You may have read an article on the Atlantic in 2012 called “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” (it was one of the most-read pieces in the magazine’s history!), and had ALL kinds of feelings (most likely infuriating and/or sad). But what you may not have read, is Anne Marie Slaughter’s FOLLOW-UP novel to her article, called Unfinished Business. The gist of it is that she realized her article hit a serious cultural nerve and caused a bit of a shit storm, but was certainly flawed, so she spent years talking to people from all walks of life to really get to an in depth understanding of the modern struggle of working moms.
Suffice to say, I loved the book. As someone currently obsessed with the topic of motherhood and work, it spoke to me completely. And I encourage everyone to read it, but in the meantime, here are the 3 greatest points I took away from it (that I repeat to myself constantly when I’m having a work/motherhood freak out):
1. Careers are NOT a “sprint” (ie. a graph with an only-upward trajectory), they are “intervals” (ie. a graph with peaks and valleys). No one’s career is a straight shot to the top. There will be times when we can gear up, and times when we need to gear down. And sometimes we gear down not even because of having kids! Sometimes there is personal illness, or need to take care of an elderly parent, or maybe even just a sabbatical to shift perspective (get your eat, pray, love on!). And it is OK to gear down! As a society we need to acknowledge that gearing down is normal and not a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean you can’t gear back up at another time.
2. We don’t hit the peak of our careers till like age 50. So relax. When I read this line I had a big sigh of relief. We have SO MUCH TIME. Taking 3 months, or 8 months, or 12 months, or how ever many months off from work will not kill your career or have the negative impact your brain has convinced itself it will. My incredible mother in law took 10 years off from full-time work to have 4 kids, and returned after a decade to be a radio show host for over 25 years and is now in politics. BOOM!
3. This is an EVERYONE problem, not a woman problem. Sometimes trying to figure out how we make massive paradigm shifts like flexibility in the workplace and valuing care-giving as much as we do bread-winning can be overwhelming (especially while trying to live the day-to-day life), but knowing this is an everyone problem, and not just mine, or women’s problem, makes it a little less heavy on the heart.
And speaking of #BOSSMOMS, this week I was featured on a podcast called Who’s Your Mama that is all about moms striving to maintain a creative identity while raising a family. I highly suggest listening to the show (I reveal who I have a huge mom crush on!), and following/liking/giving rave reviews on itunes to the show. Thanks again for having me on your awesome show Corinne!