Day 23,700: How My Office Has Changed.

  When I was a young wife, I had a picture of my honey in my office. It seemed required, not only to alert others that my life had another layer to it, but to reinforce for my hubby that I cared enough to show him off. It seemed important.

When I was a young mother, I had pictures of my kids in my office. It seemed right, not only to keep me focused on the need to get home at a decent hour, but to let the business world know I had competing priorities.  It helped start conversations that were more human, but the pictures, both of my husband and kids, were to keep me grounded.

Our house is known for having too many pictures of the kids all around at different stages of life. When their friends come over, the friends enjoy seeing the little versions of their friends and comment that the house is a shrine to the kids. It’s not said pejoratively, at least I don’t take it that way. And, I wouldn’t care anyway.  I have my favorite pictures and can tell you why for each one.

At home, there are a few – maybe two – pictures of me at work. One was recently sent to me by an old colleague and is historic. It will go in a drawer soon, but has been out for a while to show my girls what I looked like at their age. One is from when I was a young mother and was on a business trip. It’s my husband’s photo so he gets to keep it on his side of the bureau as long as he wants. I have one of him at the same age as well. It reminds me of the guy I first fell for.

At the last two jobs, including my current one, there are no pictures of family members in my office, not even of the pets. I made a decision after the last layoff that work was not home, and I wouldn’t pretend that it was by putting up personal pictures. My office is all business.

All companies like to preach that “our employees are like family.” It is not true. I have met some great work colleagues. I have made some fond, fast friends. A person here or there has become close, but the company is not family. It will let you go the minute times get hard. Family sticks by you when times get tough.  It will wish you well and send you into the world. Family sends you into the world and stays in touch to track your progress and have your back.

I’m not complaining about work. I’ve just become realistic about expectations and better understand boundaries. I’m the person who always brought work home, and brought my home pictures to work.  I still sometimes bring work home, but home pictures stay at home. One arena is personal, and one is business. They are both important, but not nearly equal. And, I’ve stopped pretending they are.

Focus on Common Sense Gun Control: The problem with mass shootings may be that we bury the pictures of those killed soon after we’ve buried the victims themselves. Perhaps we need to keep those pictures front and center to remind us that beautiful children have been and continued to be slaughtered.  They are not our pictures to display, and maybe that’s why we don’t, but they are our countrymen, so maybe we should. When we go to nonprofit sites of those trying to change laws, we see statistics, facts and figures. If we humanized the movement with the pictures of the slaughtered, maybe it would make a difference.