There are so many lessons that I want to teach my daughter that it is daunting to me already. While I strive to teach my son the same things, they will bear different meaning to him as a man. Things such as body politics, sexuality, work-life balance, gender roles, equality, and “having it all” will be topics that are critical in my daughter’s life, as they have been in mine. Luckily I have a big feminist library from my days at Barnard College to use as a resource, but adding a new perspective is the recent book by Barnard President, Debora Spar, Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection (for more information about this book, go to: http://wonderwomenthebook.com/). In this book, Debora Spar uses her own experiences in the context of the post-feminism movement workplace to debunk the myth that women can “have it all.” Thinking about the message that Spar is sending in this book, I thought about what lesson on the challenges women face in the workplace would be the most useful to my daughter and the answer interestingly came from my days at Barnard.
My best piece of advice is: know who you are. One of my favorite teachers in middle school introduced me to the feminist movement and jump-started my process of self-discovery, but it was at Barnard that I solidified this sense of self. I didn’t have the answers to finding my perfect work-life balance at that time (as discussed here), but I at least formed the foundation of understanding who I am and what I want. With that groundwork, making future decisions about my work and family has been easier. Who I am is transparent to my friends and family and therefore they are better able to predict and understand my choices. Like Spar says in her book, no one can have it all. There are always going to be sacrifices along the way. Feeling confident in my own skin though allows me to make these choices with more confidence, grace, and peace. It hasn’t been an entirely smooth road, and as I discussed in the “Priorities” post, my work-life balance has evolved with my career. I am sure it will continue to change, as I grow and learn, but it will always be in line with my self-identity and will not purport to be perfect.
What is the best piece of advice you would give or have given your daughter about work-life balance? One comment will be chosen at random and that reader will get a signed copy of Debora Spar’s Wonder Women book!