I took my son to a Lady Gaga concert.
I could tell you that. And I could tell you I take at least one kid on every business trip I have, and they are sick of it, so I tried to make Seattle fun by adding Lady Gaga.
My son loved the spectacle. Even from nose-bleed seats. He loved dancing in the aisles. And even though he told me he didn’t want them, he finally admitted that he loved that I brought ear plugs, too.
Should I tell you I went to Seattle and saw Lady Gaga with my son? Or do I tell you I went to Seattle because I’m using Infusionsoft on Quistic and it’s a mess and I needed a hands-on lesson from my co-worker? I try to stick to stories like the Infusionsoft one, because then you think of me not as a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling my kids, but rather as a content marketing expert and a serial entrepreneur. And you will listen when I say that Infusionsoft is the wave of the future of content marketing and you need to stick with me to find out stuff like this.
Do you ever read magazines like In Style? It’s my go-to in-plane reading. It’s pages and pages of famous people answering one-line questions in ways that encapsulate who they want to be. A question for Lady Gaga is what did you do last weekend? And she’ll say she did an art class with kids with cleft lips because she wants people to associate her with outcasts and underdogs. For Jessica Alba the answer to every question is her business The Honest Company.
It turns out that this sort of shallow Q&A also happens in Fast Company: What are you loving this week? And Ivanka Trump answered that she loves the app ETA because “It’s a life saver when I have to rush from a meeting to pick up my children.”
Ivanka wants us to know she’s a working mom. She wants credit for balancing work and family, because when it comes to women competing for the admiration of other women, this is what matters most to most women.
Great. Because I don’t have a chance in hell of convincing you that I’m Sheryl Sandberg, so I like that maybe I am looking like Ivanka, doing the great balance thing. Maybe I am doing okay. Ivanka is so beautiful. And I like how smart and grounded her husband is.
But I don’t believe Ivanka uses ETA to pick up her kids after work. She has a car service, and nannies, and there is no way she does the picking up herself if she knows she’s going to be late. And she implies her kids are at daycare, but they are likely with a nanny who can bring the kids to Ivanka if Ivanka’s running late.
So it’s pointless for me to want to be like Ivanka. She starts to sound dishonest because she doesn’t talk about what she gives up.
It’s times like this when I wonder why there is so little discussion about Melinda Gates. I have been stalking her for more than a decade. I remember where I was standing when I read in the National Enquirer that Bill Gates was dating a woman who works at Microsoft and has an MBA. I remember when I read she didn’t want to talk to him at Microsoft because it was too awkward and it would ruin her career. I remember when I heard she was quitting.
Melinda quit a very promising career to raise her kids. She waited and waited until they grew up enough, and then she went back into the workforce, distributing money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Today, if you are trying to get funding from the female condom initiative, you have to get past Melinda on the technology front before you can be considered a candidate for funding.
But she does not work full-time. Not even close. In a rare interview – with Vogue – she says: “I want to be such a huge part of the foundation. But my kids are not going to be this age forever.”
She speaks the language of quitting, of giving something up. It’s the language of having to make hard choices instead of having it all.
She is a model for how to give up her work and have kids. She’s a model for making tough, adult choices.
The role model for today’s woman should be someone who talks about what she gave up. I like that Arianna Huffington talks about how she gave up her sanity to run AOL and raise two daughters. I appreciate the discussion of the gut-wrenching loneliness her daughters felt growing up. But Huffington’s candor only serves to make me certain I want to be associated with women who gave up the work part of their life, not the kids part.
Its hard for me to write “gave up the work part of life.” It kills me. Like maybe I’m giving up too much.
I need a role model who can show me how to be proud and unapologetic for my choices. Melinda doesn’t justify her education to us. She doesn’t justify that she’s not using her MBA while she raises kids. She trusts herself that she’ll figure something out when the kids are grown up.
The role model for me is probably someone who is smart, driven, and clearly spending lots of time doing the day-to-day monotony of being a parent. My role model doesn’t need to make everyone understand why she’s still great, even though she’s home with kids. My role model will be at peace with herself, because that’s what I want for me.