Lean In to Motherhood

In 2013, Sheryl Sandberg released “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” to great and varied response.

The pivotal point in her book was that freshly educated women needed to lean in to their careers and prioritize their professional success in a culture that often sees women holding themselves back. Check out her TED talk, for a quick run-down.

She discussed the ways women self-sabotage, or undervalue their own worth. While Sheryl touched on home life — specifically, making a marriage a true partnership — her focus is on the business world. She didn’t seem to see that some of these women are not just “leaning away” from their careers. They are leaning in to motherhood.

Lean In(2)

I appreciate Sheryl’s concerns; if and when I enter the professional workforce again, many of her concerns will be mine.

But leaning into motherhood and embracing that role wholeheartedly, that is also worth promoting and encouraging.

So many women are afraid to admit how much they love being a mother. How fulfilled they are in that role, whether they choose to do so full-time, or balance it with a career. In an age of social media and networking, somehow the parenting relationship is less worthy of reverence than other, dare I say less important, relationships.

I have friends who are living big, glamourous lives. Jetting off (literally) to Japan, Spain, France, Brazil, Italy, all in the same month. Achieving wild professional success. Performing on stages in front of sold-out audiences. Buying and decorating the kind of houses that you see in magazines. Interacting with celebrities in a daily basis — some in Hollywood, some in their respective fields, such as finance. Some are making their way up the government ladder.

We celebrate them, not just because they are doing well, but because that is what we have been raised to believe success looks like.

Think about the movies that we were raised on and their depictions of motherhood. No matter how glamourous, poised, or accomplished the mom was portrayed as being, motherhood was rarely looked at as a vibrant choice capable of great personal fulfillment. Mothers who took their “mothering roles” seriously were portrayed as overbearing, frazzled, or desperate.

I’m a feminist, thankful for the sacrifices of the generations of women who have fought to get us this far, and fully aware of how far we have yet to go. But feminism was a movement about choice. I am choosing to be the kind of mother that I am, and I am choosing to lean in.

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8 Comments

  1. I love this! It has really touched me. While I would like to think of myself as a feminist, I’ve been distancing myself from the modern feminist movement more and more since I’ve become a mom. Too many people ask me what I do, and when I tell them that being a mother is my “career of choice” they just don’t get it. As a self-proclaimed feminist, I believe it’s a powerful job that women are fully capable of should they choose to do it. And I’ve chosen 😀 I’m supermom with a messy happy home, and no “outside career” to speak of, and I’m proud!

    1. Rock on, Menucha!
      I completely understand – I think there is a misunderstanding that to be a feminist means to be above the tasks of the home, but really, the issue is choice.
      I know some would argue that they feel pressured to be a certain type of “supermom” now if they choose to stay home, but I think that is very different from not being able to work outside of the home and facing serious discrimination. One is a sensitivity and hyper-awareness of what we *think* others are doing, and one is actually not having a choice.
      I feel blessed that I choose to do well in the domestic realm right now, and then transition back to the professional realm when I am ready.

  2. I had all these wild goals when I was younger, all of these things I had planned to accomplish. Then I got pregnant. I ditched college and work and decided to be a stay-at-home mom. I have never looked back. I do enjoy working from home when I can, but I love to put everything I can into being a mom because I love it so much. God made me to be a mom and I will embrace that role joyfully and am so blessed to have my kids and the option to stay at home with them! Some day maybe I will go back to work, when they are all in school, but right now I just want to enjoy them and do my job of raising them to be the kids (and eventually adults) they need to be. Great post!

    1. You have summed up my thoughts on that article and on motherhood perfectly! Thank you. I agree wholeheartedly.

  3. Love your insight on this topic! I’m with I choose to lean in on motherhood and love that I have the freedom of choices. Great post thanks for sharing!

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