My wife Elisa and I had our first child, Scarlett Avery Bigelow, on May 8, 2012. It has been an incredible experience for both of us. As many know, a child brings an entirely new world of excitement, love and adventure. Also, a child also leads to a plethora of sacrifices that parents need to make.
Elisa is no stranger to making sacrifices, as she has made an enormous amount on my behalf. Elisa was enjoying a successful 15-year career as an actress in Los Angeles before we met in Sayulita, Mexico. After a year of dating long-distance between LA and San Francisco, we decided it was best for her to move to San Francisco in order for us to pursue our relationship. This decision made her career life much more challenging. It was manageable at first, as she was able to commute to LA for any projects she was working on there. But, as I mentioned, with kids come sacrifices. With Scarlett now in our lives, Elisa’s availability to work in LA has become a bit more constrained.
Elisa has done an incredible job of adapting to family life, while at the same time continuing to pursue various career opportunities. As we were about to celebrate Scarlett’s first Christmas on the East Coast, Elisa found out that she would be orating her first book, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. As Elisa read the book, I could see her excitement for the project and the message that it is delivering. When we returned to San Francisco, Elisa went to meet Sheryl for the first time. Elisa’s enthusiasm for the project increased as she spent time with Sheryl, connecting with her drive, generosity and down-to-earth nature.
I have been the major beneficiary of Elisa’s sacrifices, and it was time for me to give back to her. She was going to spend a week in LA recording the book, leaving me solo with Scarlett. Thanks to a bit of flexibility from my colleagues at the office, I was able to delay my normal 4:15am arrival time and work from home until the nanny arrived at 6:00am. I was also able to leave work a tad earlier than normal to relieve the nanny at 3:00pm, which allowed me great bonding time with Scarlett until bedtime. After a week of solo parenting, my level of respect skyrocketed for Elisa’s ability to raise Scarlett while continuing her professional endeavors.
Elisa’s involvement in Lean In was a great opportunity for us to discover how to balance our family and professional lives together, and we look forward to building upon the experience going forward.