profile on Work It, Mom! and my personal blog, A Girl and a Boy.
My mom has a bit of a wild streak. “I wish I could dye my hair purple,” she confesses. It goes without saying that a fifty-something nursing supervisor talking to a bereaved family about organ donation in a conservative suburb would not pass muster with lavender locks, and so we go without saying it. When she retires, though, look out.
Now that I work from home 100 percent, I could so dye my hair purple. I could dye it rainbow colors, pierce my face all over, and wear a giant banana costume during my next conference call. I don’t, of course (too much work!)–most days you’ll find me in some combination of jeans and a T-shirt, workout clothes, and p.j.s–and the most adventurous my style gets is when I buy bright green nail polish that matches exactly nothing but makes my four-year-old squeal with delight and ask if I’ll paint his nails too. It’s as exciting as a cornfield around here.
Although I’m certainly not a woman known first and foremost for her style, I do have fun experimenting with fashion and I do sort of miss having the opportunity to put together an outfit in the morning and then actually, you know, wear it somewhere people will see it (and maybe even care). The feeling is never so pronounced as when I go out with friends for mid-week, after-work dinner and drinks. I spend days picking an outfit and hours getting gussied in my finest array and then I devote the evening to admiring the professional attire (and jewelry and hair and makeup) of all those hip, young career women with offices in the city and commutes on public transportation and regular contact with stylish coworkers and stylish strangers whose appreciation for a cool new nail polish may not match my son’s in enthusiasm yet surpasses his in authority. (Sorry, son.)
I wouldn’t give up my current job situation for the chance at a few murmurs of adult approval when I wear a new pair of shoes, but, as shallow a complaint as it is, it’s still something I miss. I’m well aware that there are plenty of workplaces where I wouldn’t be allowed to paint my fingernails bright green (or dye my hair purple), and many other places where I’d feel just as out of place if I weren’t styled to the nines in the latest trends every single day. In fact, in the latter environment, I bet I’d spend a lot of time cringing like the country bumpkin who has prepared for her big trip to the city by studying the pages of a style magazine from two years ago and strides into the office wearing head-to-toe Missoni for Target, which she finds out soon enough was, like, sooooooo 2011. Then again, maybe if I were surrounded by fashionable people every day I’d step it up and be a total fashion plate. (But probably not.)
When I dwell on the subject, I start to suspect my Have-Not feeling is actually a Grass-Is-Greener feeling, i.e., my side of the fence feels less-than only because it’s my side of the fence. So I’m curious: Do you get to express your personal style at work? Do you get to have fun with fashion within a professional environment, or are you stuck in business casual beige day after day? If you have super stylish coworkers, do you consider them inspirational or a source of extra pressure? Do you think my grass is actually greener as you wish you could work in yoga pants/purple hair/a banana costume instead? (I am assuming none of you works in a banana costume already, although I would love to be wrong about that.)
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