I'm feeling very unsexy this week.
My wife is an 8-6 corporate business executive and we are between nannies for three weeks. Guess who is in charge of buying back-to-school supplies, making my daughter's breakfast, allaying childish fears about entering sixth grade, taking and picking up my daughter at school and piano, reading the avalanche of school missives and instructions, going to Costco, and doing the laundry. That would be me. Mr. Mom.
Oh, yes. And I'm also trying to keep my company afloat. The winds of business never cease howling.
Because of the flexibility of my agenda as the owner of my company, I can cover family needs at times like this, though at a cost of underperforming my leadership, managerial, and rainmaking roles. One advantage of the entrepreneurial lifestyle is flexibility to fill in as crisis care giver. I am, after all, the boss. (Of course, if I "fill in" too much I go out of business.)
So I've been taking on the household and child rearing. I'm fumfering through. But for me, there are subtle losses that occur in times of overwhelming workloads. These losses are in intimacy, marriage nourishment, and sex.
I have written before about my feeling that entrepreneurs generally make shitty spouses, including me. It is very hard to have it all. Most of us are bifurcated with love for our mate and passion for our company. For me, entrepreneurial passion comes from the same emotional space as romantic and sexual passion. When you throw domestic engineering duties on top of everything else, who stands a chance for a balanced life? Something's gotta give.
While there has been a great deal of discussion about female executive issues of life and work balance, note Anne Marie Slaughter's celebrated Atlantic piece, very little has been written about the male side of the equation. I feel life balance issues are increasingly affecting all genders, as more women become entrepreneurs and high-level executives. It's really the rewards of intimacy, relationship development, tenderness, and sensuality that may get lost when priorities force choices.
Here's a story I picked up off a blog in the Harvard Business Review written by Herminia Ibarra. It tells of a top-level female executive serving on a diversity committee-a female executive both me and my wife can relate to. Asked to comment on her experience with diversity, this executive said to her colleagues: "Let me tell you what diversity means to me. My husband told me 'There will be sex in this house at least once a week, whether you are here or not.'"
If only it were simple. A great reward, incalculably important to most of us entrepreneurs, is freedom. Yet nothing is without a price. My wife often feels she pays that price. I certainly don't have the solution to this conundrum, yet I am certainly feeling it acutely, keeping too many balls in the air this week. (Our new nanny arrives from Brazil next week. Thank God!)
Mae West has advice that might apply to women considering partnering with an entrepreneur. She says, "Don't marry a man to reform him--that's what reform schools are for." And Andre Maurois, said, "A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day."
Thanks, Mae. Thanks, Andre.