Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Leaning In

I know a large number of people in my universe watched the 60 Minutes piece with the Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talking about the value of working women and all women "leaning in".  Mix on top of that Marissa Meyer’s new policy on telework, and perspective on working families and you have a big old thought dump on modern motherhood and working motherhood. 
Buckle up.

 Today I return to work.  I’m ready and woeful unprepared.  The challenge of working with your husband is that you never turn off the workhat when you are on maternity leave.  The benefit of working with your husband is also that you never turn off the workhat when you are on maternity leave.

I won’t be closing my eyes and jumping back in.  I know what I’m jumping into.  We’ve done this before. 

But now that we are (possibly) finished building our family and I’m unlikely to have another round or two of infertility treatments or another maternity leave in front of me, it’s time to focus on how to change it up in the workplace. 

I work in a male dominated industry.  I specialize in a male-dominated issue.  Our firm is large, but still leadership is all male.

Why is that? Why NOT me to be a leader?

I have a supportive partner who can cover late nights if I have after work events.  I do the same when he has work events.

But leaning in can’t be about who does daycare pickup.  Or who speaks up in the meeting on new business, or comes up with a kick ass new client strategy.

Leaning in has to be about being BOLD.  Not being afraid to ask for what you need professionally and personally.  And being brave.


Why are women so willing to go all mama bear for their kids, but not in the workplace?

And how can you lean in when your industry is tenuous and the economy is even more tenuous?

This is a challenge that I have faced not just as a working woman, but as a mother... and now taken on a whole new perspective.  I have the book on pre-order.  Old school.  No Kindles up in here.  It won't arrive until Wednesday at the earliest. 

To me, today, leaning in, is taking the phrase "leaning in" and thinking about it as it applies to my life today.  Yesterday.  Tomorrow.

Leaning in is being open and honest about parenting challenges.
About looking critically at myself in the life, work and parenting mirror for what is really there.
About approaching leadership at work because there is a something else there.

The "bitch" generation is passed. Women don't have to lead with aggressive or selfish or "bitch".  We women have a gift. We often have different gifts and specialties and skill sets than our male counterparts.  Our perspectives are nuanced.  And different.  And awesome.

We are qualified.
We are competent.
We excel.

So why are we apologizing? 

Why are women so reticent to say "we are good at this job"

"We are good at motherhood"

Why can't we compliment ourselves professionally and personally?

And why can't we push for more?


Today, I return to work.

My maternity leave was shorter than it was with the Robster.

Significantly shorter. 

Almost two months shorter.

Am I consumed with Mom guilt?

Abso freaking lut-ley.

There's a huge difference between a just turned three month year old and an almost five month old.

But here's the thing: I'm leaning in. 

If you want to move where you are in the universe.  If you want to advance your universe.  If you want to push where you are professionally challenge youself to the next level, and move your place in life... you have to be brave.  Be bold.

If you lean in, you have to learn to compliment yourself.  Sometimes to promote yourself.  And to have the judgment to know when and how to do that.

I see the nuances.

I understand the industry. 

I know my weaknesses. 

I know what an awesome team we have aroud us to to plug them.

But I work in an industry that is facing a crisis.

The face of it is changing.

What was an old boys, pat each other, let's go to dinner club is so different.

Lobbying is different.

People think that lobbying is currying influence... "hey, let's go to dinner"manship.  “Let’s smoke a cigar and help each other out”ness

It isn't.  It shouldn't be. 

We are megaphones for clients who need a voice on Capitol Hill.

Everyone has the aptitude and abilitiy to be a lobbyist.

You think there's  a vast injustice in Congress with your education, health care, defense system, economic situation, issue TBD?  You can be a lobbyist.  Activate yourself.

You think there is a vast injustice in fertility coverage, or the lack there of?  Of pre, pre-pre, post, during, and natal care?  Activate yourself.  You can be a lobbyist.  You are a lobbyist.

There's no legislation that gets you fired up?

Lobby for the value of being a modern mother.  A working mother.  A stay at home mother. 

You are a lobbyist by excelling at your job every day.

By identifying, strategizing, and pushing boundaries in your field.

By cooking dinner some nights, and having a supportive network to catch you on the nights you need to be at the office or at a work function.


By embracing our strengths.  Recognizing them and promoting them. 

Some of the things that make me good at the mom-ing almost make me good in the workplace.

I take initiative:  I organized the mom groups.  I didn't wallow where I was.  I wasn't ok with just being.  I wanted to "be plus".

Awesome at connecting people, forming alliances, mom groups, playgroups, and professional networking groups?  Do it in the workplace.

Some of the things that make me good in the workplace make me a great mom:  I don't get weighed down.  I see problems.  I anticipate them.  I either thwart them or find work arounds.

And really, isn't that what life is?  What motherhood is?  A big old definite series of work arounds. 

And leaning in.

I want our daughter to live and work in a world where books that talk about women being bold in the workplace aren’t needed. 

I want her to be bold and daring and excel because that’s who she is.

She’s talked it over with Mr. Panda and totes agrees.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Great weekend and new chapter

We had a wonderful weekend. 

Spring has almost sprung in Washington and we took advantage of some great weather to get outside.  On Saturday the whole family spent the morning at the Arboretum for a wonderful morning with Aunt Angela.  Everyone, including Daisy and Barkley, enjoyed a good walk.  We tired Robbie and Daisy so much that they both enjoyed a 2+ hour nap when we got back home.  Robbie is reaching his prime toddler time and is somewhat more "active" than he has been in the past.  He is, as my parents say, "all boy.''

Great day which started with getting everyone out the door to church and then to La Loma for the first patio lunch of the year.  I assure you it will be fallowed by many more.

Tomorrow is Susann's last day out of the office. She has enjoyed her time home with AH but that time has come to and end.  We like our daycare very much so we are fortunate in that regard but I guess there is always a slight tug at a Mother's heart and maybe even a Father's when comes to sending your child to daycare.  This will pass as we get used to the routine of "normal"life but the next several days will be difficult.