Away for a wedding, I’m writing this piece in a really busy Cafe in Boulder, Colorado.
It’s 9 AM on Friday morning and the cafe (Snooze, on Pearl Street) is doing anything but snoozing. There’s not a seat open at the bar. The wait is about 25 minutes long. The espresso machine has made about five lattes and three caps since my last full stop. The mimosas are topped off with strawberries and the air smells like pancakes and syrup. The team of people behind the bar works like a well-oiled machine, tending to everything and everyone. This baby is not just walking, she’s dancing.
I’m done tackling my morning emails and have checked on Rose and Basil about four times already.
I’ve been away for three days, and it is about now that I get hit with the ‘first-time mom’ anxiety. My baby is 16 months old and well watched by the family of fairies I put together since her arrival, however, I still have a hard time being away from her.
Like most moms, I look around at all the other babies and smile when recognizing similarities, compare behaviors and learn from them. There is no doubt though that my baby is the best, regardless. A special and unique creation, the very thing that I’ve poured my heart and half my DNA in.
It hasn’t quite managed yet to learn to walk on her own: I stand there holding one or two fingers as the chubby legs move, still unsure. I document, like any loving mother, each move, each new word. We celebrate each moment and soothe every bump.
I sleep less since her arrival. I’m more anxious and somehow less independent, or at least less of what I thought independence to be like before she arrived. In fact, a lot of things have changed for me since her arrival. The world and all its possibilities expanded. Time earned another dimension and success another scale. Days sometimes seem weeks long and how well I did today is often based on how well she did today.
For someone that has been on their own for more than a decade, this new dependency aspect of living is new and to be quite frank, a little scary. As days go by and my baby grows and wonders at the world, I realize that I no longer have the option of taking off. I’m grounded now in a way that I’ve never been before. I’m attached. And the most surprising aspect of it all is that I like it. My creation, even though so young, has already started to change lives and that is to date my biggest and proudest accomplishment.
And as a ‘business mother’, there is nothing quite as fulfilling than seeing something you've made grow and positively affect this world. It humbles you and overwhelms you, but most of all, it gives your purpose and an understanding that there are no limits towards what you can achieve through them as your extension.
You rejoice, you worry about them, and you devote all that you are into making them the best that they can be.
Some days, you succeed: they shine and you, from the shadows, feel your eyes flood with tears and heart with joy.
Some days, you fail: they are lonely or sad, scolded by the world, and you are left to hurt for them, to struggle and to find in you - only you - the way to make them get up and chase another day.
There are books and other parents (including your own) full of advice and knowledge. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll do your best to try to absorb all they have to offer before she comes.
But it will feel like you know nothing and the first days when you are alone with her, she’ll be too helpless and too tiny and won’t stop crying no matter what you do. You’ll wonder what were you thinking when you decided to have her in the first place.
No book will save you but your own will to make her grow into something breathtaking. Your own desire to make her succeed.
You will doubt yourself often. You will want to run. You will want to give up.
You will have to be resourceful and extremely creative. It won’t be easy, but it will always be extraordinary.
With her there, you fight for two. You hurt for two. You cry and spend for two. (or ten if you’re anything like me!). Life as you know it changes and transforms and slowly you realize that so do you.
And in all that, life becomes more colorful, touched by all that was submerged in ignorance prior to her arrival.
You now see things - small microscopic things - you ignored in everyone else before. The first smile she steals, the first friend she makes, the first step she takes towards that dance you’re carefully preparing for.
Maybe she’ll take on to become a star child early on and surpass even your greatest expectations. Maybe she’ll drag you down to the park and introduce you to the love of your life or your best friend. Maybe she’ll force you to learn things about yourself you never thought were there.
You find joy and satisfaction in the joy she brings into the world. That realization is probably your most powerful superhero (mom) power because once that settles in, you become unstoppable.
You leave behind your innocence and become an adult, a parent.
I cannot tell you how to start your own business at 21 and be successful in any better way than to compare it to becoming a parent at 21.
Leaving behind days of chill, putting something else but yourself first and, at least until the baby is ready to go dancing, being okay with doing all of that all too soon. Is it worth it?
While sipping on a chai latte in Boulder, processing cake orders and considering what should be our next winter spiced frosting, I can assure you that yes, it is.
Because when the baby starts dancing, she is limitless.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.