I am obsessed with TED Talks. I’ve posted some here before on various subjects. I love listening to smart people talk about almost any subject. I’m a nerd. The headline of an article written by a TED contributor caught my eye recently, “It all started with pie crusts and pie charts.”
TED Contributor Dora Chomiak writes, “Why are we still talking about the labor force in terms of a 9-to-5 workday with a full-time homemaker? Is everyone too busy trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? Why not change the system?”
It’s like this woman was eavesdropping on my conversations with my friends. She goes on to tell of ideas to change the system, of people who are job-sharing, of evolving the conversation of what being a complete person looks like. It’s not necessarily one or the other: full-time professional or full-time parent.
Because the TED is not happy until I’m sucked further in and thinking some more, I came across two videos by Brene’ Brown. I realize I’m given to hyperbole, but seriously, she is sharing life-changing kind of ideas. It doesn’t sound sexy, but shame and vulnerability are about as important as it gets.
In the second video Brown talks about how shame is organized by gender. “For women, shame is: Do it all. Do it perfectly. And never let them see you sweat. … Shame for women is this web of unattainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be. And it’s a straight jacket. For men, shame is not a bunch of competing and conflicting expectations. Shame is one: Do not be perceived as weak.” (I actually typed it all up, so you wouldn’t miss it. Isn’t that thoughtful of me?)
Not that any of you have ever been fooled, but I don’t do it all perfectly. I sweat (and swear). A lot. The problem is, however nice and enlightened TED talks are, I work in the real world. I really like my job. I work with some of the best people I know. But my company doesn’t do flex-time or job-sharing. They’re not bad people or anything. It’s just not how they operate. So that means the square-peg, round-hole dilemma is not metaphorical for me. I spend my days constantly balancing conflicting, competing expectations. Stuff gets dropped every.single.day.
And make no mistake: I have it good. I have a fair boss, a supportive spouse, paid time off, quality child care and medical insurance. There are millions of working moms who can’t say that. I just keep thinking if it’s this hard for me, how do other people do it?
I don’t know where the proper balance is between pie crusts and pie charts is. I’m starting to wonder if anyone does.