Where’s my Lean In Tribe?

Lean In

I’m leaning in, friends. For me, for my daughter, for my mother and father that told me I could be anything I wanted to be if I just worked hard enough, and, of course, for Sheryl.

I have no desires to stop, to back up, or to slow down, and this feeling just sets me on fire inside. When I see other women climbing the mountain with me, I can’t help but swell with pride that we are part of the same tribe, and I feel even more empowered. But there’s a problem in this Cinderella fantasy of mine. There’s just too many of us repelling down the mountain. And I have to be honest…seeing these smart, amazingly intelligent, educated, and capable women leaning back crushes me inside just a little bit.

{Let me stop right here for one small second. If you know me personally, you’d know that I don’t come from a place of judgement in any way. I am equally as proud of any woman making any choice in how they handle mothering – how their family gets it all done, or when/where and how they choose to work. Be it raising children, keeping a house, running a small business, or the CEO of a major tech company…I’m proud of all mothers!}

What I am majorly worried about it is the lack of mothers staying in the workplace, establishing themselves as leaders, pushing, driving, grinding, and leaning in as far as their manicured hands can get them. I’m worried about how incredibly hard it is to delay marriage and motherhood for education and career establishment. And then stair-step babies as fast as you can before you are “too old” {35 in babymaking land}. And then please don’t forget to keep hustlin’ in everything you are doing. And make sure to “default parent”…network…make lunches…stay relevant in your industry…chase away the monsters…lead board meetings…exercise and maintain a healthy marriage and relationships.

I’ll stop there, but we know that’s just a sample of a very tough gig. So mothers…they choose to jump off, and sadly they don’t get back on in the same spot.

And then it happens.

Those mothers still climbing are searching for mentors, and they find them few and far between. In that realization the lean in tribe question themselves. Maybe I should step back? Maybe it’s impossible? {And you know, I’m so tired!} I’ll use Healthcare since this is my industry. Women make up 78.4% of the workforce and hold 14.6% of executive offices. And that’s women, not necessarily mothers. I am so lucky that my own boss of ten years is a mother with three kids of her own. I’ve never been afraid to say I was pregnant, never worried about her perception of me when I have to take 3 days off to deal with the stomach bug ripping though my house, and heck, she’s sat in my office with me on a conference call while I’ve pumped {don’t tell anyone!}. But when I look out beyond her, the tribe looks rather small.

I’m not quite sure what to do? Hopefully, the conversation that has been sparked about maternity leave in this country will catch wind, and the norms can be changed allowing mothers an easier path to staying in the workplace. Maybe we can keep talking about the gender pay gap until it starts to change. Maybe as the generation of women inspired by Sheryl Sandberg move higher up the ladder, they will use that inspiration to keep on keeping on, and the tribe will slowly but surely grow bigger. Maybe you are like me and have your own little leaned in tribe that inspires and challenges each other {and who provides the most fabulous pep talks a girl could ask for}.

Or maybe it just starts with all of us already in the trenches…reaching out, picking up, encouraging, and setting great attainable examples. See you in the Board Room!

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Sarah, a New Orleans native, transplanted to Houston after Hurricane Katrina and has never looked back. Mom to big sister Maggie {Aug 2011} who keeps her on her toes, the most adorable little brother Jack {Nov 2013}, and one final addition arriving in August 2016! Sarah is constantly striving to have it all as she juggles working on the managerial and operational end of the healthcare industry, planning adventurous weekends to explore all Houston has to offer with her husband and kids, and keeping up with friends and family. You can follow along with Sarah’s daily life on Instagram at @sarahschnure.

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