Saturday, April 6, 2013

Leaning In!

On August 1, 2005, I "leaned in." I didn't know I was "leaning in" at the time. I had never heard of Sheryl Sandberg or FaceBook. After eleven years as a teacher and grant coordinator, I became an Associate Principal for a small, suburban high school 30 miles from my home.

My son was entering Kindergarten as I began learning about evaluating teachers, imposing consequences for adolescents' poor choices, supervising endless school sporting events and activities - and finishing up my administrative leadership degree. My daughter was in third grade. My husband, who works in home health care, took on a bigger role.

Things like having a clean house and a home-cooked meal on the table every night got moved down on the priority list. Mommy guilt set in and I relinquished any hope for "mom of the year" accolades in my future.  My first mommy failure was school picture day. No one remembered. As a result, my kindergarten child's yearbook premiere came sporting a Power Rangers muscle t-shirt, a bad case of bed head, and a temporary tattoo on his bicep lef tover from a birthday party favor. I was mortified. Needless to say, when that picture packet arrived, it got tucked away in a drawer.

Two years later, I was promoted to Principal. That same, sweet boy said, "does this mean you're going to be a REAL principal Mom?" I believe this was his way of telling me he was proud of me. He couldn't care less about the school picture fiasco. His mom was a REAL principal.

There is no doubt that choosing to be a "career-loving parent" has its sacrifice. There are more stories like the school picture incident. Plenty more. But after reading Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In - Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (released in March 2013), I have a new sense of peace. As a woman, mother, and professional.

I feel a sense of vindication that my childhood play days of emulating "Charlies Angels" and playing "teacher" didn't make me "bossy."  Sandberg prefers the description "possessing executive leadership potential." Enough said, right?

There are plenty of great takeaways from Sandberg's book, but my biggest are relief and thanks for affirming what I've been hoping since the day my first born arrived in to this world. I'm doing just fine. Not perfect by any means, but just fine.

I'm getting ready to "lean in" again. I've accepted a district-level leadership position in a new school district beginning in July. I'm excited to begin a new chapter in my career and I'm really glad I read Sandberg's book. I hope my daughter reads it too. It has amazing messages for women and men of all ages. When I finish this blog post, I'm heading out to buy a frame for a special picture to be displayed in my new office.

Photo Credit: LifeTouch

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