A few weeks ago, I kicked off my new award series, the WM Working Mom Hero Awards. The first award went to Meryl Streep, who I think we can all agree is pretty much amazing and fantastic, having raised four children, had a stay-at-home husband long before anyone did that, is the most nominated actress despite her many failed projects, and she always plays strong females. If you’re not familiar with this new series, you might be wondering, what’s the point?
The point is this: mommy guilt is a drain of precious energy yet we all struggle with it in some form or another. I’ve noticed a trend that traffic to my site peaks when I write about certain topics – and one of them is the challenges facing working moms. You all know by now that I think work-life balance doesn’t exist but instead life ebbs and flows, we make choices, and our priorities shift: sometimes we’re more work focused, sometimes we’re more home-focused, but having both balance out at the same time is just not realistic. I think the reason traffic peaks when I write about work-life choices or work-life ebb and flow, is because sometimes we each feel like we’re drowning on an island, so having a reminder that faking it until we make it – is pretty well universal – is comforting. My goal with this series is to highlight women I’ve read about who are successful but who also speak candidly about the struggle to manage work and home – and who never pretend like it’s sunshine and roses all the time. After my last post, another blogger commented that she didn’t care for the title of “working mom hero awards” because she felt it isolates stay-at-home moms. Of course, this isn’t my intention. You all know I straddle between being home with my kids and working quite a bit from home – so I’m never sure which category I fall into because there isn’t a neat and tidy definition for me. Right now I’m blogging in my hours old, dried sweaty gym clothes, and it doesn’t matter because I don’t have anywhere to be. But yet I still work plenty – both paid and unpaid. So I guess I hope that the women I select as esteemed winners of the award are relatable to all of us – no matter how much you do or do not get paid. Frankly I’m sort of beyond that easy definition because I think there are a ton of women like me – who aren’t neatly categorized as working moms, stay-at-home moms, soccer moms, Wal-Mart moms (never call me that one – or really any of them) – we bleed over into many categories – and yet we live in a world where categories and labels make sense to others and help provide a quick snapshot of who is standing next to them. This is partly why I think we’re all Digital Moms – because thanks to technology – we’re all working and connecting and raising our kids – with our phones and laptops as a critical part of our lives. Anyhow, I’ve now gotten way off the topic of today’s award winner – but wanted to address some of the feedback I received the last time. In the end, my purpose in creating this award series is because I think we still appreciate hearing how other successful women are coping, no matter how your role is defined by yourself or others.
Drumroll…..and frankly for those of you on my WM FB page – none of you will be surprised by today’s winner or the future winners I’m planning to write about because I’ve posted articles about them all on the FB page…today’s winner is classy, successful, has teenage sons, is out-spoken and happens to be the new First Lady of France: Valerie Trierweiler. If you don’t know much about her, this article from Jezebel tipped me off quickly to why I adore her. First of all, I like her because she’s unconventional and this particularly appeals to me because she now is in such an esteemed role. Despite all the ridiculous talk about how French parent so much better than us Americans through the winter, what I think we can agree on with regards to the French is they tolerate more from their politicians’ personal lives than we do here in the United States. Should a sitting president be carrying on with an intern in the Oval Office? No, of course not. But could we tolerate a first family here in the United States where the first couple isn’t even married, like the new French president and his partner? No, I definitely don’t think so. Yet why not? Haven’t we learned yet that much of the time, it’s all a shaky house of cards, so at least in these circumstances, they aren’t forcing fake labels? Truth be told – I would be devastated if Obama was found cheating on Michelle, so I suppose I am very American in how I view things – but the very fact that France’s new first lady is just the president’s girlfriend – and she is totally comfortable with that and has no intention of trying to change it – makes me like her even more. I like women who defy rules, obviously.
I get that from my own mother.
So, she defies rules. What else makes her a WM Working Mom Hero?
Umm…she was a working mom while her three sons were young but she took Wednesdays off to make crepes with them and spend the day with them. So right there, here is a woman who has risen to the top of her field, which is journalism, has coped with two divorces, raised her kids as a single mom while rising in a very competitive field, yet we learned she still took off one day a week. Again – she is defying the odds. Here’s the excerpts from the original interview in the New York Times:
Ms. Trierweiler, who has three teenage sons and tries to keep them out of the public eye, described herself in the interview as an ordinary woman who struggled to make her professional and private lives compatible.
“I’ve shared the fate of many working mothers, I felt guilty like them,” Ms. Trierweiler said. “I took Wednesdays off to see my children and make them crepes.” She said she turned down a posting as a foreign correspondent for Paris Match because “I wanted to stay with them.”
In America, do many of us believe you can take one day off a week and still rise to the top of your profession? Ms. Trierweiler is showing us that you can do this…..and still become successful. And really….to make crepes. J’adore the French. The other thing I found noteworthy is that she revealed this unapologetically – with no disclaimers – nothing like she appreciated the other people around her that gave her this flexibility or any of that bullshit. She took a day off a week to be with her sons. Period. Sometimes, I think that if working moms owned it – not acted like it was something to be ashamed of or a gift – but make the case – I want X, I deliver X, Y, Z – let’s make this happen – then maybe we’d see more flexibility. The real kind of flexibility – not the fake kind for generic surveys about family friendly companies where employers can claim they offer shorter days or flexible arrangements but no one takes them because it’s a kiss of death for your career. Working moms out there – I hope she will inspire the confidence in you to own it, to set the schedule that you need because you deserve it, not because you are mommy tracking yourself.
Why else to adore France’s first lady? Because she boldly stands up for women’s rights. Here’s the 9th reason from the Jezebel list:
9. She’s already influencing the president for the better: On Friday, she confirmed to Le Figaro that she had asked Julien Dray, a controversial Socialist leader, to leave the victory celebration for Mr. Hollande and his team last Sunday. Between the two rounds of the presidential vote, Mr. Dray drew criticism for inviting Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the disgraced former Socialist front-runner, to his birthday party at an unsavory bar.
That’s right – do not tolerate scum like DSK or those associated with him – and she didn’t. In a very public way that clearly sent a message about what she, and by association her husband, will tolerate.
And finally, she’s unabashedly outspoken – which again speaks to her underlying confidence – a trait moi adores in others – especially women. In her most recent interview now that she is a few weeks into being the First Lady, she speaks openly for her dislike of this term, finding it outdated and in response to public criticism that she is too outspoken and unconventional, she said “Ooh-la-la, a woman with a little bit of character — she’s scary!’ It’s always the same old criticisms.”
J’adore Valerie. She had me at crepes but then she really had moi at the “Ooh-la-la” sarcasm.
Go forth, WM fans, with your “Ooh-la-la” confidence and while you’re at it, enjoy some crepes.
“Like” the WM FB page to keep up with the “Ooh-la-la” fun and of course, if you’ve read about someone who deserves to be nominated, let moi know. Until then, will write more on this series probably next week. Be patient with moi, with summer here, it’s more difficult to carve out time to blog and moi doesn’t enjoy blogging at night. Moi enjoys wine and sleeping at night.