Lean In, She Says

I’m swamped, guys. Totally in over my head. I’ve never been so busy at work, and home life never seems to slow down. I keep telling myself, “I can’t do everything.” I’ve even said it out loud to Kyle lately. But, I keep doing more. What gives?

You know it’s bad when you’ve started blog posts five different times, never finished and now the point of each topic is moot. They’re all sitting as drafts in my inbox.

And, we’re entering holiday season. Need I say more?

So, what brings me here today is a book I just finished. It’s called Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. If you haven’t heard of her, or her book, read it now. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, it’s a good read with a profound message. At least I think so.

Lean In looks at why women continue to lag in the workplace. Backed by research, studies and just plain hard data from the women around us, Sandberg says women are giving up and choosing to “drop out.” We are our own worst enemies. We’re holding ourselves back. Why? Because women are involved in a constant tug of war between career and home-life. We either put off having a family to start our careers or we feel guilty for having both. When we feel like we can’t balance both, we throw in the towel. And, the reality is women, not men, leave their jobs to stay at home and take care of their families. This is why we aren’t climbing the corporate ladder. We aren’t even in the competition.

And, that takes me to where I am at this very moment. I am a full-time working mom and wife. I work long days. I see very little of my kids Monday through Thursday. The weekends are a constant wheel in motion. Between Target runs, grocery shopping, birthday parties, volunteering, meetings, house cleaning, laundry, feeding and bathing the kids, there is little time to enjoy much else. There are days I don’t stop from 6:30 am until 9:00 at night. A couple weeks ago, I enjoyed 5 blissful hours at the spa, because I have a wonderful husband who doesn’t mind if I disappear for a day while he tends to the boys. But, the minute I walked in the door, I washed the dishes. Then I did laundry. Then I gave the kids a bath. And, then I cooked. And, then I made the bed with the sheets I just washed, and I went through the bills and I folded all the laundry… and I didn’t sit down until it was nearly bedtime. My morning at the spa was a distant memory by the time I hit the pillow.

I’m not complaining. I’m not writing this as if I am the only woman experiencing this on a day-to-day basis. I’m just wondering why we do this to ourselves. Lean In has me thinking about a lot of things. For example, I’m learning it’s good that I still work. And though I admit I’m not trying to climb the corporate ladder, it’s good I’m still in the rat race. Besides, I’m not about to walk away from my career. I love what I do and I earn a good living. There’s nothing like using your college degree!

But, what I’m curious about is what stay at home moms think of the book. What do single or married women with no children think about this division of women and our performance in the workplace? I used to envy stay at home moms after I had each baby and went back to work. But, after a few weeks I always felt it was better for me to go to work. I don’t think I could handle being home all day, and I commend the women who do it!  I know every woman is different. Some prefer to stay at home because they can. Some choose to give up work because they feel their kids need them most. Some women do it because it will save money on childcare. There are personal reasons behind every woman’s decision to stay at home or go to work. For me, personally, I belong at work and that’s why I think this book resonates so much with me. Now I’m wondering how I can apply it when I walk into the office.

All of this also has me wondering how I can do it all without stretching myself thin or feeling like I have to keep up with everyone else. The answer is, I don’t. I don’t need to go to every party I or my children are invited to. I don’t need to make gluten-free, organic cupcakes for the classroom party by tomorrow. I don’t need to care so much about things that don’t even affect me. I just need to focus on my family and myself. Life is not a competition, my friends. Except maybe in the workplace. What do you think?