Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Scarlet M

You know, there was a time in my life when I really didn't understand sexism.  My understanding of it was limited to 1) it's dumb and 2) it doesn't effect me.  I have always thought of myself as a feminist who isn't afraid to go after what I want and won't let the fact that I'm a girl stand in my way.  And for the most part, no one ever did--hence, my belief I was immune to sexism.  I had a baby and it changed everything.

Suddenly I felt marked. You know, the scarlet M for mommy. I felt like any time I showed a hint of emotion or weakness at work I would be immediately relegated to the mommy track. That's not because anyone put me there, that was just what was in my own head. It took a lot for me to come around and realize that the feminist thing to do is to be authentic and to admit what I want and to go for it.  No matter what that something was, it was the right thing for me.  I'm not weak for missing my baby when I'm at work and I'm not weak for wanting to work part-time for a while. It doesn't mean that I don't value my career, or that I'm not a hard worker, or that I'm any less important than a man.  I'm different from the men, because I'm not a man.  And that doesn't mean I'm less than a man. I'm just different.  I have come to realize that going for what I need for a fulfilling life no matter what it is, is always the feminist human thing to do.

In other news it is beautiful out, yet no run for me today.  A long time ago I agreed to take a law student to lunch to impart career advice and do a little networking. I love doing things like this, but at the same time the only time I can get a run in on work days is during my lunch hour right now so I had to sacrifice a run which hurt! I am feeling really good and just want to get out there and put some miles on my legs! I suppose it's probably a good thing to impose some speed bumps on myself so I don't overdo it.  It has been about 9 or 10 days since I've had a day off.  I can get out my excitement on the track tomorrow. Yeah! Maybe it's the weather, but I am seriously feeling the itch to train like nothing I've ever felt before. I am so excited to get out there and have some fun. I just wish I had a little more freedom to get in the miles. It will come, I'm sure.

But really, I am glad I went to the lunch.  The student was really excited about his impending career and it seemed like my advice held some resonance.  It was actually a fun time and I had a really nice Vietnamese lunch (vegetarian spring roll vermicelli bown with cucumbers and peanuts--mmmm).  What's really scaring me though is that I did not run, went out to lunch and am still sitting here starving and holding myself back from devouring the brown bag lunch I brought on the off-chance my law student date cancelled. Help!



jsmarslender said...

I felt that way too, when I decided to seek part-time. One of my administrators came back to me with this answer: other women have had babies and come back to work full-time, so you will too. Ultimately we did find a way to allow me more hours at home this semester, but it was tough. And you can be made to feel littler or less ambitious for wanting something other (or more) than your career at this particular time.

Be bold. You seem to be firm in your decision and you'll likely be happier for making it happen. I hope that any meetings you have with your superiors go smoothly.

And yea for wanting to train. I'm in a bit of a slump but that just means things will pick up later.

jsmarslender said...

I'd missed your previous post. Good for you for talking with your boss. I hope things work out well.

DC Running Mama said...

I'll tell you what I tell myself:>

Own it. Own that you know that life is short and that your precious baby is only a baby once and that you choose the bigger things in life. You will work for a LONG time. Seriously long. You probably have a good 30-40 more years in you. You can make up for the time you take off now later. And, if you can't, so what! Your career isn't going to change the world, but you do have the opportunity to have a huge impact on someone very small right now.

I'm so glad they decided to support your part-time work.

And...I hear you about missing running for other priorities...its hard, but sometimes life has to get in the way of running or we would end up hating running for ruling our life! Scarcity makes things more valuable!

Mindi said...

Yep. Try going cold turkey from full time lawyer to stay-at-home mom. I definitely know what you are talking about. Even know when I discuss the last several years, people look like I am nuts when I say I took almost 7 years off for my kids. But I say it with pride. It is who I am and it makes me a better person/parent/attorney for it.

My mantra always was, my kids will only be babies once, the law will always be there. You can replace "the law" with lots of things in that phrase. And I highly recommend it for anyone trying to find (and justify) balance between family and everything else.

Clare said...

i wish mommy-ing were more valued. i would LOVE to go part time and i think it would be the ideal for so many women, especially when they are so little. every woman who makes it happen sends a positive message and i just hope more companies/employers realize that part time means more commitment to the job, not less, because you can get rid of the guilt of leaving the kid.