In the last few weeks, I’ve been searching for answers. Answers to make sense of Hillary Clinton’s election loss, to explain the undercurrent of hate bubbling up in every “safe” corner of our world.
And, most importantly, what I can and need to do about it all.
Like so many women, HRC’s loss was a personal one. It was another reminder that no matter how long we wait, how hard we work, how many tests we pass, it’s just not enough. It brought me to tears – for Hillary, for the people who worked tirelessly for her campaign, and for all of us.
Soon, my tears started to flow for my girls. And, that’s when I stopped crying and took Lena Denham’s advice to heart:
It’s time to fight.
Listen, I know I’m sitting pretty here in Canada with a Prime Minster who has repeatedly proclaimed to be a feminist (yay). Yet, the impact of the US president-elect and the permission he has given to spread ideas of hate cannot be contained by borders.
And, let’s be honest, even here, I’ve experienced a backlash to my decisions and desires as a working mom. Even though it was never okay and I tried to address it in those moments, ultimately, I accepted it.
All with one thought in mind: if I juggled the demands of motherhood while working and making it all look easy, I’d convince the greatest skeptics and things will be better, easier.
Not for me, but for my girls.
Because never, ever, do I want anyone to doubt my girls’ dreams or hold them back in any way from achieving their full potential. I wouldn’t want that for your little ones either.
So, to do our part, here our three ways we can begin to clear the path not only for our daughters and sons, but the working mom’s and women that come before them.
1. See something? Say something.
I first moved to the US shortly after 9/11, a time when New York City banded together in its fight against terrorism. Every citizen was called up to be vigilant. If we spotted an unattended black bag on the train, for example, we needed to report it.
The same is true here. If you hear someone questioning a new working mom’s commitment to her job, give an example of how she’s already proven her commitment. If a young woman on the team is interrupted by a more senior colleague; call out the bad behavior and give her back the floor. Whatever the situation may be, you need to speak up.
Sure, doing so may not fundamentally change the way someone thinks. But, now is not the time to let these subtle forms of bias pass without notice. By providing an alternative perspective, you can help neutralize some of this thinking and put others on notice that such discouraging comments are unacceptable.
2. Mentor a woman
Listen, I know as a working mom, the last thing you need is another thing to do. But, mentoring doesn’t always have to be a time-consuming commitment. If you have the time to take on a formal mentoring relationship, then please go for it.
But, if you don’t, you can still mentor someone. All it takes is asking a question, sharing your experience or offering words of encouragement.
So, look for that young woman that shows you something special. Or find that newly pregnant mama in your group. Then, begin a conversation. Ask them about a specific project they’re working on or if they’ve figured out their plan to transition their work before maternity leave. Or you can share a piece of advice or offer a resource to help them with a specific task.
Whatever you choose, the aim here is to start a supportive conversation and signal to the other woman that they have an ally in you.
3. Talk to your daughters and sons
Here’s the reality: a father is rarely, if ever, asked how he balances work with his family. It’s because the idea that daddy works and mommy stays home to care for the family and home remains an assumption in our society that continues to make its way into the minds of our children.
So, it’s up to us to talk about it. Yes, we do it for the paycheck it provides our family, but we also do it for other reasons. We need to openly talk about the work we do, the joy we get from working, the example it sets for them, and how it helps us be better moms.
The more you talk, the more normal it will be – for your family and for the family your little one may grow to have one day.
So, there you have it, three ways we can support working women today, so together, we can clear the path for the next generation to come. Please give these a go and then tell me what happened when you did.
Thank you for reading!