Thursday, 5 March 2015

Man! I Feel Like a Woman

Dear Molly & Jack,

This Sunday is International Women's Day.  I know that probably doesn't mean much to either of you yet.  Heck it didn't mean anything to me until a couple of years ago which is particularly shameful for someone who was half a credit shy of earning a minor in Women's Studies in her undergrad.

In 1975 the United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day on March 8th.  Forty years later it is celebrated as a day to look back on past struggles and achievements of women from the past as well as looking forward towards the potential and opportunities that we all hope are available to future generations of women, such as yourself Molly.

I didn't really feel the impact of the glass ceiling until I was in my thirties, when I smashed my head against it rather hard.  For over half a decade your father and I would play career tag as we'd catch up and pass each other with various new promotions on a regular basis.   We both continuously sought out new levels of professional experience and education.

Then we had you both.  Two amazing people who have provided more love and inspiration than I could ever imagine, leading me to write more than I ever had in my life.  For my maternity/parental year I focused on you, building our new lives as a family, my writing and I picked up a small contract with my work for several months to both show my post-parental dedication to my career and help me with the transition to my new life as a working mom.

Me and Molly, about a month before I returned to work.

On my first day back at the office I was so excited to have returned.  My day flew by, then half an hour before the end of the day I got a call that changed everything: one of you had spiked a fever and needed to come home immediately and not return to daycare until you were 24 hours symptom free.  I rushed out of the office, only to be faced with a 45 minute subway delay.  I wept all the way to daycare.  All of a sudden everything was different. I was torn between my ability to be a stand up employee and the mom I wanted to be at the same time.  In two words, it sucked.  Nearly three years later I still struggle.

I have always prided Chris and my equal relationship in our marriage and parenting.  Suddenly, I felt this equality was biting me. Chris was openly praised as this amazing dedicated dad and business professional and I felt like I was falling farther and farther behind as a 6-8pm parent who was struggling professionally.  It seemed like he was getting amazing professional support and accommodation for working from home, parental leave days and sympathy on being a working dad while I felt like I was under an unseen microscope as if I was unable to fully dedicate myself to a job. I continued to walk the tightrope of trying to prove myself to a new boss, using vacation time to care for sick children and getting incredibly sick myself on a regular basis, particularly in my first six months back.

Years later, as you continue to grow up and I continue to grow my career as a writer, I recognize that my title as a "mommy" blogger has a stigma attached to it that negates some of my credibility as a writer, but I continue to wear it as a proud badge (I've always had a thing for badges, just ask my Girl Guide leader). Anti-feminist movement and anti-women sentiment seemed to be a theme in 2014 as my rage began to boil. I wanted to both "lean in" and be a freaking awesome parent.

Molly, the other day you asked me if I was a woman and what that meant.  As we had our conversation about women and men you told me that you wanted to be a woman"RIGHT NOW" and not a little girl. I encouraged you to enjoy your youth, stating the obvious facts that you'll be an adult most of your life.

The truth is we have a lot of work to do as women and men before I'm ready for you to be a woman. I've never felt an urge to fight harder for my rights as a woman, as a professional and as a parent since you two have been born.  With all of the technology we have today to work remotely and allow for flexible hours it's shocking to see how many organizations are focused on hours of face time put in rather than production from individual employees.

I was raised in an environment filled with really strong women role-models, which I credit as one of the reasons why I didn't know about International Women's Day until recently.  I lived it each and every day.  On this International Women's Day, I am wishing I can provide you both the example I was and you never have to question how your gender impacts your professional or family needs and rights.  I will fight so hard to make sure that some major changes happen before you are both grown up.


To view my post for International Women's Day 2014 on princesses and the Bechdel Test click here.

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