My Story: A Single Mother Leaning In

Sheryl Sandberg was brave enough to do something which most people never can: she admitted to the world that she had made a mistake.

When Sandberg wrote Lean In, she didn’t adequately acknowledge the challenges of single mothers face. Now that she is experiencing it first hand, she understands what a huge mistake that is.Instead of applauding her, it seems like too many women have decided to bash her instead.

It’s been said that white feminism has been an arena dominated by the privileged and tone deaf.

But, to be fair- people are only generally good at understanding the world that they know and live in. They fight for the problems that they can see. And sometimes, people need to go through a struggle in order to really get it. Not only did she get it, but she is doing something about it- pushing corporate America to change to better accommodate single mothers.

Single mothers often don’t have a choice of staying home with their kids, they have to work. But, they also don’t always have the choice of “leaning in”. They have so many responsibilities at home that they need flexibility, can’t always take on extra work or put in enough hours.

Despite having this problem myself- Sandberg’s book inspired me as a single mother and I decided LAWFI (Lean All the Way the Fuck In). Here is the process I went through- I took a bird’s eye view of my life and thought: “I am the only person that my kids have to depend on and I am going to work hard no matter what. I can either fight my way to the top or I can work hard and stretch myself thin without getting anywhere.”

I chose to fight. I watched videos on the Lean In website, I negotiated better, I took on challenges that were more than I thought I could handle. And then each time I thought that I had taken on too much, instead of backing down, I reached out for help.

I don’t have a husband, but I have friends and family who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. They have taken my kids when I worked late, they have fed us, loved us, housed us and given me the strength to keep going.

Everything that Sandberg said is true- you need a good partner and support system to Lean In. But that doesn’t have to be a husband. There are lots of people that you can Lean On so that you can Lean In.

Single mothers need to Lean In, and I applaud Sheryl Sandberg for being brave enough to share her struggle and admit that she made a mistake. She didn’t have to let us in to her personal struggle- but I believe that she is broadening her work, and she can be even more effective at bringing change to the women who need this the most. She’s a true leader and I can’t wait to see where she takes this, because I think that it will be epic.

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