My dad goes in to surgery Thursday morning. This is easily the hardest parenting period I have ever been in and I'm in the mist of looking for a new apartment. It's Tuesday night and I'm completely spent after a day that refused to get better. Flat bike tire. Miles of walking. Bugs. Deadphone. Empty bus pass. Everything.
I want to get up tomorrow and work. I want to sit in front of my computer uninterrupted and get things done. I need to cross things off my to-do list and feel the rush of being a productive employee. I know that sounds crazy but working makes me feel better when everything is falling about. I love my job and I want to transition it into a career, a niche, be one of those women that has specialized and fine tuned her shit to perfection. I want to be workplace black excellence.
Working is a chance to learn, to get some small wins under my belt. My chance to earn my pay and my play so I can return to the demands of life feeling accomplished. Career aspirations and motherhood are a hard balance. What does devotion to career look like as a single mother? There is no one here to fill in the gaps that would leave.
I remember reading Lean In and feeling totally inspired. I didn't expect Sandberg to have anything that authentically spoke to my experience because how could she? It couldn't believe how transparent she was about imposter syndrome or things like putting her kids to sleep in their school clothes to make the morning easier. Those things still stick with me because they are so relateable. For me leaning in was about fiercely wanting career and not letting motherhood discourage me.
Leaning in meant letting go of all my fears around being a career woman and a good mother and trusting myself. Having a healthy perceptive and fighting for my chance. Years later I am stilling figuring out the angle of my lean but I'm getting more and more comfortable being honest with myself about the heights I would like to reach while also embracing how prominently staying close to my child plays in my aspirations.
Since Sandberg, lost her husband she has been doing a lot of reconsidering of the Lean In premise. I appreciate her advocacy. I think it is important to remember that it is the systems we have in place that would make it nearly impossible for a woman to reach her heights had she had a child much earlier in life. She would be the same brilliant woman after all. The world would have missed out or better yet refused the acknowledge. The article in Forbes about her new book on building resilience during/after hard times talks about how resilience is a muscle, it must be built. This analogy seemed strange to me. Not because it isn't true but it's just weird. I wonder about the little ways some people build resilience daily, wonder if she recognizes her battles as a woman in tech as building resilience or if there is some cognitive dissonance. I doubt I will ever get the opportunity to ask her but I find this project just as inspiring and relevant as the first one. Check out the website she created to go along with the book. There are wonderful stories and resources.
The truth is, some women position themselves to be able to make demands that increase their time with their family without scarifying their work. Usually that means having children once your career is already established. The workplace is artificially designed to be destructive to families. There can absolutely by more synergy between what families need and what employers need. You can have it all, maybe not at the same time but in close proximity.