Leaning In, Cleaning Up

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Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In wants to see a world where women run half of all businesses and men command half of all households. That’s equality, she says. Clearly she hasn’t met my husband. I shudder to think of the disaster we’d face if we turned the household over to him. He’s the first to admit that he couldn’t do my job.

Sometimes I think my darling husband plays dumb just to get out of the mundane tasks. It’s remarkable that he can’t tell the difference between clean and dirty dishes in the dishwasher. His solution? Don’t unload those in question and just stick the newly soiled items in, then rerun the machine. Imagine this Harvard grad with a Master’s degree unable to discern washed from unwashed? He earns the big bucks for solving tricky business quandaries and yet he is stumped by the dishes.

My gender doesn’t make me more qualified for this role. My efficiency does. I have always been able to multi-task. And I’m pretty darn good at it. I work from home so that I can tackle everything that needs to be done: client calls often happen while laundry is folded; emails are sent while the sheets are dried; medical appointments are scheduled while  aforementioned dishes are sorted. And my loyal companion, Roomba, roams all the while. Meanwhile off the deck in my home “office” I gaze out towards all the things I’d rather be doing.

So, unlike Ms. Sandberg, who suggests that women are filled with self-doubt about whether they are good enough to succeed in the work place, I question why someone–namely me–who has so much potential isn’t enjoying promotions and paychecks?

The path that I have selected is far from lucrative. And needless to say my sabbatical isn’t contributing much to the household’s funds–yet. I am currently dabbling in several projects–some may pay off, others not so much. My latest labor of love is trying to entice agents with my children’s book creation. It’s a quirky story that celebrates unconventional dreams and plays with traditional gender roles. Thus far it hasn’t fetched any takers.

Doesn’t anybody realize that if we want to affect change we have to engage conversation with the youngest audience? As the leader of the household I see this—not the omnipresent chores–as my real job all day, every day. It would certainly be nice if the COOs rolling in millions would capture the attention of youth instead of aiming to teach old dogs new tricks, like doing the dishes.

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Ugh. Boston.

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Ugh. Boston.

A direct quote from one of my most brilliant, articulate friends. It’s all we have to say because we cannot find the words. Again. As a nation we are left speechless in the wake of yet another tragic, disgusting event that leaves us to wonder what has happened to humanity?

All week I have been careful to keep my kids from media coverage. I was relatively successful until this morning when the radio in the car announced the latest in the unfolding of events in Boston, Watertown and Cambridge*–my former stomping grounds.

Immediately my 8-year-old questioned what had happened. I explained in my best don’t-scare-the-children version that people in Boston had been hurt earlier in the week by a big explosion and that the police were looking for the people who had caused it. Too quick is my child. She pointed out that one of those people had died. Then she point-blank suggested the other be killed as well.

Is this what we have come to in our morning commutes with our children–our babies? How do we go from belting out Katy Perry to discussing bombs, terror plots and capital punishment?

I thought last week’s tackling of boobs and internet safety was challenging. This is far more twisted. I can’t take back what my kids already know, but I can have conversations that really make them consider right and wrong, and how they should foster the good in themselves and see the best in others.

Meanwhile, it’s an uphill battle, but I will do whatever I can to keep them young at heart for as long as I can. Directly after I bid them farewell I went to their school library for some weekend reading. What could be better than to escape into the worlds of Ramona, Beezus and Captain Underpants?

*I have posted this image previously, but couldn’t resist using it here as well. No matter what evil has invaded the city Cambridge will always be this to me. My thoughts are with you all there.

Glory Days

I recently realized where I went wrong: I wasn’t knocked up in high school. Nor was I an adolescent alcoholic. And no sexual dalliances were ever leaked online. My dysfunctions were never exploited for public entertainment, and certainly not so by my momager. Wow, I was am boring. And boring is definitely not profitable. But perhaps in my next lifetime I will come back as a much more trashy version of myself and cash in on my indiscretions.

The latest person who has found fame and fortune through pure poor decision making is Farrah Abraham from MTV’s series Teen Mom. I’m all in favor of the network airing the young mothers’ struggles in an effort to decrease teen pregnancies and to help steer kids toward positive change. But somehow the intentions have been distorted. For one thing, more than several of these young women have put their financial gains into breast implants and hair extensions. Initially, I thought this was idiotic, but now I view the strategy as ingenious. With flowing hair and bouncing boobs, Farrah has landed her own spin off. And more disturbing, she has reportedly penned a New York Times Bestseller called My Teenage Dream Ended.

Yeah, my teenage dream ended as well.  But the only thing I came close to birthing in high school was an ulcer. That’s when I was holed up in the library, having given up my lunch period, to study. I committed every afternoon, and sometimes early mornings, to one of my three varsity sports practices. I recall Saturday nights dedicated to SAT vocabulary words and college essay writing. And I completed my community service hours, not because it looked good on those applications but because I enjoyed the effort. This is what I was doing instead of getting high and sleeping around– but that memoir would not be a bestseller.

So perhaps with degrees from my tony New York City private school, Harvard College and Tufts University, I’m not that wise and worldly after all. I could have spent my more formative years shirking responsibility and profiting from the outcome. My bucket list would have been so much more interesting.

Instead, being responsible has proved quite dull and sometimes draining. Just ask Kate Middleton, who bears the burden now of no longer being able to sunbathe topless. It’s hard to be a gorgeous royal role model who is allowed to do no wrong!

No, I don’t aspire to be Farrah or Snooki or a Kardashian, and I most definitely don’t want to raise a Honey Boo Boo. But it would be nice to have been a little (ok, a lot) less reserved. My parents always said that I was born thirty-five. And not a free-spirited thirty-five. So that would put me at pushing seventy-one. I had better get living then!

Today I am going nuts. Throwing caution to the wind. I’m blowing off responsibility and treating myself to something completely unproductive and frivolous.  I’m off to enjoy a foot massage– one that includes back, neck and shoulders to boot.

I just need to switch the laundry and make those damn beds first.