Leaning In and Loving It; Or, WWSD?

pirat-games-3I just wrapped up reading Sheryl Sandberg’s hotly contested book, Lean In Lean In is the latest book about working motherhood to hit the shelves and it’s causing quite a stir. If you haven’t heard of it by now, well, let’s just leave it at that. You probably have heard of it by now.

And it seems like everyone has an opinion or take on the book, or maybe worse, Sandberg herself. I don’t really want to re-hash all the opinions or arguments the book has caused. I’m not being cowardly, (maybe lazy and tired), but really I just am not sure I’m going to add too much insight to the discussion of the biggest book on women working that’s come out since, well, I’m not sure when.

What I’d rather focus on is the positive I gained by reading the book. Because I gained a lot. Really and truly! Sandberg has an informative and pretty inspirational point of view. She was extremely lucky in her career, but also, clearly, she was very hardworking. She didn’t just get there because of favors that were called in. And hey, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably had a favor called in for you once along the way — is that such a bad thing?

Anyway, I digress. I’m thinking about this book a lot lately. It’s like “What Would Sheryl Do” in my head every time I’m on a call, in a meeting, trying to write a new business proposal. I sort of know WWSD, but here are some changes and observations about myself that I’ve made in just the short time since I’ve read the book. My own WWSD (See we even have the same initials!):

  • I don’t aspire to move all the way up the corporate ladder; I just want to be on one of the rungs. Even though Sandberg clearly speaks to women in executive positions, I was empowered by her message to continually go after your goals and to not settle.
  • I also have decided to speak up more. I used to constantly just keep my mouth shut because I was afraid I was being impolite or talking out of turn or because I was just nervous. So I loved the part of the book where Sandberg talks about how women never interrupt in meetings as compared with men. Now, I’m not advocating interrupting, but I am advocating being honest and speaking your mind appropriately and assertively. You cannot go wrong being true to yourself.
  • I’m not as nervous or resistant to asking my husband to pitch in and help when I need it for work. He’s most definitely the breadwinner, but I’ve been pulling in my share of the pie lately and if I need to work, he needs to adjust his schedule if he can. My kids generally like him better anyway.
  • I also know it was one of the lightest parts of her book, but I appreciated Sandberg’s examples of forgetting to dress her kids for school theme days, leaving work at 5:30 and logging on after bed, and generally feeling torn about where to be and when. Part of me knows that it is very anecdotal and meant to appeal to more of the masses, but that even someone with more help and resources than I can ever imagine still f’s up once in awhile with her kids.
  • The part that really resonated with me was how Sandberg identifies so many examples of how women screw over other women trying to get ahead in careers. It happened to me, I’m sure it happened to you, and I really want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone I manage, work with, or other. Easily implementable for me as my own business owner.

 

Did you read it? What was your key takeaway?

In Honor of Mother’s Day: Shtty Mom Book Preview

If you’re like me and on Mother’s Day you seek ways to escape your children (because isn’t Mother’s Day supposed to be about the MOTHER not about the kids, hello!?) you might like to pick up this little ditty of a book I managed to get my hands on at the Mom 2.0 conference last week – Sh*tty Mom. I mean, seriously, the title alone was enough for me to put down 50 Shades of  Porn Grey. That’s saying a lot. My husband was not pleased.

Girlfriends, this sh*t is funny. Almost as funny as how bad the writing is in 50 Shades of Porn Grey is.

Sh*tty Mom, written by the ever-fabulous TODAY Moms team and comediennes and writers Laurie Kilmartin and Karen Moline, is the perfect anti- “Are You Mom Enough?” – brouhaha book. These ladies certainly didn’t carry their babies around in a sling breastfeeding until they were wearing braces.

Cool by me. Sh*tty Mom is the perfect book if you’ve texted excessively at the playground, left your kids in the car while you went into get the dry cleaning because it’s too big of a pain the ass to get them in an out for a 5 min errand – GEEZ! and all around lazy-ass parenting moves that we probably all do once in awhile and just don’t admit it. Yes, I beg to have the kids sleep out and tomorrow I plan on taking the afternoon to be by MYSELF doing something non-kid related, and possibly with alcohol. I can drink while shopping, right?

Favorite chapter title of the preview copy I got – “Organized Sports May Be Great for the Kids but They Suck for You” – because in honor of Mother’s Day tomorrow is the ONLY day in the foreseeable future where I won’t have to adjust teeny jock straps and smelly soccer shin guards and cleats.

Because I love my kids, I do. I just don’t like them when they smell.

Yes, I can be sh*tty, and you probably are too, so read the book when it comes out, k? Let me know what you think – you can even pre-order the book for next Mother’s Day – it’s totally not a sh*tty gift.

 

Men at Work

I’ve been talking mommy wars on this blog since I started it. I obviously didn’t start the debate, but I had hoped that by starting my blog I could add productive and (sometimes) funny conversation to it. So when my friend Jean posted a link to my Facebook wall about this widely-read post by Glennon Melton on the topic I had to read, and of course, chime in. And then Monica chimed in and we all had a “we hate the old mommy wars debate party” and called it a night. Yes, our lives are THAT exciting.

I REALLY don’t care that much about the mommy wars anymore. I really don’t care if the SAHMs hate me or if I’m stuck on a phone call dealing with a client crisis during my son’s mommy and me class (who, me?) or about the moms that go to the office every day and have nannies or day cares or a fairy godmother taking care of their kids. I don’t care.

But what got me to actually writing a blog post 5+ years after I wrote my first one on the topic is that I am getting a bit irked with the theme of blog posts that trend towards teaching invaluable lessons to their daughters and how as either a stay-at-home mom or working mom or if we’re debating our choices, that we should be professional and productive because we are trying to raise our daughters to be strong women.

I’m all for raising strong women and the best daughters in the world, but when I look and think back over the years about this tired topic the conversation always trends towards the mother/ daughter dynamic.

What, then, for the moms of boys?

Because as a mom, working or not working, I’m trying to raise my sons to be all that you all with daughters are trying to as well. And let me tell you, the working/ non-working debate certainly shapes a young man as it would a young woman.

There are plenty of times where my eldest complains because I can’t pick him up from school, or I have to drop him early to head to a meeting and “he doesn’t get enough alone time with me.” I sometimes think those times make him stronger even though I feel badly that I couldn’t go chaperone the class field trip or volunteer for lunchroom duty for the umpteenth time. When he’s older and his brother is older, they’re going to see the ugly debate too and it could shape the kind of women they meet, date and potentially marry. Because I’ll be damned if he marries a sanctimommy hoe bag. Just saying.

The working mom debate is not a female-only issue.

My sons see in me the possibilities that they too, could implement in their lives down the line. That the definition of woman and wife and mother don’t have to be black and white, just as Glennon’s daughter doesn’t have to grow up in some antiquated mold of soccer mom vs. corporate mom.

I’d just like to say that moms of boys have just as much at stake in the debate.

(BTW – This whole conversation also says nothing of the husbands who are often off working their tails off just so moms like me can enjoy flexibility and some stay-at-home-ness. I know the guilt of missing events and the like wrack my husband constantly, but we’ve made our choices for now.)

 

 

Behind every great woman is an even greater man??

Women are constantly trying to get out from behind a man’s success be it in the business world or beyond, but what about when the great success of the family is the woman?

That’s why I loved this piece in yesterday’s New York Times about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the soon-to-be chair of the Democratic National Committee. She not only kicks butt as a Congresswoman, but also as a mother. And she gives due credit to where much of it is clearly due — to her husband. Wasserman says in the article:

“I promote that you don’t have to choose between work and family.” But, she adds, “I married a great guy.”

He’s apparently so great that he doesn’t even need hired help around the house when she’s off in Washington working. Unreal!

It’s refreshing when I read accounts of women who are uber-successful in their professional life cop to the fact that they have a husband at home bearing the weight of child care or personal responsibilities. I keep thinking all those awesome working moms I meet are somehow making it all happen on their own (FWIW Design Mom says Ben Blair does his half – love it!).

So a big thanks to Ms. Schultz for being so forthcoming to all us curious bystanders about how she gets it done.

Kim Clijsters is my hero

Kim Clijsters is my new-ish hero. It’s not the first time I’ve written about her on this blog before. The first time I mentioned her was when New York Times author Selena Roberts took her to task for “opting out” of tennis at the young age of 23.

I bet Roberts is eating her words now.

Clijsters just won her FOURTH Grand Slam last weekend — the Australian Open — in Melbourne last weekend. She won her second — the U.S. Open — after taking the last 2.5 years off to birth and raise her daughter. And won another U.S. Open last year.

How’s that for opting back in? I hope my re-entry into the workforce is one-bazillionth as successful.

And what did she credit for her stirring “comeback” to tennis?

Why, the maturity she feels she has now that she’s a mother. I heard her say that on TV too.

It’s scary to opt-out of the workforce for whatever reason – injury, age, kids, whatever. And it’s equally as scary to opt back in not knowing what challenges might lie ahead. But I get what Clijsters is feeling. In some ways, taking the time off (if you’re lucky enough to be able to do so) only to go back in gives you the drive and insights you might not have had otherwise.

I’m a firm believer that having children has only helped my career, not hindered it. I may not have won any Opens, but knowing I have those little (and one big) dudes to come home to every night makes me feel like a champion.

The Limbo Rock

Remember the six month itch I had a couple years back? Well, it’s back, but it’s for real this time and it could be called the My Baby’s Going to Be One Soon and I’m Starting to Freak Out About Having a Career Again Itch.

Or, as I’ll refer it to, The Limbo Rock. (Also, that’s a lot shorter).

I’m in limbo here, people.

I’m craving work. Like real, paid work. Yet, I don’t want to give up some of the flexibility I have by being home with my children.

I’m so torn. Many of my friends whose kids are older tell me to cherish my baby. And so I’m doing that. But they are also the ones who’ve managed to carve nice, flexible careers. And, they somehow managed to do it when their children were young.

So I feel like now’s the time. The baby is almost a year. (I know this isn’t “old,” but it’s not like newborn madness.) I have that ITCH. I want to do more.

But I want the cuddles when I want them. I want to be able to pick up my son from school and his activities. I want to be there for bedtime.

Do I give that up for a taste of an office? A meeting? A *gasp* paycheck?

I’m partly sure I do.

But, there’s the part of me that is worried once I get under that limbo stick I’ll fail and fall down.

I’m doing the Limbo Rock.

Wifely

This is one of my favorite posts by my good friend Wired Momma. What the h is wrong with being a typical wife? According to her, nada. I think she nails it when she talks about how it’s easy to be a wife when we choose to leave our careers on our own terms. For those of us lucky enough to have a choice of whether or not we want to work, when we can exit when we please, it’s rather easy to embrace a typical wifely role. We have the freedom to be a wife/ mom on our own terms.

But then, it’s easy to forget that some of us out there don’t have this choice or struggle with the choice.

And, it’s also easy to forget sometimes that for us to be happy being a wife means that someone else has had to give up something.

The husband. The husband who makes it all possible for the “happy housewife” to exist.

But why would the media ever want to cover that angle?

What Kathryn Bigelow can teach us “mommy” bloggers

When Kathryn Bigelow smashed through Hollywood’s glass ceiling at this month’s Oscars, she took with her years of women directors being pigeon-holed and typecast as directing “chick flicks.” As Manhola Dargis points out in her savvy article yesterday on the topic, Bigelow told Hollywood what’s what and silenced the critics. Yes, there will always be the Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephrons and Drew Barrymores who will direct lighter fair, but Ms. Bigelow showed all of us that no matter what Hollywood thinks or reports about female directors, there’s now room in the club for women to direct more “manly” type films, if you will. 

Flash to another section of the NY Times yesterday and you’ll find another outlet of the media doing just what Hollywood did to female directors up until this year – typecasting mommy bloggers as doing anything and everything to promote their blogs and make money. The article is snarky and sassy and makes it seem that all we’re out here doing is shilling for baby wipes at the expense of taking care of our kids.

The”mommy blogger” behemoths have rightly stated their opinions online and I care not to rehash the debate of who said what, if you’ve chosen to work at home or at an office or out of your car or whatever. I just wanted to point out that even if it took 82 freaking years (can you even imagine blogging that long?), Ms. Bigelow rose above the “chick flick” female director fray and did something powerful and magical with her movie.

And we have to remember that we can too. The media can write its sensational headlines and try to pit mom vs. mom, blogger vs. blogger (or both), but as long as we write about what we believe in and do what we like with our sites, no one can mess. Eventually we will break through the clutter and be seen for more than the dirty diapers we journal about on occasion.

I just hope I’m alive to see it.

A lesson in quitting, or screw you, Mommy Wars

Son: “Mommy, why did such and such (name witheld) leave our class earlier this year?”

Me: “Well, she quit.”

Son: “What’s quitting?”

Me: “Hmmm… (realizing I probably shouldn’t use that term loosely around an almost four-year-old.) It’s when you decide not to do something anymore. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. Like, remember I used to work? Remember I showed you my office downtown? But then I quit my job to stay home.”

Son: “Yeah… you quit because you wanted to be a mommy. And be around kids.”

Me: “Yeah, something like that.”

If only it were so cut and dry, right?

For those of you following the renewed mommy wars debate…

Two prominent bloggers have attacked the issue I wrote about last week again this week. I think we’re all saying the same thing although since I don’t consider myself a WAHM because I don’t feel my pithy freelancing really counts as that, I can’t vouch for all the attacks on the WOHM vs. WAHM. I still think it it’s all silly and hope one day we can just put the freaking labels away and stop writing about this and share a laugh about how hard it is to be a mom in general over a cocktail. I’ll take a momtini extra dry.

The end.