This year I’m going to throw a party. A year long celebration of something I haven’t quite defined yet. This is my, dare I say it, New Year’s resolution.
I saw a dear friend recently. We were meeting up with our two kids of roughly the same age in tow, and we had a great conversation, in the moments that we weren’t chasing after our kids. And the conversation worked its way around to careers – she just got a very impressive PhD and is thinking through next steps.
And in this conversation, we talked about the way that being a mother and a professional can have a slight dampening effect on one’s career. She mentioned how rare it was to meet a tenured female professor with kids. The reasons for this phenomenon boils down to something we called, for the purpose of simplicity, “choices.”
No blame, no victims, just choices.
The choices I make are not just about being with my children, but about trying to create some sort of whole life. But it feels like unchartered territory and every move is shadowed by a totally useless sense that I’m not making the right choices. What has been most useful to me in this process is conversations with women who are a few years ahead of me working on this same project of making a life. Women with kids or serious commitments to family, with careers, with a powerful sense of their unique contribution to the world. I have met a few of these women over the course of my life, and they amaze and inspire me.
They impact people’s lives, care for their families, and walk in the world as pioneers of a new kind of achievement. One that, as far as I know, remains largely uncelebrated. And it absolutely should be celebrated. Hence the New Year’s resolution. To more fully understand and celebrate this thing that some women do so beautifully and that I would like to do well. Rather than aim to “master” this ability to create a multi-faceted life, I’d like to commit to celebrating the women who inspire me, and to imagine a world where people (not just women) are honored for the wholeness of their life, not just the spikes in their ability to lead others, make money, make a name for themselves.
So, rather than wish for a different world, I’ll see if I can help build it, one celebration at a time. Stay tuned…and share your thoughts here on what a “whole life” looks like and who inspires you.