Why I wrote Tending
I wrote ‘Tending: Parenthood and the Future of Work,’ to heal myself. The book chronicles my own deeply personal quest to understand motherhood, and parenthood more broadly, in our modern times. I needed to give voice to my own experiences because I feared what would happen if I remained silent.
In recovering from PTSD nearly twenty years ago, I learned that when you feel unseen, when the world does not reflect your truth back to you, there are consequences. You start to believe that you don’t matter. I healed from PTSD, and I am healing in my journey as a working parent, by putting my story down in words, and doing the extensive research necessary to validate and put into context my feelings, thoughts, and experiences. I am hopeful that in reading ‘Tending,’ a book which gives voice not only to my experience but to the experiences of hundreds of working parents and researchers, you will feel seen. I have learned that when we do the deep work necessary to claim and share the truth of our experiences, we open the door for others to do the same. And when we are honest with ourselves, we access a deeper level of power and strength. We are at a moment in history when we must be honest with ourselves, and with each other. It’s the only way forward.
If we wish to heal, both ourselves and our culture, we must also acknowledge that how we parent matters. The adult human brain—in both women and men--is capable of the greatest plasticity in the year surrounding the birth of one’s child. And parenthood, possibly more than anything else, neurologically primes us to develop skills that are critical for success in the modern workplace.
And yet, it is harder to be a working parent in the US than in any other country in the developed world. The pandemic has made visible our lack of support for working parents. Prior to COVID, motherhood was already the greatest trigger for workplace discrimination. Now during the pandemic, mothers are leaving the workforce in droves. It’s time for this to change.
This moment is an opportunity for transformation. In the face of our culture’s inaccurate perception of parenthood’s impact on career performance, we can choose to see—and act—in alignment with the truth. We can recognize that showing up for parenthood gives us the opportunity to evolve into more potent versions of our former selves; and we can take advantage of this opportunity by doing the deep work necessary to change—not just ourselves, but the world around us, too.