“I wish they would teach kids in college stuff like how to balance work with life.”
The words were spoken by a smart, articulate, successful Jewish woman at our Federation’s recent 3rd Annual “Women Leaning In” event. After the panel discussion, based on Sheryl Sandberg’s best-seller Lean In, all about women maintaining a work-life balance, we had small table discussions. We lamented that young women were being told to get out there and achieve their dreams, but that honest conversation about what that might look like once they want kids is glaringly absent.
My mind wandered to my daughter in Israel. She’s in seminary – a one-year gap program from September to June. It’s full day, Sunday through Thursday (that’s Israel’s work week) plus organized tours, Shabbat experiences, and seminars. It’s intensive Judaics all day. And they are getting “stuff like how to balance work with life.”
They have seminars from published authors, international lecturers, and ordained rabbis on marriage – from how to maintain your own identity within marriage to how to detect a normative marriage from a non-normative marriage. They are learning how to identify abuse within marriage and what to do when that happens. They’re learning about the role of a profession. What it says about you and what it doesn’t. Where it defines you and where you define it. What the value of family is. How to balance your own quest for spirituality with taking care of a family. How the skill set of being a student is different from the skill set of being a mom, and how there may well be a adjustment period and learning curve. They’re learning the role of a rabbi or mentor – and where the limits of that role are.
In Sheryl’s book (we’re on a first-name basis by now) she talks a bit about professional mentorship. And in one of my classes when I was talking about cultivating personal mentors to see how people we respect navigate life, a woman commented that this is so common in the professional sphere, and so absent in the personal sphere – where it counts the most. I agreed! A few days later I found that one of the women at the class had posted this on Facebook:
|It’s real now because it’s on Facebook.|
So I thought again of my daughter. About how she’s being taught these things. About how cool that is. About how happy I am for her. About how I love that she snaps pictures of her notes and sends them to me so we can discuss. And all is right with the universe.