Leaning in

I recently started reading Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller Lean In, which explores the factors holding women back from leadership roles and issues a friendly bum kick to her fellow sisters: know what you want, be brave, take risks, work hard, love it, own it, get it and be proud.

The book landed on my table by chance after a work colleague of Chris told him how inspiring it was and that I should read it.  Of course I know who Sheryl Sandberg is.  Yes, I was aware that she wrote this book of hard truths that caused societal waves.  But I  never sought it out, subconsciously figuring that the power house that is Facebook’s COO was just too hard core for me to relate to.

A couple of chapters in, I’m enjoying Sheryl’s apt observations, and I’m struck by my incorrect perception of her: once you strip back all the pomp and circumstance, she’s a regular woman, a woman with strong ambition, but also a woman with self doubts and fear.  Critically, she’s learned to embrace this whole package and not kowtow to the many perceptions, including my own, of who she is or who she should be.

So what has struck a chord?

That women tend to hold themselves back with self doubt and by being self deprecating. That it’s fine to acknowledge that support and luck help in life, but vital to recognise our strengths and where we kick as because of our talent.

Women’s self inflicted deterence toward achievement due to cold, unfavourable perceptions of women who reach the top of their game.  They must be sacrificing their family life.  They must be a cold bitch to get where they are.  Really?  Would we think the same of men?

That reaching for the stars in our pursuits (be that a professional job, tennis or home making) is something we need to embrace and be proud of.  That balances can be achieved and that some give here or there isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Thanks Sheryl, I look forward to the rest of my read.  Have you read Lean In and if so, what did you think?

 

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Where is my mind?

Good question, Pixies.  My feet are often in the air and my head is on the ground and I’m rushing.  Rushing for that train.  Rushing from grand plans to child dinner plans.  Rushing the kids to school, to dance, to get out the door.  Resolute rushing.  Residual rushing.

I’m sick of all the rushing!  I’m at a point my life where I know this isn’t necessary.  I’m not suggesting we all throw out our watches and leave timekeeping to chance.  I’m talking about being better focused and organised so I leave in good time, and if for some reason I’m late, to remember that it isn’t the end of the world and I don’t need to get stressed.

I’m not even regularly late, but that’s often thanks to the rushing.  And that’s where I need the ability to actually leave that little bit earlier and generally slow down.

This is easier done when I’m moving me alone rather than ferrying children from here to there, which is often the case.  Children make the tortoise look spry.   They have an amazing ability to need a poo as soon as you’ve laced up their shoes to go out the door.

The first day that I drove C back to school after the Christmas holidays we left the house with little time to spare.  By the time we got to school there was no parking anywhere within a 5 minute radius so I prepped the kids that we were going to need to move and fast.

And two minutes later I saw myself, three feet ahead of C, racing down the pavement like a crazed bull while M wailed for us to slow down 10 feet back.  And in that moment I had to stop and take a long hard look at myself.  Had I lost my mind?  Was C even going to be late?  No, as there’s about a 10 minute grace period after the bell rings.   And if she was, would it be the end of the world?  She’s only ever been late once in Reception.  Do I want to instil in the kids that panicked rush is the norm or explain that if we actually get ourselves ready and leave that bit earlier, we can have a fun relaxing trip to school where we actually talk to each other about the ponies in the field and the sap coming out of the tree.

I’m done with rushing for trains, to school, in general.  Long may this plan prevail!

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Running for 6 year-olds

Most Saturday mornings at 7:15am you’ll find me headed out for a run.  No, I’m not insane, and no, I don’t have a thing for grey mornings and drizzle, or the dull damp sweat that follows.  It’s near impossible to glisten after a morning’s run in UK winter.

The kids know this is my routine because that’s what it is- my routine, my window for health and fitness, my time to work my body and air my mind.  They’ve grown up seeing me do it, and their dad also runs a fair bit too.

And from early on, they’ve gotten involved.  What are you doing mommy?  I can do that stretch too!  Or M’s approach: how about a stretch with a toddler airplane on your leg? I can report it doesn’t intensify the stretch, it just causes damage.

At nearly 6, C has decided to grow the family running party and has begun asking to go on runs!  In the last few weeks she’s done three with Chris, and her lithe little legs are clocking an 11 minute mile.  He’s keen to carry on these father/daughter runs, but I’m sure we ladies will go for a jaunt together soon enough.

What’s fantastic is that she’s genuinely enjoying it, and is the one asking us to take her.  Be it youthful energy, interest, endorphins, whatever, she has none of the hesitations about just getting her foot out the door.  On that, I should take notes.

Randomly and since this new trend, a couple of different friends have told us their daughters of a similar age have either been for a run or have asked to go on one.  Maybe it’s about this time that they’ve got the attention and stamina to commit to a jog.

Chris has now been talking about taking C to our local 2k Junior Parkrun but she seems a little hesitant to run en masse.  I have visions of a colleague’s young daughter in floods of tears on a sports course because she clearly didn’t want to be there and I don’t want to be that parent.  So if she tries it, it will be because she’s up for it.

For now, it’s family jogs for us.  I’m interested to see if she’ll inherit her dad’s competitive spirit or my metronomic pacing.  I imagine it’s only a matter of time until M wants to trot along too!

Do you run with your children?  Any tips?

 

 

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Friday Funnies: only 1 wife

M may often talk robot or become all consumed by his car track when I chatting to him about the ways of the world.  But low and behold he is listening, as new evidence from our childminder presents.  Of course this story is related to marriage, because that seems to be one of my children’s favourite subjects to riff on…

Babysitter: M, you lucky boy!  You get to next to your girlfriend Isabella!  She’s back from her holidays today.

M: No, she’s only my friend.  (seriously)

Babysitter: Oh, that’s not what you said before!

M: Well, mommy said I can’t marry two girls ….Don’t tell Isabella, but I’m going to marry Hope!

I’m glad I’m not talking to myself.  Maybe our next chat will be about not toying with girls’ affections! :)

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Taking stock

We’ve moved!  There was last minute drama, there was stress and even some tears.  But now that the deed it done, it feels right.

I now write from our Charlie and Chocolate Factory-esque reception room housing our table, our air bed, a couple of chests of drawers, our sofas, our Christmas tree and a number of suitcases and brown boxes stacked at the perimeter.  The couple who lived here previously had serious affection for textured, coloured wallpaper and artex so we’re on the cusp of decorating upstairs before moving into the bedrooms.

It was mad seeing our home of 10 years dismantled before our eyes.  As we boxed everything up, reminders of our pre-children life surfaced – scrap boxes of gig tickets and traveling photos, my Pilates scrapbook, Chris’ half created box of canvases and paints, the discarded start of my first novel- precipitating a dose of nostalgia.

I like to think of it as the past inspiring the present.  Maybe it’s time to revisit that novel draft (now that I’ve written my first children’s book – still no agent but I’m trying), who’s to say I can’t tackle a novel!

Once a friend (male, 20s, no kids) asked me what it was like after C was born.  The question caught me a little off guard as I navigated the myriad of thoughts that sprang to mind…the relief she was out…the love….the awful lochia no one warned me about…the fact we promised ourselves that we wouldn’t change with a child, but had to readjust, now responsible for another human being.  I’m pretty I focused on this last point.

In taking stock of my life over the past 10 years, I see a story of a family that’s grown from two early 20s newly married nutters with more freedom than we realised to a crazy scrumming loving family with more responsibilities but still our zest.  I always say a happy mom and happy dad make for happy kids, and I’m pleased that Chris and I haven’t lost our individual essence over the years, even if some of our interests have become latent.

This move’s proving a good chance to stir the pot methinks.  Plus it’s 2016, and resolution time…

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