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|Here We Are Again, 50 Years Later|
Mar. 20th, 2013 at 10:49 am
On the news lately (like on the internet, in newspapers, in Time magazine, on NPR radio news –pay attention people!) there has been a good amount of discussion regarding Sheryl Sandberg’s new book “Lean in, – Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” It is another in a long line of books starting back 50 years ago with The Feminine Mystique by Betty Freidan that explores the hows and whys women can’t/aren’t succeeding a man’s world.
The usual firestorm of opinions over women’s proper roles in society have exploded between die-hard career women, stay-at-home- with –children women and women who are trying to have it all.
The drama hasn’t all been in the secular world. In past six months women in the LDS church have managed to score a respectable amount of publicity for their campaigns to increase women’s visibility in church services. There was the Women Wear Pants to Church Sunday and right now we are all holding our breath to see if the latest campaign, Women Praying in General Conference pays off. According to news sources, is it going to happen. If you haven’t watched General Conference in a while or ever, this drama alone should motivate you to check it out. I will be watching to see if more than one lucky woman prays during the two day world-wide series of religious broadcasts. (April 6-7, on satellite tv or live at lds.org – be there or be square) and as a true American, I will pay attention to outfits, make-up and hair styles. (Lighten up. I’m not the only shallow one in the room, folks.)
I don’t know if 2013 will turn out to be the Year of the Woman or not, but I have already had my personal revelation on this topic. As a wife, mother, small business owner and best friend extraordinaire, I have lived the struggle of balancing the needs of family, work, God and church without killing myself. A few years ago I found the answer. In a moment of clarity I wrote a blog about it. In the spirit of Not Recreating Work for Myself, Especially When I am Not Being Paid, I am cutting and pasting the best parts of my old post here. Not to worry, I deleted the semi-swear words so as not to offend sensitive eyes. Just know I am 100% passionate about this.
“Here is the reason for my rage/frustration/Incredible Hulk transformation: It is a huge, frickin’ lie. The whole thing. Liar, liar, pants on fire. I’m talking about people (mainly women because I am one and I am sensitive to the girl perspective) who have the chutzpah to write magazine articles, books and have cable tv shows about How To Do It All.
You know the kind – How to Organize Your Life to Do More, How To Be A Celebrity With A tv Show and Author and Full Time Mom, How To Clean Everything and Host Fabulous Parties In Your Spare Time, How To Be A Size Two and Corporate Executive and Rule the World. Blah, blah, blah.
I blame Martha Stewart for creating the lie of perfection in the home, Jane Fonda for the lie of perfection of body and Oprah for the lie of perfection in business. Whatever. As soon as one talking head gets off the soapbox, another one jumps up and starts hawking her version of “If You Would Just Get Off Your Lazy Butt, You Could Have It All.”
It is like the new improved version of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Suck it up and soldier on. And we are stupid enough to think it’s true.
We sleep less than ever, we all live on caffeine, sugar, energy drinks and chocolate trying to wring out one last morsel of energy from our day so we can accomplish one more thing. It is crazy. I knew it intellectually and I could see it in the faces of my friends straining under the heavy burden of just surviving another day in the jungle. But I couldn’t place exactly where the problem was.
It is like there are two camps of people. One camp is full of CEOs, tycoons and people who effortlessly can do it all. These are people who swear they accomplish so much because they only need three hours of sleep. The other camp is the rest of humanity. People who wake up tired, drag themselves to work and do what must be done. There are no accolades for them. No one wants to interview them to find out their secret to getting dried- on catsup stains out of the only decent blouse they own. They are underachieving nobodies who need to get better calendaring aps for their smart phones.
In the last month my eyes have been opened to the Truth. Here it is. They have HELP. All of them. Oprah has come clean, revealing the hundreds of employees who create her shows, sets and wardrobe. Every single person who is out there selling us books, organizational programs and mops designed to help us be successful just like them, has a minion of little people who do the cooking, cleaning and heavy lifting to make it possible for them to be free to be fabulous. How do I know this for a fact? I’ll tell you.
I got myself Help. I now have a smart, wonderful minimum wage college kid desperate for employment who is helping me with the herculean tasks of moving my family, my business and my aging parents to another state. She has changed my life. I no longer answer the phone, not even for friends. She deals with all grumpy people. She sat on the phone for four hours last week with a customer service voice in India, working on getting a new piece of computer software working properly. She has run to the store, dropped papers off at the accountant and even walked the moving guys through every room of my house explaining what we will be taking to Iowa so they could give us a proper estimate of their cost. Whatever I need done or don’t want to do, she does it.
In all 43 years of my life I have never had so much free time. I am eating better, sleeping better and even got a massage yesterday. This is how the successful people do it. They don’t. The key to success is not killing yourself trying to do more. It is getting someone else to do it.
The added bonus to all this good news is I am also helping to stimulate the economy by giving someone a job. How great is that? I am already ahead of myself in my new-found awesomeness. Maybe I should write a book about it.”
That post was written two years ago while I was in the middle of moving. I had the money to hire an assistant. She changed my life. I tried to stuff her in my suitcase and drag her to Iowa with me, but her family was rude about it. Something about kidnapping and crossing state lines.
I am now back in the land of the lower middle class, unable to afford the genteel comfort of Help. What I learned from my short foray into the world of Successful Living, is that I did too much. I think about things differently now. I can’t afford to hire cleaning help, so I got rid of a ton of crap that I don’t want to keep organized. I don’t have an automatic dishwasher, so I use paper plates (environmentally sound ones, of course) on a regular basis. I am much more willing to pay people to do things I used to stress myself out struggling to do. I can’t afford full-time help, but I can afford $10 for the neighborhood kid to rake leaves.
Not feeling like I am personally responsible for every task that comes within my sight line is a gift. Until my husband strikes it rich (unlike Ms.” Lean In”, Sheryl Sandberg, I married for love. Dang it.) and I can once again afford the comforts of a well-kept life, I am lessening my load in every way I possibly can. That is probably the best a woman- without -means can expect.
I won’t be wasting my precious pennies on another book written by a woman who hasn’t sorted her own laundry in decades. Instead I am going to save my money to hire the kid next door to cut my lawn.