I'm on the board of an organization called Mpls MadWomen. We're working towards gender equality in marketing, advertising and creative fields through stimulating conversation and actionable takeaways to evoke change. Whoa. Single and married, with kids and without kids, career newbies and seasoned #ladybosses, our diverse board met for a weekend retreat to plan our 2016 events and initiatives. Part of the retreat involved exercises to get to know each other better. One activity involved choosing 6 words that describe each person in the room. I wish I could have just picked "badassbitch" (one word) for everyone.
One of the most common words used to describe me was "cool." I laughed outloud because I have no idea what kind of vibes I'm putting out that would indicate any coolness about me. Is it the casual snot blob on my pant leg? Or the 3-day old mascara I've been rocking as a smokey eye? Maybe it's the dread on the back of my head that certainly has an animal living in it. Whatever it is, I'm honored to be considered a cool mom amongst so many other cool people (seriously, one of the women was repeatedly and accurately described as "smoldering").
It's amazing even when you're struggling to feel like yourself, and you're running on fumes in every aspect of life, other women see you for you and lift you up. Clearly, they knew I needed to feel put together and awesome, even though I've recently had to take a backseat in the organization.
We should do this kind of "I see you, cool mom" acknowledgement for all women. No matter what stage of life we're in, we're constantly pinned against each other for that one female seat at the table, the best bake sale items (f*** that), or the most participation in our children's lives. We can't do it all without each other's support that leaning out of those areas should be seen as OK.
One thing the MadWomen board does to support each other is a lean out system. Each member has a buddy to tap when they need to step out of the crazy for whatever reason, be it work, health, family or just needing a break. It would be interesting to see a work environment that allowed for this kind of flexibility. The potential for an increase in productivity and retention and decrease in negative attitudes and burnout.
Organizational change like this wouldn't be met without its challenges and coordination, as it takes the entire group to buy into it, and we can't all lean out at the same time. But perhaps change isn't such a bad thing and maybe my group of #ladybosses is onto something.