Remodeling Motherhood in Dallas
I visited Dallas for the first time last weekend thanks to my good friend Debra Levy-Fritts – and it was a trip with several “firsts.”
1. I drank kale for the first time!
I partnered with MomCorps Dallas on a morning event for their job candidates at The Gem, a juice bar in Dallas. I had the “Green Glow” – kale, cucumber, lemon, apple and ginger. It tasted like green lemonade and I liked it!
And I loved everyone I met. Cindy Yared and her MomCorps Dallas team are doing so much more than placing re-entering women in flexible jobs. As MomCorps is out talking to employers and to candidates about they are remodeling how people think about work. As their candidates get placed, all of them are part of that remodeling effort too. Plus MomCorps Dallas has seen an increase in candidates that are male, younger women without kids, and women who are in jobs with crazy work hours and looking for a better work-life fit. MomCorps Dallas just hired a male recruiter. Work-life fit is not just a women’s issue; it is not just an issue for mothers who’ve been out of the workforce for awhile. Work-life fit is everyone’s issue.
2. I went to a Jewish Temple service for the first time, and I also went to a Torah Study Group for the first time where I read Genesis for the first time.
Temple Shalom in Dallas had me speak at their big adult learning event, Synaplex, on Saturday. I spoke about my four remodeling tools for change and the idea that the key to change is acting your way into a new way of thinking, Along the way I learned that this concept is central to Judaism as a whole and Reform Judaism in particular. My friend Debra told me, “Faith doesn’t come to you. You have to act in a certain way. Being Jewish means you struggle with faith and with God. Judaism is a religion of doing, not faith alone.”
I used Social Security as an example of the ways outdated mental models about mothers and fathers and work get embedded in public policy. I included the example that the designers of Social Security decided on lower benefits for widows since a single woman can live more cheaply than a single man because “she is used to doing her own housework whereas the single man has to go out to a restaurant.” At the end of the session, one woman – a widow – talked to me and told me her income had been cut in half when her husband died. “Social Security is all I have,” she said.
3. For the first time, I spoke to a room of women representing at least 3 generations (Gen X, Boomer, Silent) and maybe 4 generations if some of these new moms were 30 or younger (Millennial), and 5 generations if you count the 1 month old in the room (Homelander)!
The National Council of Jewish Women Dallas invited me to speak to their members and prospective members at Temple Emanu-El.
I spoke about how outdated mental models about mothers being responsible for family and fathers being responsible for employment impact our own daily lives and also lead to Family Responsibilities Discrimination in the workplace.
We all experienced the power of conversation. We have so few spaces today for people to have honest, safe, in-person dialogue about issues that matter to them, yet conversations like that are vital for giving ourselves a balcony view of our own experience. One woman said, “When was the last time I sat in a room with women and talked about these things? And another older member said, “When was the last time we as an organization did this where we could offer mentorship and connection across generations of women?”
We all experienced the power of asking “what if?” What if we truly believed for example, that both mothers and fathers can have a whole life, be employed and be good parents? What would be different? Choking up, one woman’s response was “I wouldn’t feel guilty.”
We all experienced the power of the connection between the personal and the political. The room gasped as I shared examples of Family Responsibilities Discrimination like the mother who was told she “was no longer dependable since she had delivered a child; that [her] place was at home with her child.” I explained that the same outdated mental models about mothers and fathers that crop up in our personal lives are also behind this type of discrimination. Mental models are the connection between the personal and political. And when we work on changing mental models, we create all kinds of possibility for both personal and political change.
Being in Dallas was a powerful experience for me too. So I hope my first trip to Dallas won’t be my last!
Here are links and resources that I shared during my visit to Dallas:
- Take the Implicit Association Test online. Try the Gender and Career one.
- Share your email on the right under Newsletter kris and access my free Remodeling Identity worksheet and podcast.
- Visit the WorkLife Law website. Share the link with friends and your workplace.
- Take an Family Responsibilities Discrimination quiz. Share it with others.
- Here’s NCJW.Handout for the National Council of Jewish Women.
- The link to the list of household tasks and family work we use to share responsibility can be found here.
- Relevant Blog Posts:
- Why I Want X Ray Glasses for Mothers Day
- How to Explain a Gap in a Resume – Caring for Family or … Coma?
- Social Security: Neutral in Name, Sexist By Design
- Gen X and Social Security: Will We Choose to be Practical or Cynical?
- Identity Whiplash: An Invisible Epidemic Among Mothers and Fathers