There was another post that caught my eye on social media the other day. It was a hand-written comparison list titled “Should Mothers Have Careers?” I have posted the image below so you can see it for yourself.
This list is vastly unfair and unrealistic. It is media like this that gives the stay-at-home mom so little respect. This kind of subtle messaging can do so much harm. It plants these stereotypes that just because you are home with the kids you have so much free time during the day. Oh yes, you are home so you have time to cook a gourmet meal, play all day, and nap. It is this stuff that causes husbands to come home and ask their wives that much-despised question — “what have you been doing all day?”
It is not right. These moms aren’t napping all day. They are juggling the laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, and meal preparation with the constant demands (and guilt) to play (or get a snack) from their children. They are the managers of households. Their to-do lists are overflowing. They are exhausted both physically and emotionally. They are working hard as hell.
Not to mention they can be faced with ongoing feelings of loneliness, the struggle to find a place where they belong and a purpose within themselves. It is hard when you go through 90 percent of your day with only a two-year-old to talk to.
Whether working outside or inside the home, each has its challenges and benefits. Being a mother (period) is hard work and it deserves all the respect we can give. We need to stop glorifying the stay-at-home mom as someone who is always on vacation and instead give her a helping hand, a hug, a high-five. We also need to stop putting down the working mom, the one who is doing what she needs to do for her family, the one who may be following her dreams. We all have different paths—one is not better than the other.
It has long been thought that to succeed professionally, you need to blend into the culture of your workplace, you need to mute your differences and not “shake the pot,” especially as a woman or member of a minority group. But a recent article in the Harvard Business Review has revealed that there can also be many benefits to sharing your cultural differences and being your whole, unique self.
When we don’t hold back or hide our true identities, we can offer a unique perspective. As a minority or a member of a different gender group than others in similar roles, often you have different life experiences that provide a different view on a particular subject area. For example, a woman is going to know a lot more about designing a training bra than a man. Someone who grew up in a poor family is going to understand public aid better than someone who never needed it. Someone who struggled to fit in as a child because of racial differences is going to understand minority issues better than someone who didn’t face those circumstances.
Your unique perspective can also help to identify any racially insensitive marketing or features that might have been overlooked. By being open with your thoughts and observations you can help to prevent serious issues from taking place. If you are willing to share details about your life or culture with others, you also have the potential to help bridge differences and create a more conducive work environment. People are naive to differences and often rely on incorrect stereotypes to classify those around them, you have the potential to open their minds and change that perspective by sharing a bit about you.
Being true to yourself and sharing your identity with others can help to build rapport among colleagues or clients. When similarities are discovered in people of different nationalities you have created a bridge from one culture to another. As humans, we tend to connect over a common interest or life experience, like being a mom, enjoying a particular hobby, or experiencing a similar life event.
Benefits vs. Risks
As with all benefits, there are also risks. When you stand out or relate to a specific cultural or gender group you might find yourself getting stuck with the same projects over and over again. You may also be faced with resistance from management or colleagues who don’t agree with your degree of difference. They might be uncomfortable with you getting noticed or pointing out a different path they had yet to consider.
In the end, it is your self-confidence, creativity, and work ethic that are going to get you noticed. Being yourself and having the ability to feel like you can truly be you are going to contribute to your overall happiness and self-confidence and likely your success.
I came across an article in The Washington Post the other day about the first sisters to become generals in the U.S. Army. The article made me feel proud to be a woman in this day and age and happy to see women putting themselves out there and going for these high-level military positions.
Anyone who is familiar with the military and the news knows that being a woman in the military is not an easy thing. Sexual assault reports for women in the military rose 38 percent last year.
Just 16 percent of the military’s 1.3 million active-duty personnel are women, according to the article. Faced with steep competition from their male counterparts, it is no wonder that many of these women fill low ranking positions.
Becoming a general is something that required a whole lot of hard work, according to these sisters. And, for that I commend them. They didn’t give up. They worked hard and earned these positions.
There is no question that as a nation we still have quite a bit of work to do in terms of gender equality. But, the best way to break down barriers and to shrink the gap is to keep trying. The more we stand up for ourselves, do what we believe in, fight for those positions we want (and deserve), then, the more we can continue to make headway in this constant struggle.
These women show us that any woman can accomplish her dreams if she puts her mind to it. We are strong. Whether it be becoming a football player or an Army general, women can fill the same roles as men. Women really can do anything. So, I thank these women for setting this example for others and for following their hearts.
I am having a mom/work dilemma and I am so very torn. Tomorrow is my daughter’s last day of kindergarten. We recently moved out of the area to a new school district, but we were able to allow my daughter to finish the year at her old school. She is struggling because tomorrow will be her last day at her current school and she will have to say goodbye to all her friends. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem for me to be there with her for this, but tomorrow I am signed up for a special training. This free training workshop is something I have waited for years to take, it is usually very expensive.
My daughter is normally a very happy, easy-going kid, but tonight she was a wreck. She was so emotional about her last day tomorrow. I told her that her grandparents will be picking her up from school and taking her out for a celebratory lunch and that I will be home as soon as I can. She just cried and cried and asked if there was some way I could be with her. She is so sad.
I am so torn! If it were anything else, I would move mountains to be there for her. But, this opportunity is truly rare, one I have inquired and waited for years. I am so sad about the timing of everything. What should I do? How do I handle this?
Sincerely, Jenny from Alabama
Mabel: Thank you for reaching out. I am sorry that you feel torn between your daughter needing you and participating in training you’ve waited years for due to cost. I have a few questions: 1) What’s the most difficult thing about this? 2) Is this training offered every year or regularly? 3) Assuming it is offered every year or regularly, would you be able to put some money away each month to save for it? How much will you need to save per month? 4) Is the answer to question three do-able? 5) If it is not do-able within a year, can you spread it out? How long will you need to save monthly to attend the training?
I am asking these questions about the training and money because training workshops and money are objects. They don’t have feelings. They don’t care if we move them around or tend to them later. I don’t know your daughter, so I don’t want to assume or say that she will be ok without you being there. But, I am 100% sure that training and money are ok with whatever you decide.
I hold no judgment over your decision. This is my personal opinion. If I may, I would advocate for your daughter because she asked you to be there. I know her grandparents will be there to give her lots of love but she wants you. This is not her asking for a toy where you are saying “no.” This is her asking for emotional comfort during a very difficult time (in her six-year-old mind). She is young, so her mood may also change when tomorrow rolls around. I would say play it by ear and listen to your gut.
Love is part of being human but it is not something that just comes naturally, at least that is what one analyst believes. Loving another takes work. It requires effort, discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. Love is not a feeling, rather it is a practice.
Psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm outlined this perspective in his 1956 book, The Art of Loving. Fromm thinks of love not as something that is mysterious or magical but rather something that can be analyzed and explained. His theory revolves around the idea that a person cannot fully experience real love until they have developed their total personality. Part of this involves self-love. It means learning how to care for yourself before you can fully care for another. It means taking responsibility for your choices, your decisions, your actions. It means respecting yourself, knowing and being honest with yourself about your weaknesses and your strengths. Truly knowing and understanding yourself means being realistic. A person must learn to love their neighbor with “true humility, courage, faith, and discipline,” he writes.
Work To Be Loved
He believes that a person cannot fall in love but rather they have to work to be in love. It is not something that happens to a person, but instead is something that is worked at achieving. Fromm argues there are four basic elements to true love: care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge.
His perspective, while agreed to by some and criticized by others, contains a foundation that is undeniably true across all relationships—you can’t maintain a relationship without putting in the effort. That is the bottom line. It is not smooth sailing all the time. You can’t throw in the towel every time things get difficult. You really have to work at it. It does take discipline, it does take a level-headed mindset and the ability to consider both sides of the spectrum.
Regardless of beliefs or theories, at the end of the day, I think we can all agree that love is beautiful and as Fromm would say “is one of life’s greatest achievements.”
Social media is fun (and dangerous). All your friends are on there and you can easily get into discussions or debates. You can catch up with people you have not seen in years, and keep tabs on people’s ever-evolving lives. You can post an opinion, thought, or daily happening in a matter of seconds and send it out into the inter-web. It may feel harmless. I mean sure you are sharing with friends, who are they going to tell?
Nothing is really ‘private’ on the internet
Let’s not forget — this is the internet. Even though it is social media and your profile is set to private, nothing is really private once it has entered the realm of the web. A rule of thumb that I use with my clients is if you won’t say it in front of your kids, then don’t say it on social media. Saying the wrong thing could affect your career years later, and we all know our kids will probably find a way to view all of that stuff at some point.
Just look at the examples in the news:
1.) A university professor was fired for tweeting that Hurricane Harvey was karma for Texas, pointing out the GOP connection.
2.) A 19-year-old daycare worker was fired after snap-chatting a photo of her making an obscene gesture towards one of the children while on the job.
3.) A zoo employee was fired after tweeting a racist comment about patrons.
Then you have the stories where people didn’t just post obscene, racist, or offensive comments but rather photos. I have heard stories of people not getting their dream job because the employer found photos of them doing drugs or binge drinking on the internet. Similar stories have also been told with people who have posted risqué photos.
It might seem harmless, but once it is posted it is always there. It never leaves. You can never fully delete it. So, here is a rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t want your child to hear it, see it, or repeat it then do not post it on social media. It could haunt you years later.