When Cheryl Sandberg published Lean In in 2013, she revitalized and refreshed the cultural conversation we have about mothers in the workforce. Even the valid criticism of the book and "lean in" philosophy (chief among them that "leaning in" largely speaks to already well-to-do women of corporate America) has opened up discussions about women's jobs, careers, opportunities, and the structure of employment itself. Many ambitious women, inspired by Sandberg's message, have taken up Lean In as a rallying cry to achieve, so I have questions for the mom who has accomplished so much in her career since having children. Because while I've read the book and the million think pieces left in its wake, I'm still continually gobsmacked when I encounter a mother who has achieved (or even maintained) professional advancement after parenthood. Because OMG how?
The birth of my first child didn't do much to alter my career one way or the other. I stayed at my job, doing what I was supposed to do basically as I always had, but I didn't lean in, largely because just getting back into the swing of things with a 3-month-old baby at home was challenging. After the birth of my second child almost three years later, I left the workforce completely. I leaned out. That didn't last terribly long, because here I am, working for the fine folks at Romper, penning these essays for your enjoyment, so I guess I leaned back in but in a completely different career.
Sometimes it feels like I started all over again, which isn't a bad thing and it isn't not an accomplishment. However, I'll admit that some days it's like, "What am I doing? Where am I going? How do I grow from here?" So when I see other moms who have managed to seize their career by the cajones, there is so much about all of that I want to know, including the following: