Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve Jobs on Parenting

I’ve been a bit obsessed with Steve Jobs lately but in a weird way. I can’t stop thinking about what kind of Dad he was. In one of the many articles I read about Jobs last week he said he had agreed to contribute to his forthcoming biography because he had been away from his family so much he wanted to them to understand why and know more about him as a person. I found this touching. And sad. He sounds like a lot of the working moms I know. Except that we haven’t been changing the world while we’re at work.

Jobs’s quote has got me thinking about what kind of image I’ll leave behind. What do my kids think about me? They have told me—more than once—that I don’t laugh or smile very much. I realize this is true, but only at home. I laugh all the times with my friends and colleagues. I think I’m thought of as kind of funny outside the house. Why am I such a drill sergeant, focused on getting homework done and vegetable eaten, when I’m with my family? (This question, while interesting, is too big to be addressed here and will be thought about and written about in a future blog.)

My husband has a game he plays with the kids at night. It’s basically a wrestling tickle-fest on our bed; the kids call it “silly something.” If I had a game with the kids it would be called “serious something” and probably involve checklists and bribes.

If I died tomorrow would my kids remember me as a humorless, negotiator of TV minutes and clean(er) rooms? Probably to some degree. What do they actually know about me? They know I was dumped by my two best friends the summer between 4th and 5th grade but that it turned out OK because I met a nice new girl who moved in down the street. They know that I can and will keep a secret (even from their dad if they ask me to). They know I believe in God but probably not all the stories in the Bible. They know I’m a good swimmer. They know I love them all equally but in different ways “kind of like how you like pizza and ice cream at the same time.” They know that most of what I do when I’m away from them,whether it’s work or a run, is important to me.

The good news is I’m not going to die tomorrow so I have time to work on “project smiling and laughing more at home.” I want my kids to know the lighter side of me; this is important to me. I’m glad I have the chance to “tweak” myself. Yet another way—albeit a tiny, tiny way—Steve Jobs changed the world.