Join the Discussion: Can Women Have it ALL?

And what is “ALL” anyway? Is it…

  • Meaningful quality time with our children?
  • Good friends?
  •  A Fulfilling and meaningful work life?
  • Time for a meaningful relationship and maybe even sex now and then?
  • Opportunities for giving back to the community?
  • And still a little bit of time for ourselves?

It doesn’t just mean (or necessarily mean) having career and family. Maybe it means finding happiness, fulfillment, and (learning from other western countries) making time to savor the small things in life – a good meal, being with friends, taking time with your partner, taking time for yourself. Maybe “having it all” is about finding peace in balance, not about rising or racing to the top as an individual – in work or motherhood or life, but having “good things” to celebrate at the end of the day, followed by peace of mind and a good night’s sleep.

Can Women Have it ALL? This is such a BIG topic, and as I’ve researched it over the past several months, I’ve realized that instead of doing one big article about it, I’ll need to break it down over the next few weeks. There are many aspects to this conversation that merit discussion, reflection, attention, and that will hopefully serve to empower you, encourage you, and inspire you. We will address the question of CHOICES that women (and families) have or do not have when it comes to working or not working, the day-to-day struggle (and tips) for staying and feeling BALANCED in life, the goal of staying true to one’s self as a woman and mother amidst the many  pressures that we feel from outside forces to meet some “ideal” standard. I will present real-life examples and stories of women, my friends, who are living out these choices as “stay-at-hone” and “working” moms, moms who have opened up to me about their true feelings on this subject, moms who say they have benefited just from stopping to think about these questions as the process has clarified priorities and principles for them. My goal in focusing on this topic is not only that it will help you personally to examine what is truly best for you and your family, what “happiness” and “all” means for you, but that it will also serve to spark more compassion for all mothers in our society. That instead of judging one another, we will decide to support each other, with the understanding that we are all making personal and challenging choices, and that the for some the “choices” are more difficult than others, but that all of us have the well-being of our children and families at heart. I will also share links to several enlightening articles, interviews, and sites for your further engagement on these issues. And as always, I hope you’ll give me your feedback on Facebook or by commenting on my posts, and share the conversation with other moms out there!

Can Women Have it ALL? Many of us moms live and breathe this “topic”, this existential question every day (as it is always somewhere in the back of our minds challenging us), but a few months ago it came to the forefront of the conversation in media outlets when a controversial article in The Atlantic Monthly declared that in fact, women CAN’T have it all in today’s society. In the coming weeks, we’ll examine some of Slaughter’s main points. This article led me to the book Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner, which further examines many of these issues, so I’ll also share my thoughts on this book. Stay tuned! If you want to read up, here you go:

“Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” (Anne-Marie Slaughter)

“Perfect Madness” overview

For now, let’s simply get the conversation started with some of the questions that I’ve posed to myself and other moms for discussion and reflection. Come delve further into this subject with us next week as we talk in person at  Panera on this topic…Meetup Discussion: Can Women Have it ALL? (Next Tuesday evening, 7:30 or Friday morning, 9:30).

1. What do you think – can women have it all in today’s society or are there always trade-offs?
2. If you feel there are trade-offs, What do you feel you’ve had to compromise regarding career, family, self? Do you resent these compromises or accept them? Are there changes you’d like to make for your own happiness or for your family?
3. Do you feel that that you have truly had the power of CHOICES along the way, or do you feel like you have been pushed into the life you have by necessity and practicality?
4. If you have had to make difficult choices (going back to work after baby or not, accepting a promotion, taking a new job, traveling, etc.), how clear was the “right answer” to you? Do you regret any of these choices?
5. How have external pressures affected your choices and the stress/ expectations that you feel for yourself both as a woman and a mom? (husbands, co-workers, society, media, other moms, parents, etc.)
6. What rituals/ tips help you to connect with your children when you are sharing quality together time? If you are a working mom, do you feel more pressure to make this time meaningful?
7. If you work outside the home, what tips/ rituals help you feel connected/ stay connected to your children when you are separated by work?
8. What benefits do you see your children getting because of your career choices? Do you talk with them much about your job?
9. Do you feel that there is an unequal burden placed on you as the woman/ mom in the family as far as child-rearing and household duties (by yourself, your family, society?) In what ways does this manifest?
10. What advice would you give your daughters on this subject as they grow? What do you want for them?

my Ellie-girl

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Melanie says:

    #10 – What I will one day tell my sweet little Anna-Boo: None of us can do “it all,” whether you are talking about extracurricular activities in high school or the adult types of issues you discussed in this post. Spend your time around people who help you figure out what you care most about it and who will make choices that support you. Friends, family, spouses, etc. who do this are worth their weight in gold! I do have these folks in my life, and I generally spend my time the way I really want to. There are a lot of things I choose not to do – invitations to my daughter’s birthday party, Christmas cards, etc, and some of these choices might seem horrible to some other people, but they are true to what my family has decided MATTERS – and what doesn’t – for us.