She and her husband had just agreed to adopt this baby, due May 5, and then received the call Friday: "She's here!"
There was not a single diaper, onesie or bottle in the house. No car seat, Baby Bjorn or bouncy seat, either.
The talk with their four year-old son went something like this:
"What do you think of having a baby sister? Like on Monday?"
The healthy baby was born four weeks early, operating on her own timetable, as babies are wont to do.
My friend has a very responsible job. She is a real muckety-muck whose Plan for April did not involve starting family leave a month ahead of schedule with no time to prepare. She had critical projects to complete, loose ends to tie up, reviews to write.
Cue the work-life balance theme music.
When she started talking to me Sunday night about how she might work one day a week from home during her family leave, I could see where she was coming from. It's hard to remember just how time consuming taking care of a newborn is, even when you've done it before, and it's hard to imagine completely stepping away from a major responsibility, even temporarily.
But it's called family leave for a reason, and I said as gently as possible, "You aren't indispensable, you know." I was hoping she'd cut herself a break and allow herself to focus fully on getting to know the baby, helping big brother adjust, and enjoying this unique time as much as she could.
The saving grace for my friend is her outstanding team. She knows she's hired a great group of people whose competence and helpfulness she can rely on when she's gone.
I was so relieved to hear this. Because being the only person who can do "X" or the only person who knows about "Y" is not only exhausting but reflects poor planning.
It may be tempting to think that your ticket to job security is being the one whom the company can't do without, but in fact the opposite is true. When you hire superstars and mentor them so well they could take over the world tomorrow, everyone looks good.
Babies arrive early, parents get sick, and stuff happens. Any one of us might need to take a month or longer off work with no notice.
When your team can step up to the plate and hold things together well, your previous efforts are better protected and your return to work goes much more smoothly.
Note: This post first appeared on this blog in December, 2006. I'm pleased to report that my friend did take time off to be with her baby, who is now an adorable, spunky four-and-a-half-year-old.
I'd love to hear: How are you avoiding being indispensable at work?
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Flickr photo by kudaker