Thursday, March 14, 2013

In a Twist

Williamsburg, 2013

I suppose I should actually read this Sheryl Sandberg book. The only hitch is that, as the working parent of a 7 month old, I haven't read a book since before he was born.

That said, I have read about 400 articles about Lean In in the last month, and so of course I have thoughts on the matter. And then there's the whole Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! thing, where she says everyone (including a slew of work-at-home mothers) has to report to the office, but has the clout to build a nursery next to her office. I guess something's in the ether?

It is hard to get past the nut graf of the articles on these women without feeling annoyed. Does Sheryl Sandberg really think I'm not ambitious enough? I would gladly stay later at the office if Axel were three feet away from me at all times. Do I have to want to be a Sandberg or a Mayer?

In many ways, in the years before Axel was born, I did exactly what Sandberg says not to do. I arranged my work life in anticipation of having children, reasoning that it would be wonderful to be a freelancer with a flexible schedule when I was raising bambinos. I was one of those women who would have driven Mayer nuts. I worked on projects and part time gigs and stories from coffee shops and it was all rather ad hoc and non-linear.

And yet. It was just that ad-hocness that meant I could travel spontaneously. Do I wish I had spent more time in the office in the past several years instead of in Laos, Vietnam, India, and Paris? Um, no. I got to do a lot of travel writing, which was a blast, and which would have been a lot harder to launch myself into later on, with a kiddo in tow. I also worked for a number of magazines and became pretty versatile, experimenting with tone, and form, and juggling deadlines.

Funnily enough, now that I do have a baby, I see the merits of a more stable working life. It's kind of exhausting to reinvent the wheel with a new project every month and it's nice to have longer term goals.  I do get more done at the office, and it's nice to have a work zone and a life zone that are somewhat separate. It's completely surprised me...who knew I'd actually like this arrangement? For now, that means working four days a week in an office. I am still grasping onto my fifth day at home like a life line.

But in the end, however my work life balance shakes out in the coming years, I'm still glad I leaned out when I did.

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