Since its release just over two weeks ago, much has been said and written about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's new book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will To Lead. I am not one of Sheryl's haters, in fact, having had the opportunity to witness her speak on a number of occasions while we both worked at Google, I can testify that she is a truly inspirational woman. However, I feel that her story only represents one type of woman, the successful woman in business who also has children.
Four and a half months in and I am finding having a decent telephone conversation hard enough, never mind a full night's sleep. So why would a mere mortal mother bother to compare herself with a mumpreneur?
Clearly, biologically women's bodies have an obvious function: baby-making. Throughout history this baby-making facility of the female anatomy has become entwined with the nurturing of the whole family, and feminists (men and women) fought for a woman's right to have a career, if they so chose to have one.
Strangely enough I felt on a real high from the moment I landed on the tarmac. I thoroughly enjoyed being in Afghanistan. I loved the heady difference, the gripping change of scenery, the break from five years of deep emotional wrangling within the wider family dynamic, the food, the work, the appreciation of your efforts from Afghan colleagues.
Even though I'm a hands-on parenting advocate, I accept that motherhood is hard. The hours are long, it's badly paid and it puts demands on you physically and emotionally that would have any other 'employer' up before the International Court of Human Rights. Time-out to 'be yourself' at work breaks up the intensity of full-time parenting.