Why I Work- A Soapbox

It’s been crazy busy lately- thus the no posting for almost a month. But, it’s about time I got on my soapbox, so bear with me. I have chosen to work, have a career, whatever you want to call it, for 3 reasons.

1) I’ve often talked about work serving as a creative outlet for me. I love what I do so it’s not just “work”, but also something I enjoy, and that I’m good at.

2) It’s time away from our home routine that allows me to recharge.

3) It’s also the challenge of working through the red tape, politics, and silly little situations that keeps me challenged. It also makes me a little crazy sometimes, but isn’t that part of a good challenge??

I’ve been exploring options of growth in my career for a while now. I’ve been talking with my supervisor and others across the company, really reevaluating what I want to do “when I grow up”. I often reflect on how things were “back in the day”. I’m not old enough to say that all mom’s stayed home and then the dad’s worked. I don’t think that was what everyone did anyway- maybe just a majority. But, I do remember that it was not as common to see women leaders, not like you see today. Women were often teachers, secretaries (is that even the PC term for that position today??), nurses, and a number of other roles that were typically thought of as a “woman’s job”. I don’t recall seeing a lot of women who were leaders of large companies, principals of schools, lawyers, doctors, political leaders, you get the idea. I’m not saying that there were NO women in those fields, I’m just saying they were dominated by men. Growing up, I wanted to first be a teacher, then an interior designer/decorator, artist, and by high school, a lawyer. It took until high school for me to look outside of the areas that are typically cast as female roles. Not because my parents didn’t encourage me, but I was demonstrating what I saw all around me. Granted, I did grow up in a small town, but even on TV I primarily saw men in those “non-women” roles.

I really want my kids to see, especially as boys, that it’s okay for mom to work- or do what she loves. That it’s up to the mom to decide what fulfills her. If it’s staying at home with the kids, perfect. If it’s working to support your family, rock on. If it’s working because you love what you do, keep pushing forward. Someday when they get married, I want their wives to have that freedom to choose what best fits their family, not a stereotype. Although, I sure hope by that time things have progressed even more for women!

A few nights ago, I felt that I got confirmation that the boys get it. They don’t see women in the roles I was so used to seeing growing up. Their views of women working are not boxed into a few small segments. We’re getting the kids ready for bed and I’m feeding Asher in his room. We’re rocking along and Elijah comes in to chat. We often have off the wall chats about everything from small business profit margins (literally) to music keys. Whatever is on that big brain of his. Instead of jumping into a conversation right away, he’s sitting there watching me feed Asher. Asher is looking back at him, not really interested in his bottle anymore. I felt like he was almost looking at Elijah like “what’s on your mind big brother”. I wait a few more moments, get Asher back on track and Elijah says, “Mom, I think you should be president.” Imagine my surprise. I hate politics- the traditional governmental kind. I’m only fascinated during presidential election nights to watch the polls move forward- and voting of course. Other than that, I have little interest in real “represent the people” kind of politics. “Why do you say that?” I ask. “Well, I just think you should, you would be good at it. You would be the first woman president.” I pause, it strikes me that he does not seem alarmed by that. That even though historically it has always been a “man’s world” to hold that position of leadership, he feels that I meet those qualifications- and would be happy if I were the first woman president. I have to admit, I was flattered. Even if it was just my 9 year old suggesting that. Who wouldn’t be?? “Well Elijah, that’s very nice of you to say that, but I don’t think I’m quite qualified to be president. Maybe a different kind of leadership would be good?” He responds, “Okay, how about vice president, or maybe governor?” I smile again. “Would you vote for me if I was running for office?” He smiles now, “I guess so.” I respond, “I’m glad you think that I can be a leader like that. I’m not sure that’s the right fit for me. I don’t think I would get a lot of votes though. How about I stick to leading things that I’m good at.” He thinks for a moment, “I guess that would work. You could always run for mayor if you don’t want the governor position. Or maybe a representative?” I’m beginning to think he might be looking for a career as a campaign leader! He doesn’t see a problem with a woman leading. Maybe he recognizes all of the things many women do every day and correlates that with how positions of leadership are. Keep in mind, this is the child that questioned me about the strategy used during the civil war and why it was, or was not, effective for each side. So, I’m not certain that this path of thinking is beyond that brain of his.

If you really think of it though, most women are the ultimate multitaskers- working in or out of the home. There are schedules to keep (do not mess with the schedule), people to get ready (showers, clothes, meals, events, etc.) and loving to provide. Among a number of other things. And, to top it off, all of those things often overlap each other. Multiply that by however many children you have, or a husband that is either working, in school or like a child himself. We do that. Every day. And we have for years, decades, centuries. So, please tell me, WHY can’t women be in places of leadership? Yes, maybe I sometimes cry when I get extremely angry (those are tears of anger, not sadness!!!). If I punched a wall like some men may do, I would be fired, if not institutionalized. Yes, I have a uterus. Because of this, I am tasked, if I chose so, to have children. But, why should I have to choose between one or the other? Men don’t have to choose. I’m sure there are plenty of opinions out there, it’s been debated for decades. And it’s probably a lot easier now to have this discussion and even become leaders than it was generations ago. Please believe me when I say that not all women are great leaders. All men are not great leaders either. It goes both ways.

So, as I step off my soapbox, for now, I really challenge people to think about how things have changed over that last several decades and what, if any, change is happening now. Do you have opinions about women in leadership because of what you were taught or what you see? Why do you feel that way? Do you have viable, first hand, evidence to support that opinion? Consider the legacy we leave our children and how what we demonstrate impacts them. After all, they’re the future right?

Okay, enough of my soapbox. Until next time, I’m off to multitask…..

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