This was always one of my default "why I work" reasons (aside from, you know, the paycheck and the free Keurig coffee). It reassured me, as I kissed my baby goodbye in the morning, to think: He'll do this himself one day. He'll see that hard work is good and worthwhile and fulfilling. I still believe all of that setting-a-good-example stuff, but my friend Allison—one of the hardest working and most fulfilled workers I know—made me do a bit of a re-think. I was reading back through the transcript of my interview with her for the book. Listen to this bit:
Lauren: What about the example that your working sets for your boys?
Allison: But I don't work because of the example it sets for my boys.
Lauren: Wait, really?
Allison: I don't think it sets any different an example whether you work or stay home. I work because it makes me happier every day. I think once you wrestle with that and make that realization and get comfortable with it, it is no longer a choice. I am a much happier person because I have the intellectual challenge of work. I know that this is the right choice for me. I have no idea if it's better for society, or better for kids, to have mothers who work full-time. But I know it's better for me, and for my family. We are all much happier because I work.
Huh. That was eye-opening to me. I think we're both right, actually. Like Allison, I work because it makes me happy and fulfilled. And that's the example I want to set for my children: Do the thing—even if it's hard—that makes you happy and fulfilled. Do the thing that makes you feel like your life is being used well.