Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg: Will her 'Lean In' reignite Mommy wars?
Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg: We love to make heroes out of women who succeed in traditionally male-dominated roles and then be catty about their success as we claw out the eyes that were on the prize. Chill on the Mommy wars.
Norfolk, Va. — Those who have read advance copies of Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” fuss over the author’s shifting-sand focus drifting from platitude to attitude and back again as a hodgepodge of feminist manifesto and how-to career guide. Before we, as moms, bury one of us for succeeding let’s see if there’s something relatable about this woman.
It seems to me that we love to make heroes out of women who succeed in traditionally male-dominated roles and then we absolutely glory in being catty about their success as we claw out the eyes that were on the prize.
True, Ms. Sandburg, 43, has gobs of money and degrees from the Ivy League. And while she and I may share a passion for posting inspirational phrases, mine are on fridge magnets, while hers are custom framed on designer walls. I am 47, work freelance in order to be home with my kids and my boots are more UGH!, than Ugg. Meanwhile, my favorite New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd called Sandberg a "PowerPoint Pied Piper in Prada ankle boots." Owie.
So as a parenting blogger and a mom, I am about to become persona non-Prada with Ms. Dowd by taking a hike up a higher road to see how Sandburg looks from up there.
I found my lookout’s perch in the Washington Post’s “Lean In Cheat Sheet.” The Post tells us about Sandburg as a real person and mom: “She gained 70 pounds in her first pregnancy and had morning sickness the whole nine months. She got married at 24 and was divorced a year later. It took her a year to find a job in Silicon Valley. She’s been the subject of sexist comments, such as the client who wanted to set her up with his son. She’s cried at work (many times, apparently). And throughout her life and career, she confesses to having felt at times like an imposter. She admits, repeatedly, to worrying too much about being liked.”
Here’s a woman who has spent her life hacking down the barriers that may have barred some of us and the next generation of girls from wearing Prada or any other pair of shoes we might like to afford, putting herself farther out there for us. Here is the target we are shooting for, and we strapped a fellow mom to it and took our shots even as we read that her worst fear is being unliked?
For what it’s worth – and believe me it won’t buy you anything but peace of mind – I’d like to share with Sandburg, and any other woman who has fought her own fears, helped others to be inspired and been taken down by critics, the song “Did You” by my friends Deirdre Flint of Philly, that always helps me get back up. Deirdre’s a school teacher who started writing educational songs for her students and found that she had a gift for teaching us about how to be better to ourselves.
I’m going to post it on my Facebook wall right now with a shoutout to Sandburg.
Another work-a-day is done
A day a week a year is gone
And every breath you're further from
The one you meant to be
You can't recall the moment when
That Someday turned to Could Have Been
But a weak voice in you now and then
Asks what became of me.
A dream so loaded down with hope
It never would have flown
But would the fall hurt this much as this never having known
Did you stop believing just short of your miracle
Did you think a dream come true was the right of someone else
Did you wave the white flag when you knew you had a prayer left
And did you give more chances to a stranger than yourself
Like me? I did. Did you?
You're the first a friend calls when
They need a leap of faith again
You share the burden write the check
You weave the victory crown
Think how far you could have gone
If you'd had you to cheer you on
But the words you save when you're alone
Dig in and drag you down
From time to time you still replay
The moment drives you mad
You turned back moments from the top
And lost the chance you had (CHORUS)
No explanation for some things we do
But I sure would like to know
Why so many of us learn to fly from those
Who clipped their own wings long ago.
Like me. I did. Did you?