Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes returned to her alma mater on June 8 to give the main address at Dartmouth College's commencement ceremony — bestowing graduating students with what she has learned in the 23 years since she was in their position.
As part of her candid and frank speech, the 44-year-old addressed how she balances her job as wildly-successful TV producer with her job as a single mother of three — telling the crowd that she would give them and only them the honest answer.
"Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means that I am failing in another area of my life … That is the tradeoff. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who's also a powerful working mother. You never feel 100 percent OK. You never get your sea legs. You're always a little nauseous. Something is always lost. Something is always missing."
She gave examples — saying that accepting a prestigious award meant missing her child's first swim lesson, and that seeing her daughter's school musical meant missing the filming of Sandra Oh's (Cristina Yang) last scene on Grey's.
But the tradeoff is worth it, she explained, because of the example she sets for her kids.
"I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them. I like how proud they are when they come to my offices and know that they come to Shondaland. There is a land, and it is named after their mother. In their world, mothers run companies. In their world, mothers own Thursday nights. In their world, mothers work — and I am a better mother for it."
As she elaborated, it all relates to her happiness at work, not just at home: "The woman I am — because I get to run Shondaland, because I get to write all day, because I get to spend my days making things up — that woman is a better person and a better mother because that woman is happy, that woman is fulfilled, that woman is whole."
For our money, this is yet another example of Shonda's infinite wisdom. And, uh, is anyone else reminded of The Great Cristina-Meredith Debate of Season 10?
What do you think of Shonda's working mother philosophy? Sound off in the comments below.