I’ve had Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In on my bedside table these past few days. I am a bit surprised by how much criticism she received when it hit the shelves back in March of 2013. I don’t find it as obtrusive as some have made it out to be. For me she was writing to a very particular group of women.
It’s not for women who are totally content and happy with a low-key job. Low-key does not mean second class. Everybody has their niche.
It’s not for women who are totally content to have left or plan on leaving their job to stay at home with their kids (work at home as Sheryl fittingly puts it). That decision is a beautiful one if you feel it’s the right one for you and your family.
Who this book is for is women who love their career, perhaps even hope to reach for the stars with it, and also want to have kids.
It’s for women who want a career and motherhood and are not sure how to make those things jive simultaneously- or who wonder if that’s even a possibility.
It’s for women who feel they will have to step down when they have kids, not because they really want to but because they feel they have no other choice.
It’s a great read if you feel you are one of those women.
By no means are her words the definitive for everyone, but she provides a voice for the other half of the conversation. And a voice that I think is really important for a woman-and society- to hear. We have heard either directly or indirectly from much of our culture that you cannot be a “good mother” and reach great heights in your career at the same time. That something has to give. You simply have to choose.
And Sheryl is saying no. No you don’t, and here is why.
There are so many good things to chew on in this book but I will fast forward to what I recently read that struck my fancy.
Sheryl included a piece of research that showed on the average a full time working mama actually spends more time with her kids than a stay at home mama did with her kids back in 1975.
Now isn’t that funny? We go on and on about the good ol’ days……..you know, when we had more time. More time to spend with our families and friends. More time to “to do things”.
The research explains this shift with the observation that most modern families today do, well, family things on the weekends where as “back in the day” couples did things separately, sans kiddos.
So we spend more time with our kids but get divorced on a flip.
Ha! No, no, just kidding. That messy topic is way more complicated. But it does make you wonder, why are we so darn obsessed with time? Especially spending time with our kids? Because apparently we do spend time with the kids! So why does it always feel like it’s not enough? What part of our culture is feeding this idea to us? Where in the world does it come from?
Something to chew on this week. Can’t wait to hear your views!
love and light your way,
Great quote right? I came across this on the Storq instagram account. I do believe they have the single greatest compilation of birth and motherhood quotes EVER. The photos tagged with them are just as fun. Lots of public personas and celebs from all sorts of decades sportin’ their bumps and kiddos. Check it out here. And has anyone out there used Storq products? I’m digging the concept, check it out for yourself here. xoxo Allyson
Me and the boys took a long drive West this past weekend and I spent a lot of time reflecting on my experience of motherhood thus far.
The monotony of motherhood hit me pretty hard, flat out, immediately after my first birth. I felt the funk deep in my bones from the get go. Stuck in that beige place of “what the hell happened to me?” mode. Social media did not serve me well in those heavy days. People were out saving the world, carving creations of every marvel out of their lives, or so it seemed, while I got up, changed diapers, made food, cleaned the mess, put babe down for nap- rinsed and repeated. ALL. DAY. LONG. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. To this child that I had wanted yet not planned for.
And actually I shouldn’t mislead you, the cleaning part happened mostly in my head.
The reality was that I was too damn tired. Yes, on a physical note that can only be understood until you experience it but, more poignantly, I was tired in the depths of my heart. I was sucked dry. Sucked by what? Thats a good question. But the reality was: me sitting on the sofa looking at this babe, to then what evolved into two babes, wondering what in the hell I was doing with my life? Was this it? This was all that there was and ever going to be? Was I just a fool?
So then, naturally, being a human in the postmodern era I began to say “it’s me that is the problem, I’m broken, I’m fucked up.”
“I’m not trying hard enough.”
So off I go clambering to get my hands on any book, blog, state of purchased mind to make me all better. Fix me.
And it didn’t.
And there I am again sitting on the couch, drenched in the funk.
No matter how much I willed myself to find grace in the little things of life, I just couldn’t. There was this unease, this restlessness, that just would not go away and it haunted me for nearly my whole first three years experience of motherhood.
Postpartum depression? I’m sure. I thought about taking medicine a lot. Should I have? Perhaps.
But now my oldest son is nearly four and for the first time in my entire life I smell, perhaps ever so taste, an ease of this whole motherhood thing. Ease perhaps is not the most fitting term. Because it still is not easy. It still is not natural. But there is a Peace. A Peace in being a woman who is a mother to these particular children. A Peace in being a woman who is a wife to this particular man. A Peace in being a woman who is living this particular life, on this particular journey, in this particular moment in time.
So as I’m driving towards the Great Plains, I wonder, what is it that makes it so different now? What awareness have I been gifted, or at all? It must be something good for I find the greatest Truths are the ones that are the hardest to form words around. They cannot be intellectualized but quietly yet profoundly sensed deep down in the crevices of our souls.
Perhaps I now know:
That motherhood did not cover me up but actually stripped me of my ignorance to my true state of being. The weight of suffering was not a causation of becoming a mother, but had actually, much to my dismay, always been there. Stepping into the role of Mother had only catapulted it to the surface, gasping for air. Once I swallowed that hard medicine and found gratitude for it, something shifted.
Perhaps I now know:
That the worst way to get through something, is to force or fight it. It is right that we must take responsibility for our lives but the other half of that story is that we must also let go. Did you know that the worst thing you can do when hit by a wave is to frantically swim? You can get so turned around in the pounding that you may end up taking yourself deeper. The first thing to do is to let it hit you. Roll with it, not against it. Then you look for the light and swim towards it….often you’ll find the water will take you to the surface without you even having to try. But you have to trust it first. If you cannot find the Trust in your journey you will exhaust yourself.
Perhaps I now know:
That the whole reason we call motherhood a journey is because it is. A journey. Filled with long roads of various terrains and seasons. If you do not have winter, how do you know what spring is? If you do not have darkness how can you recognize the light? We are addicted to happiness in this era of our time. Happiness is not the point. Happiness hangs out in the same category as anger and pride. You want to get to a place beyond all that. How do you do that? Invite the very thing in that you so despise. Feel like rubbish? Befriend it. Feel an emptiness with no name? Nurse her with love. Be your own best friend.
What would you add?
All my love,
The number one complaint from many new mamas is that their partners encompass this peculiar lack of awareness as to when and where you need a hand. I think I just might be the leader of this group!
I’ll be trying to change the diaper of my littlest, which is a wrestling match in and of itself, while my oldest is jumping on the bed like a rabid monkey. Poop flying everywhere, vocal chords escalating; I begin to hurl telepathic thoughts in hubbies direction down the hall:
“Can’t you see that I need some f*** help! Are you deaf?! You get to sit down and relax while I have to change this f*** diaper for the f*** five hundredth time!!!”
By the time he saunters into the room, because at this point I’m the one who looks like a rabid monkey, all I’ve got for him is one big SNAP of a comment to which he is left stunned like a deer in headlights.
And what is his reply Every-Single-Time?
“Babe if you need my help, just ask!”
Yes ladies it is true.
Regardless of how much we think we shouldn’t have to ask, that it should just be as plain as freaking day when you need a hand, the dudes brain just doesn’t work that way.
If you want something done, ASK FOR IT.
If you want him to take the baby while you talk on the phone, ask him.
If you want him to change the diaper, ask him.
If you want him to take care of the dishes, ask him.
If you want him to get up at 2am and help you with Mr. Fussbucket, ask him.
If you want him to (you fill in the blank), ask him.
Most men would jump over the moon for their wife and kids but for whatever reason their minds work in this particular way where the only way to get them to do it, is to ask. Go figure.
Likewise many new mamas, especially first timers, fall into the habit of whippin’ on the superwoman cape as soon as they get home from the hospital. You know that cape, the do all, be all, in a super cute size 4 outfit, this baby thing is easy cape. Yep, time to burn that cape. This cape thing is such an important subject it deserves its very own blog post, but the point is that these self-inflicted expectations added to the workings of the male brain can sometimes create a not so pretty picture.
It’s a simple fix: don’t expect, just ask.
*And on a side note, when you do that asking with a twang of sweetness and gush your gratitude for it……even though we all know it’s just changing a diaper…….. oh girl, you got that man melted in your hand. But we’ll just keep that a secret.
love and light your way,