As a white woman, I agonize constantly about cultural appropriation. I’ve traveled all over the emerging world, learned how to cook local meals in friends’ kitchens, and collected local art and jewelry and textiles as I go. I’ve frequently been gifted these things. Is it wrong to enjoy them, remembering how these experiences immeasurably expanded my life?
Let’s go back even further. I grew up in a predominantly black city in the South. Everything I think of as the culture I was raised in is appropriated from black culture. The food, the music, the slang, the style, the art….All of it.
Evie and I had a rough morning.
It was a Wednesday and I had to be in Palm Springs for a work meeting ASAP, but I’d delayed my flight (and kept people waiting) in order to take the kids to school. I wasn’t going to see them for a few days and I desperately wanted that extra bit of momming.
Evie is always hard to motivate in the mornings but this morning in particular she took 20 minutes longer than Eli to get ready for school. Twenty minutes. I don’t even think I could move that slow if I tried. It was like this.
I was a literature major in college, and the one book I always regretted not tackling was Ulysses. My advisor was a James Joyce scholar and I loved The Dubliners and Portrait of an Artist, and the dense quality of Joyce’s writing, that you had to read it along with an annotated guide to get half of what he was even trying to do. (These are only things 20-year-old literature majors “love.”)
So since I tackled Proust and Moby Dick last year, I decided I would do Ulysses next.
It’s been FAR HARDER, far less enjoyable and taken me far longer.
I keep thinking about this thread on Chairman Mom about hiring a housecleaner that has gotten a surprising flood of answers. So many of us are struggling with whether or not to be apologetic about this.
And I get it. If Gawker was around they’d screenshot it and say we were all so privileged to be able to hire people to clean after us. We are, yes. Let’s all just acknowledge that. But I think we’ve also been conditioned to feel shame about it in the way working women feel shame about hiring a nanny: “Strangers raising your kids!”
I’ve been in a pretty aggressive and unsentimental purging wave right now (much like this Chairman Mom member…). The other day I tossed something, and then I had a rare emotional reaction and pulled it back out of the discard pile.
Take my red Dr. Scholl’s sandals. I have a much cuter version in my red Birkenstocks. And I realized I never wear them.
But my mom. My long-suffering, hard-working mother of five kids and school teacher would put her everything into so many people everyday, to the point where she’d have to come home most days and lay down with migraines. I’d sneak into her darkened bedroom, unable to go any length of time without her, and you could see her sheer physical inability to rise up and take care of me collide with her maternal passion and drive. I’d just loop my little fingers into where her hand lay.
So, I had a horrible day yesterday. Probably one of my worst days of 2020. (In fact I have the data on that because I’ve been tracking my mood everyday via the new Chairman Mom app…it officially was.)
And yet, there was one massive, massive ray of hope. One thing that kept me going: The insane reaction we got to our announcement that we want to buy every working woman and her friends dinner this year. More than a dozen women wrote to us asking to be hosts, and some of the reasons why were so beautiful and so touching.
I hinted earlier this year that there was some exciting new stuff coming when it comes to Chairman Mom events. It’s a pretty dramatic change.
As I wrote before, our past events were fantastic—even transformational—for the people who could attend. People found co-founders, best friends, inspiration, life and career restarts…we know of dozens of cases where women’s lives were changed pretty substantially just by coming into contact with other women in the right setting.
But these events were out of reach for most of our members, either because of distance, cost, timing, or a combination of those things.
Newsletter editor Lily here.
As I noted a few weeks ago, I’ve spent 2020 reading a lot. A LOT. And I’ve been loving every second of it.
In particular, I’ve remembered the joy I feel reading women-centric fiction, especially romance novels. And combining that with my goal over the past year to have more personal life attachments and not so many elements of my life revolving solely around my career, I decided to add something new to the rotation: I started an IRL contemporary romance book club.
As I discussed on this thread, I go to very few conferences a year, and increasingly doubt even the number of conferences that I do attend. Part of it is likely that I spent much of my life at—and running—conferences as a journalist.
These days, something has to really intrigue me for me to attend. There has to be a mix of friends there I rarely get to see. It has to be somewhere I love to go or is easy/cheap to get to, or ideally both. And the content has to be something I don’t see or haven’t seen before.
This is a little late but a huge happy birthday to San Francisco female-power space The Assembly, which turned two in January! I absolutely adore The Assembly and its founder Molly Goodson.
She recently wrote a newsletter about the journey and has posted some amazing before and afters on Instagram.
She wrote about the work it takes to build a true community, and it really resonated with me. Such a large part of my work day is spent in the Chairman Mom community. I reply to every email sent in response to these newsletters, and I sit down with hundreds of Chairman Mom members every year.