When I was young, my parents took me on my first trip to Washington, D.C. as part of a sales competition that my mom won at work. It was my first time to a big city and I can positively say that trip set the stage for my future.
Of course, this was well before 9-11 in the Clinton Administration so tours of the White House took place daily and often. My parents and I were fortunate enough to be part of a group embarking on the trip that started on the front lawn and weaved up the huge staircases onto the House’s main floor.
When we were in one of the elegantly-clad rooms, I asked one of the Secret Service Agents at the red velvet rope where Socks was (if you don’t remember, this was the Clinton’s first feline). Jokingly, he pulled up one of his pant legs to show me, well, his sock.
That act was a done deal for me. I wanted to become President. The first female President. Luckily for me, that deal is still on the table so move over Oprah 2020.
Of course, like all dreams, that one has set sail into the sunset and my ambitions have morphed from being the First Female President to an FBI Agent (thank you bad eyes for screwing up that one) to becoming a Trophy Wife (I mean, I did receive the superlative of “Most Likely to Be a Trophy Wife” at one of my sorority’s formals) to wanting to make decent money and raise a family. Boy, how times have changed.
I don’t consider myself a feminist. In fact, I see myself as far from that. In my mind, the gender gaps with job positions and pay are just a side effect of our deep reality as a species and as a country. No use fighting it.
To me, there is something extremely endearing about taking on the Susie Homemaker role of a wife and mother. Of making dinner for my husband and packing lunches for my kids. I grew up extremely close to my Bubba who did just those things and instilled in me the belief to “love, honor and obey” my future husband. Those beliefs are almost a way for me to keep her memory alive. In reality, it comes down to my desire to be compassionate and loving.
As I grow, I am realizing more and more the power behind being a successful working woman and a loving wife and mother. To me, in my current reality, those two work hand-in-hand and nothing could be more ambitious on my part.
Tonight I started to read “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. Within the first handful of pages, her words stood out to me, specifically when she wrote that men are promoted based on their potential while women are promoted based on their past successes.
I am so angry at that realization–angry that it’s true and angry at myself for only now recognizing how true that is and the magnitude that it has on our current and future workforce of women. Within seconds of reading that, I was able to find specific examples of that statement holding true in my professional life.
It really is disheartening.
This to me is not significant that men are taking over or truly are smarter, better looking, healthier and a million other things than women. To me, it’s significant that for too long women like myself have conformed to what is expected and let outside views manipulate us into who we are today. The sickening part is that we–I–let this happen.
At the end of the day, I’m going to be an executive. I’m going to make the money I desire, the money I’m worth. I’m going to be the loving, compassionate wife and mother. I’m going to go to Yoga, shop at Whole Foods and volunteer to save all of the homeless puppies. I’m going to live the life I imagine. I’m going to have it all because I am HUMAN and that is my birthright. Sit back and try to stop me.