Sheryl Sandberg, Space Families

Sheryl Sandberg, Space Families

This morning I was helping my 2 year old get her boots on. She was holding an octopus puppet, gently hitting it, saying "no hitting." Like all young children, she was thinking through rules and social norms through play. What made this a remarkable conversation was what she said next: "no hitting girls." My husband and I looked at each other, stunned for a moment, asking one another with our eyes, "did you hear what I heard?" Where did she get this?

Tons of places, no doubt.

After managing my own reaction for a few seconds, I finally said, "yes, no hitting girls, no hitting boys." And Steve piped in, "or animals, or adults for that matter."

Amidst this chaos of trying to get out of the house, I found myself telling my husband about Diane Rehm's interview with Sheryl Sandberg-- in particular, this story:

(Paraphrased based on my memory of the interview) A 5 year old girl came home and told her mother that she had a problem. She wants to be an astronaut and the boy she likes also wants to be an astronaut. Her mom asks, "what is the problem?" "Well," she answers, "we can't both be in space. Someone will have to take care of the kids."

My husband was visibly moved by this story, and in about 5 seconds we both relived the last 2+ years of conversations about childcare, work, family leave, our relationship, studio time, personal fulfillment, sleep, etc.

He then said that he hoped the little girl's mom had suggested she just have a space family.

This is one of the many things I love about my husband-- he can react to a high-stakes situation with humor that does not downplay the importance of the situation. He had a playful solution that met the 5 year old girl on her terms, loosened the anxiety, while increasing what she could imagine as possible for herself.

I started sharing other parts of the interview I found memorable, all while we were trying to get ourselves ready for work and school. My daughter was running around chattering about all kinds of things, wanting our attention while I'm telling my husband about the other story Sheryl Sandberg told, about girls and women being unfairly portrayed as bossy rather than as leaders, and a young girl advising her mom to go ahead and be liked rather than take a promotion. My daughter finally ran into the room, waving her arms, furiously signing "all done" and shouted, "all done talking! school! school!"

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