Posted by: charityliz | January 22, 2014

Wiving & Thriving: Lean In

I may be a little slow on the uptake with this bestseller, but I recently read (i.e listened to the audiobook version of) Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. It was a great read– a refreshing look at how women can think about thriving as mothers and thriving in their careers; and how women can and should have an impact as leaders in the workplace.  I liked it so much that I drank the kool-aid–I watched Sheryl’s TedTalks, I blabbed to all my baby-crazy friends about it, I thought about starting my own Lean-In support group, and I even managed to stalk the author and see her speak for free at a local convention in SF.  And then I realized that everything she had to say during her speech, was basically what she already said in her first Ted Talk — which is pretty much the quickie version of the book.  Nonetheless, I still think it’s valuable stuff.

If I could highlight one chapter worth reading on its own, I’d say read “Chapter 8- Making your Partner a True Partner.”  She gives some great practical advice on how couples can create a true partnership around raising kids and pursuing satisfying careers.  Needless to say, this is the one chapter I asked Jason to read.  And he actually appreciated most of the concepts.  He especially enjoyed the part where Sheryl makes it clear that if women don’t want to be stuck doing everything, they have to let go of things being done their way, and therefore they have to let their partner do some of the stuff his way.  Jason loves this part and has especially taken this seriously when it comes to one of the household chores that he’s volunteered to be in charge of– the very important task of dusting.

In the big scheme of things, I still haven’t totally answered the question of what kind of mom and career woman I want to be.  I continually vacillate between the ideal of being a mom like my mom  and a career woman with aspirations like Sheryl Sandberg’s.  My mom chose to stay home and invest in her kids full-time; and as I consider that investment, I think dang, that is hard and thankless work! and my admiration and respect for her sacrifice grows the older I get. Thanks, Mom!  And on the other hand, I wonder if my path and calling is different; as I’ve established myself further in my career, I wonder if I have a calling to be a leader in my field and to let the satisfaction I get at work fuel the energy I put into mothering when I’m not at work.   It really is an interesting dilemma to think about.  I guess, ideally, I’d like a hybrid of some sort.  One of those amazing flexible jobs, where I can work part-time doing what I love and have plenty of time to invest in the kids.

One thing I’m grateful for– and my reason for including this as a Wiving&Thriving post– is that Jason has been a partner who is open to both options and almost anything in between.  Ultimately, we know we may have to make choices based on some circumstances  (i.e. where we’re living, the cost of living, and who’s actually able to get a job that brings home the bacon), but it feels good to determine together what our preferences would be.  He’s even open to being a Stay-at-Home Dad, which I love him for and I know he’d be great at– but I also know he has incredible gifts in teaching and scholarship and I personally hope he lands a job that allows him to thrive in those things (of course, with plenty of time to still enjoy the family after hours).

Sigh…who knows what will happen in the long run.  There aren’t even any babies in the picture yet (I promise!)… but it’s interesting to try to wrap our heads around our “ideal” before anything  becomes a reality; and I’m grateful for the viewpoint that Lean In has added to our perspective.

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