I thought it was hilarious when the dancing girl came in. Then to be followed by the kid in the walker... I started to pee my pants. And then the frantic mom (who many think may have been taking a quick bathroom break when they escaped). OMG. For every woman (and man) who has desperately tried to balance their work with kids - this is a GIFT to us all. As one person said in the NYT comments, I hope these parents laugh and understand how this isn't a reflection on them - but a gift to the entire working community of families in the world - and that they play it at every wedding and major event in those kids lives!!
When I started as a newly minted PhD, I was the only woman with a doctorate at a 350 person engineering engineering company - that at that time only had SEVEN women on staff. The most challenging thing was working while pregnant, nursing, and the unbelievable things that happen when you have young children who have NO concept of your work life. I can't tell you how many of these similar incidents have happened to me. OMG.
One of the things that broke me was when my son was two, I was forced to be the technical lead on a multimillion dollar redesign of the soldier system. There were five 'tech leads' across this enormous team led by General Dynamics and I was not only the only woman but I was more than 20 years the junior of any of my contemporaries. I stood out like a sore thumb briefing the generals and once the Secretary of Defense on our progress. The project was 9 months long and required over 80 hours each week (I ended up injuring my arm - it went completely numb from overuse on the project). So the balance of having my husband leading a start-up and this 2-year old was just mind-numbingly hard.
He was in a day care next to my workplace which was far from my husband. So I would often have to go get him, feed him dinner, and then bring him to work and try to keep him occupied until my husband (always working late) could swing by and grab him and go home - expecting me home even later. So David spent hours crawling around the industrial design firm next door where our prototype work was going on, sleeping under the conference table or hiding under my desk. And that was when he was being cooperative. Usually he realized we were going to my work when I didn't take the turn to the highway and would start wailing in the backseat. At a company where there were only a handful of female engineers in the first place... well this was more than hard. My having kids wasn't seen as amusing or normal - it was an inconvenience to them. Male PhDs could have kids but not female ones.
One particular incident happened at a local hotel. The company had brought in one of the top generals from Desert Storm as a consultant to teach me how to brief the Secretary of Defense and other top military brass. My husband was supposed to pick up David so I was free - but he was stuck in an airport not able to get back to Boston. So I was sooooo stuck. I had to excuse myself and run around the corner to get David and bring him back. One of the other women on the project tried to keep him amused in the hotel lobby - but he escaped and got to mommy. I was mortified (a bit more than the day I went to the bathroom after a big presentation to a client to find in the mirror that I had whitish little handprints up my legs on my nice suit). Well, the general bent over to me and whispered to me what a lovely young man I had with a huge smile - effectively telling me that it was OK. David sat happily on my lap the rest of the meeting while I conversed about our strategy and how to present it effectively. It took someone who had been to war and dealt with the deaths of young men under their command to put perspective in the moment and assure me of what was important in the world and that he didn't see me as any less because my kid sometimes intruded into the work space. I had such respect for that man!