This morning my six-year-old snuggled next to me on the couch, an iPad on his lap open to a smurfs game app; the Wall Street Journal on my lap, headline blazing "Steven Paul Jobs, 1955-2011." I lifted the paper up to show him the photo of Jobs and told him that the inventor of the iPad had died.
"Will they still make iPads, now that he's away?" my son asked, concerned. I assured him that Jobs' company would continue to build them. Silently he returned to his game.
To all the tributes today about Steve Jobs, his life, and his companies, I want to add a thank you for all that his innovative products have done for moms and kids. As a work-at-home writer and mother of four children, the iPad became my best friend when I was finishing my book, The Custom-Fit Workplace. Publishers demand quick turnarounds when a book is in its final stages of editing and production. Carrying an iPad everywhere when all four kids were on summer vacation enabled me to help it hit the bookstore shelves on schedule.
The Internet is a tool that feminism has needed to help mothers stay in the "public" sphere of paid work, idea-generation, product-creation, business, leadership, and government. Steve Jobs put the Internet in our purses and pockets, as President Obama noted, thereby helping mothers balance workforce and family responsibilities. His tools make many parents' work-life ecosystems sustainable.
Our kids will take these technologies further, thanks in part to the early learning they are getting on Apple products. I am wowed daily when I see what my kids are doing on their Macs and iPads, and how they are thinking about what apps and other inventions are needed to do new projects for Science, Art, or Humanities. Steve Jobs got their noggins joggin' and I'll be forever grateful.
And when we parents need a little respite from the daily craze, let's not forget how enchanting our favorite old songs sound on an iPod. I'll never forget the moment my teenager put the headphones on my ears to hear Stevie Nicks sing "Landslide." Peace.
Thanks, Mr. Jobs. Kids, work, and music. Life doesn't get better than that.