Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 98: Bridging The Gap

Aura (The Professional): Hey Mom.

Mom (Me): Good morning, Aura.

Ivy (The Companion): Hello, Aura. What brings you to us this morning?

Aura: Oh, I didn’t realize you two were together. That might be useful… But I can come back another time if I’m bothering you.

Mom: You aren’t; it’s fine.

Ivy (skeptical): Besides, now I’m curious why I “might be useful.”

Aura (embarrassed): Oh, sorry — that sounded pretty utilitarian, didn’t it? I mean I wanted to talk to both of you, so it’s lucky for me that you’re both here.

Mom: Talk about what, Aura?

Aura: About adapting to corporate life now that I’m a woman. Or rather, how it isn’t the only adapting I’m going to have to do.

Mom: You thought of another context where you need to rethink how you approach life?

Aura: Yes… This one. Getting along with you two. If navigating life at work is navigating Patriarchy, and if the skills I developed are primarily designed for that, then they aren’t going to help much in navigating our home life or social life. Patriarchy doesn’t rule those spaces, and they aren’t hierarchical.

Ivy: Finally. So does this mean you’re going to pick fewer fights with me?

Aura: I hope so.

Mom: I’m glad the concept I’ve been trying to convey to you is starting to sink in.

Aura: I suppose I’ve finally reached the zone of proximal development. Regardless, I recognize that falling back on “being professional” yields bad results outside the office.

Mom: Indeed it does, though ultimately I don’t think that’s new information for you.

Aura: No, it isn’t. The new information is what you told me in our last discussion — that my corporate coping strategies aren’t as reliable as they were when I was presenting male, and I’d have to find new approaches.

Ivy (annoyed): But not abandon those strategies entirely, it seems. You’re still going to keep using them, even when you know they do so much harm in our personal life?

Aura: I won’t use them in our personal life! It’s not like those skills are useless; we still need them at work!

Ivy (upset): You’re living in a fantasy if you think you can compartmentalize our thinking like that, especially when separating those mindsets runs counter to this entire experiment! The whole reason Mom brought us all into her headspace is because she’s trying to unify the disparate parts of her life!

Mom: Hold on, let’s bring the temperature down a bit. Aura’s right about still needing that mindset. I still have to operate in the corporate world, after all, and that does require a somewhat unique approach. And Aura is exactly the one to develop that approach — she’s the Professional, after all. If anyone’s going to do it, it’s her.

Aura (relieved): Thank you.

Mom: But Ivy’s right too. You’re not going to be able to keep that mindset limited to the office — I was never *that* good at keeping things compartmentalized, and I don’t want to try anyways.

Ivy (smug): Thank you.

Aura: So what am I supposed to do then?

Mom: Be careful about how you develop yourself, and be mindful about how you use what you learn. Where gaps exist between how we act at home and how we act at the office, try to find ways to bridge those gaps. We are ourselves in both settings, after all.

Aura (concerned): It’s not that simple. Operating in a corporate environment isn’t just a series of conscious decisions. It’s a particular mindset; a particular way of experiencing life. It’s shaping ourselves into something that can survive in a corporate atmosphere.

Mom: You can’t do that mindfully?

Aura: Not always, no! For example, think about a mass firing — suddenly a bunch of our friends aren’t at the company anymore. It feels cruel, arbitrary, and heartless, but it’s a relatively common occurrence; something we’ve lived through several times. Managing ourselves in that situation is a vital skill that demands a particular mindset, and it’s a mindset we need automatic access to so we don’t feel overwhelmed.

Ivy: Aura… Look, I know we’ve had our differences, but maybe this is something we can work on together? I can help you develop your skills in ways that aren’t so hostile to the rest of our life, and you can help me understand what you’re dealing with so I can accommodate you.

Aura (surprised): You would help me, just like that?

Ivy: Not “just like that;” it’s going to be hard work, and it’s going to take time. But I want to see you succeed — to see all of us succeed. You’re my sister, after all.

Aura (tearful): Thanks sis.

Mom (smiling): It’s nice to see my daughters getting along.

Ivy (snickering): Don’t get too comfortable, Mom. You’re still going to have to help us through this.

Mom: Oh, I know, darlings. What are Moms for, after all?

(I smile widely and put an arm around each of my daughters, pulling them into a big family hug.)