is trying to have it all?
I heard a story on the radio yesterday (link to text and audio here) about a woman, Ann-Marie Slaughter, who had and still has both a very successful career (first as the director of policy planning for the State Department and now as a professor at Princeton) and a family. Nice. However, she is one of the first women to "tell it like it is" and say what most other women don't want to say, lest we be labelled anti-feminist: women still can't have it all. We never could. Balancing everything is tough, and unfortunately in the case of high-powered careers, nearly impossible, even with a helpful spouse.
She claims that by trying to do everything both at home and at work, we end up feeling like we are doing poorly at both places. To do things like have natural children (biology is something we simply can't avoid), we have to make some career compromises. That's just the way it is.
This message is in contrast to those espoused by other women like Ms. Sheryl Sandberg, a facebook executive who maintains (in true liberal feminist fashion) that more women need to push their way to the top so that changes will be made. You can read more about that in this morning's NY Times article here. Some women, however, see Sandberg's view as a criticism or an admonishment for not having chosen to push for the career first and foremost, as she did.
The article by Ms. Slaughter that triggered the whole thing, published in the Atlantic, can be found here.
I won't argue for either case. There's plenty of fuel to fire the "mommy wars" elsewhere on the internet. If I've learned anything in 27 years, it's that you've got to do what works for you and your family. If it doesn't work, it may be a hard choice, but just don't do it! I honestly believe that one cannot do everything. I have a very supportive, very enlightened spouse who is great with Stenni, helps with cooking and household chores despite having a stay-at-home wife to handle such things, and would support my having a career if I so chose. But when I did have a career? Let's just say that my educated enlightened husband is not really great at laundry, and that we both would have missed a lot of things we'd have liked to be there for when Stenni was a baby, and leave it at that.
I don't care what people do. I'd rather not see people in this century demonized for making a choice that should just be made among the family. Yes, women have the right to work but it shouldn't feel pushed on us either (another problem that I don't believe is addressed properly in any of these articles: when a career is expected and the juggling act is just another thing that you're supposed to do with your life). Some women have to work. That's just life.
I don't know, it's just food for thought. It sparked some interesting conversation with the hubs in the car on the way home from the pediatric orthopedic surgeon yesterday. Yeah, Stenni's in a cast up to her knee. She fractured her leg in a fall while she was playing with cousins the other day. She can't get the cast wet or even go on the beach because of the sand, so goodbye to next week's beach vacation. Sigh.