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Atlantic article-- Women can't have it all


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Have you guys seen this article? It's written by a former director of policy planning for the State Department. She left her job because her teenage son was having problems and she wanted to spend more time with her family.

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-can-t-have-it-all/9020/?single_page=true

 

And here is an article about the article on the nytimes (the reader comments on this one are interesting):

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/22/us/elite-women-put-a-new-spin-on-work-life-debate.html

 

I find it disturbing that even the upper echelons of working mothers struggle so heavily with meeting their families' needs. I'm a SAHM so I'm divorced from the dilemma, but I have six daughters coming down the education/ employment pipeline. While I try not to impress upon them too heavily my opinions on the matter-- I would prefer they make their own choices about career and motherhood-- none of the current or perceivable future options fill me with much confidence for them (though I do my best to hide my pessimism).

 

What are your thoughts? :bigear:

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Yes, I have friends with highly successful careers who are torn sometimes between their families and their careers. I don't think for one moment that they 'have it all', they work incredibly hard and can be under terrible pressure. However, often their careers do give them choices. One friend has chosen to work as a freelance consultant; she is very well paid and is in constant demand. However, she does just as much as she decides is healthy for herself and her family. Yes, she has it good, and if I had daughters I wouldn't hesitate to hold her up as a role model. Of course, for many years before she got to this point she had to work very hard establishing her reputation in her field of expertise.

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I think I learned from my mother that you can't have it all because she was a staunch feminist. We needed our parents much, much more than they thought. That is probably why I am a SAHM and hser. I don't think I would ever work more than part-time while raising my kids unless it was a survival situation.

 

You can't have it all. One parent or both working together have to make sure the kids have their needs met. It does usually fall to the mom - whether it is sexist or biologically based and not fair that is just the way it is. Kids' needs have to be considered not just treated as cats who don't need a lot of interaction.

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I find it disturbing that even the upper echelons of working mothers struggle so heavily with meeting their families' needs... have six daughters coming down the education/ employment pipeline. ..... none of the current or perceivable future options fill me with much confidence for them (though I do my best to hide my pessimism).

 

What are your thoughts? :bigear:

 

This author is addressing her experience within a given demographic - highly educated, career minded women. Her recognition that she couldn't "have it all" meant that she stepped back from her job and "settled" into a full time professor at Princeton, writing and taking many speaking engagements a year. I would be thrilled to think my daughters could grow up and have that life. She's a tenured professor at an Ivy League school, for goodness sake. She's MADE it, by my calculations. Yeah, she sacrificed something more powerful and prestigious, but I have a hard time feeling negative about our daughter's futures because they may have to make that kind of sacrifice.

 

I think all working mother's struggle with the burdens of being needed to both children and their work. But for many women, it's worth it. I know many, many women who are doctors, lawyers, professors. I have seen their compromises. I know a few female doctors who only work a few days a week. One just works one day a week. I know women who have left the work force for a year then rejoined. I know attorneys who have chosen to be "part time" - which for attorneys is never really part time, lol, but it keeps you flexible, if off the partnership track. This doesn't seem disappointing to me. It seem fabulous. If you have a happy marriage and are freed from the pressure of being the sole bread winner, you have so many options IF you are well established in your career.

 

I have never regretted leaving the practice of law in order to homeschool and be a full time mother. But I have friends who continued practicing law who have very wonderful children and are quite happy. It's just different choices.

 

I'm not saying it's a bed of roses. Life can be hard. But I think todays women have wonderful potential and opportunities, and if not "having it all" means it's hard to get to be the leader of a nation and be a mother ... I am having a hard time getting depressed about that.

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This author is addressing her experience within a given demographic - highly educated, career minded women. Her recognition that she couldn't "have it all" meant that she stepped back from her job and "settled" into a full time professor at Princeton, writing and taking many speaking engagements a year. I would be thrilled to think my daughters could grow up and have that life. She's a tenured professor at an Ivy League school, for goodness sake. She's MADE it, by my calculations. Yeah, she sacrificed something more powerful and prestigious, but I have a hard time feeling negative about our daughter's futures because they may have to make that kind of sacrifice.

 

I think all working mother's struggle with the burdens of being needed to both children and their work. But for many women, it's worth it. I know many, many women who are doctors, lawyers, professors. I have seen their compromises. I know a few female doctors who only work a few days a week. One just works one day a week. I know women who have left the work force for a year then rejoined. I know attorneys who have chosen to be "part time" - which for attorneys is never really part time, lol, but it keeps you flexible, if off the partnership track. This doesn't seem disappointing to me. It seem fabulous. If you have a happy marriage and are freed from the pressure of being the sole bread winner, you have so many options IF you are well established in your career.

 

I have never regretted leaving the practice of law in order to homeschool and be a full time mother. But I have friends who continued practicing law who have very wonderful children and are quite happy. It's just different choices.

 

I'm not saying it's a bed of roses. Life can be hard. But I think todays women have wonderful potential and opportunities, and if not "having it all" means it's hard to get to be the leader of a nation and be a mother ... I am having a hard time getting depressed about that.

 

:iagree: And who CAN have it all, really? There are always choices to be made. Sometimes you don't want to have to make them, but they still have to be made, and something has to be sacrificed. That's life.

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I heard an interview with her on Friday's Marketplace

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/can-women-actually-balance-work-and-home-life

 

What I thought was interesting was her ideas about work flexibility:

Slaughter: Well, we start by having a really honest conversation about the barriers. And the reason I wrote the piece was that simply telling younger women: 'You can do it.' You know, if you want it badly enough, and if you marry the right person -- it's not enough. I don't think that's honest. A lot of women are out there blaming themselves when in fact, we can make a lot of changes. We can make it much easier for women, and again, men, to work outside the office as many sort of new innovative businesses are already doing. We can make it such that women and men can take time out in the sense of deferring promotions. And we can change the way we look at both men and women and say, 'Look, wanting to spend time with your kids does not make you any less a committed professional.'

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It came across to me like Elite whining. Oh, I just can't take this commuting -guess I will go back to being a tenured prof at Princeton...

 

My iPad capitalized elite for some reason.

 

This was the sentiment of much of the nytimes comments. It felt a bit disingenuous for her to be complaining about leaving her directorship for her tenured position :001_huh:. On the other hand I think many average women can relate to her fundamental predicament of having demands from employment while a troubled child languishes.

 

To be fair, though, most of the people I know (male or female) who are successful in their careers are workaholics to some degree-- they put work first no matter what other obligations and stressors exist in their lives. So to say society suddenly needs to change to accommodate moms seems a bit... I don't know... "crooked" while there are still people willing to devote themselves above and beyond to their jobs.

 

This isn't to uphold workaholism as an ideal, but shouldn't the people who work the hardest and sacrifice the most, be the most rewarded?

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One of the best ways to achieve that flexibility would be for the US to detach health insurance from jobs. We force parents into an all or nothing mentality instead of allowing them to be both good workers and good parents.

 

And also to have more comprehensive family leave policies, including care of parents. It's hard to imagine what will happen as more women have both parents and kids to care for.

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I have friends in NY who might seem to have it all if you look at it from the outside. They have a totally renovated, gorgeous house in Long Island. They have 3 lovely boys. He works for Google and she works in the fashion industry, so both have high-paying jobs. They have a live-in nanny. They take nice vacations. He's a gadget geek, so they have every gadget under the sun. Nice cars. Nice clothes. From the outside looking in at it superficially, they seem to have it all. Spend a week with them, and you'd see they really don't. With their jobs and their commutes, they usually get home around 8:00 at night, have dinner with the kids, bathe them, and get them to bed by 9:00 if they're lucky. They're up at 5:00 the next morning to start all over again. They have help, it's true, but they work really hard to pay for that help and do the best they can to spend as much time with their boys as possible. With a live-in nanny, they also don't get the privacy as a couple they would like to have because the nanny is always there. I wouldn't want their life. It works for them, but wouldn't work for my family. After visiting them, both DH and I were floored at the sheer amount of effort it takes them to keep it all going. We were exhausted watching them, and the dad was on paternity leave at the time and had things relatively easy. They deserve everything they have because they work darn hard for it!

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About her situation particularly though - I mean, honestly, who thinks that a career that involves living away from your family would be conducive to family life? Even if her children were grown and out of the house and her husband were working, that's not a good recipe for marriage, not if it's constantly like that. That's why it particularly struck me as whining.

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I heard the NPR piece on this. It was really fascinating.

 

I think it was really naive of women a generation or two ago to believe that it was possible to 'have it all'. Had they taken a close look at their fathers, brothers, and husbands, they should have seen that very few people find themselves in ideal jobs where they have it all. But for some reason they believed that if they just had the same opportunities as men, everything would magically work out.

 

These days many women were raised in a society that promised them they could 'have it all', that it was possible to raise a family and have a great job. I think this is where a lot of the disillusionment is coming from. For most people, the reality of working a job is nothing like the ideal they had in mind of their perfect, fulfilling job. And even if they do manage to land the perfect job, it's still very hard to balance family and work. Nearly everyone has to make sacrifices somewhere - either work or family - and I do think that many young to middle-aged women these days were not expecting that. They truly believed they could have it all and do it all. It's very sad.

 

Of course, some women have found those perfect jobs that let them be the mothers they want to be - and good for them! Some men strike a perfect balance between work they love and being devoted fathers. Good for them! That's really a wonderful situation, and I hope more people are able to do what they love in life without sacrificing their family. I just hate seeing my disillusioned friends who feel like it's their fault their work-life balance isn't working. :(

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It came across to me like Elite whining. Oh, I just can't take this commuting -guess I will go back to being a tenured prof at Princeton...

 

My iPad capitalized elite for some reason.

 

I did pick up on that. I feel she was a poor example of a working mom and not representative of the masses.

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But, men cannot have it all either. Nobody can. My dh has avoided certain assignments because we don't want to be separated as a family more than necessary. Other guys take those assignments because they don't have families or are divorced or maybe they haven't been deployed before and need the experience. We chose to stay on the military and move around. We don't live close to our families.

 

Of course you have to make choices. Everybody does.

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I have met women who "have it all" .... and every single one of them has had a husband whose career is a lower priority or less demanding, or doesn't WOHM at all, and relatives in the local area who are available to help with the kids as needed.

 

I was very frustrated to figure out that "having it all" was never going to work out for me because my husband has a very demanding job that often requires long hours, and we had children without any local family or support system. When it comes to childcare not being available for some reason, the buck stops with me. There is no backup plan. I was not able to maintain my employment with no backup child care. I tried really hard to make it work, and just had to give up. I felt pretty guilty about it for a while, because maintaining a career was always my plan...but then I realized that all of the career moms I know either have some super flexible arrangement (which I was never able to get in any job) or someone in their life who can provide as-needed child care.

 

So, I think women can have it "all", with the right supports in place. But nobody has it all completely on their own.

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If my memory serves, the early feminists said "You can have it all, but not all at once." The second wave feminists, or perhaps the media, dropped the second half of the sentence.

 

(Don't ask for footnotes, my sole women studies class at uni was a long time ago now. :p)

 

Rosie

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This quote from the article resonated with me:

 

Ultimately, it is society that must change, coming to value choices to put family ahead of work just as much as those to put work ahead of family. If we really valued those choices, we would value the people who make them; if we valued the people who make them, we would do everything possible to hire and retain them; if we did everything possible to allow them to combine work and family equally over time, then the choices would get a lot easier.

 

I have an advanced degree in science, and right now, it seems like the choice to put family ahead of work is not valued within the scientific community. As a result, there are few part-time or flexible-schedule options available (particularly in the physical sciences and in academia).

 

I would love to run a business someday which would be able to hire women with science degrees who would like a flexible work schedule. My husband and I had two children while in grad school. We both have advanced science degrees now, but we've decided that I'll stay home with the kids for now while my husband pursues his career. I'd love the option of having a part-time science/research/education job, and I know lots of other women with science degrees who'd like the same, even if it's only for a few years while our children are young.

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If my memory serves, the early feminists said "You can have it all, but not all at once." The second wave feminists, or perhaps the media, dropped the second half of the sentence.

 

(Don't ask for footnotes, my sole women studies class at uni was a long time ago now. :p)

 

Rosie

 

IMO, feminism has never been about making things better for mothers. I've read some works by feminists who seemed to have real issues with their own mothers.

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I still don't know what "have it all" means, though.

 

I think that in raising daughters, it's important to encourage a work ethic and a sense of delayed gratification. A preference for a frugal lifestyle helps, too. And a well-rounded, solid education. Because she'll need all of these to be flexible enough to be ready when the right opportunities strike.

 

I think that for a woman with both family and professional goals, early career development could be viewed as "nesting." The more secure you are in your career, job, and finances, the more ready you are to add children to the mix and do right by them. A working mom needs to have career flexibility, but that does not mean she has to have an unimportant or uninteresting job. When I became a mom, I was at the point in my career where I could choose to work at home almost all the time, take my kids for appointments during the work day without getting dinged, refuse to travel without my kids, etc. And also, I was at a place financially where if my job and kids couldn't coexist after all, my family would not starve. After all, you really never know what is going to happen when you have kids. Any of us could find ourselves needing to devote all our waking hours to a special needs child.

 

I would never say I "have it all," but neither does any other woman or man I know - childless or not. However, I do have "enough." I try to model to my kids a positive but balanced view of the professional life.

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I don't think anyone can "have it all". It's Econ 101: opportunity cost. Every choice we make comes with the de facto rejection of the "other" choice. That doesn't make choices wrong, mean they cant be reversed, or cant be balanced out, but I think it's unrealistic to think you can have it all.

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LOL...cleaning out a drawer and found this old comic strip a friend gave me -

 

"The Problem Women Face"

 

A woman is asking out loud, "How can I have a satisfying marriage, raise successful kids, and develop a fulfilling career all at the same time?"

 

A voice from outside the frame says, "Simple. I'll help..."

 

next frame-

"The Face of Their Problem"

 

You can now see a man holding a can of beer or soda and he continues talking, "...right after the X Files."

 

:D

 

Quite appropriate to this discussion.

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But, men cannot have it all either. Nobody can. My dh has avoided certain assignments because we don't want to be separated as a family more than necessary. Other guys take those assignments because they don't have families or are divorced or maybe they haven't been deployed before and need the experience. We chose to stay on the military and move around. We don't live close to our families.

 

Of course you have to make choices. Everybody does.

 

:iagree:

 

My MIL was geared up to be a SAHM. Widowed at a young age with five kids she opted to educate herself to have a career and not just a job. There were many times she was unable to be a parent. My dh was the one that needed a strong hand (she had it) as a parent, it showed in his teenage antics (thankfully we didn't know each other then).

 

She ended up career success and I've very happy for her. However, there is no doubt the lack of parenting time affected my dh in his choices. She didn't have a choice and I applaud her for striving for a career that would provide a lifestyle, instead of a job that would keep her in poverty.

 

So I have mixed feelings. My mom stayed home, it's all she wanted. I remember my MIL telling me how she like baking cookies and that's the kind of parent she had been happy to be. She's a very driven person too.

 

But I know my limits. Dh and I agreed that someone would be home. Dh also guards his working time. It's important to him to be have an active parenting role.

 

I'm trying to work part-time at home this summer. Thankfully I have flexibility because between dh being between jobs (starts a new job tomorrow), attempting to plan school, one kid, one dog, and an old cat with bowel issues, I'm having a hard time getting 4 full hours in a day. It's messing with anxiety level a tad this week. :glare:

 

I try not to genderize these talks with ds. I want him to have a successful career and a fulfilling personal life. I can't just tell him work hard and come home expecting the wife to have done it all, parenting, housework, being there. We don't model that, in fact dh is cooking dinner right now. I don't know how I'd approach this with a dd. I held a lot of jobs before I married, but never really a chosen career. I sometimes wish I had pursued those goals prior to settling down, because now I barely have time to focus on my personal needs, much less any professional ones.

 

In the end there are only 24 hours in the day. I have to choose who to spend it with and what to focus on. Right now I'm going to go eat dinner with my family.

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IMO, feminism has never been about making things better for mothers. I've read some works by feminists who seemed to have real issues with their own mothers.

 

I've only read works by Australian feminists; that could be the difference. And I was talking about first wave, not second wave feminism. Most of the second wave feminist works I've read were a bit, uh, uptight.

 

Rosie

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She's a tenured professor at an Ivy League school, for goodness sake. She's MADE it, by my calculations. Yeah, she sacrificed something more powerful and prestigious, but I have a hard time feeling negative about our daughter's futures because they may have to make that kind of sacrifice.

 

I see what you're saying, but what I took away from the article was that despite the perfect petri dish, the right specimin simply didn't grow. Perfect opportunity, impeccable credentials, fully supportive husband, uber feminist Hillary Clinton as your boss-- and she ran home because she felt her mom duties were more important. Ask yourself, would a man have done the same thing? And it's not just her, this same script is played out by any number of high powered women who fold and want to be home with their kids. Anna Quindlen comes to mind. FTW I applaud the women for putting mommyhood first but I am deeply struck by the irony of women aspiring so deeply for something only to functionally discard it once their children need them.

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Of course, some women have found those perfect jobs that let them be the mothers they want to be - and good for them! Some men strike a perfect balance between work they love and being devoted fathers. Good for them! That's really a wonderful situation, and I hope more people are able to do what they love in life without sacrificing their family. I just hate seeing my disillusioned friends who feel like it's their fault their work-life balance isn't working. :(

 

There was a heartbreaking comment to the nytimes article where a woman said that she didn't realize she couldn't have it all until it was too late, i.e. she was too old to have children. :sad:

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..... With their jobs and their commutes, they usually get home around 8:00 at night, have dinner with the kids, bathe them, and get them to bed by 9:00 if they're lucky. They're up at 5:00 the next morning to start all over again. They have help, it's true, but they work really hard to pay for that help and do the best they can to spend as much time with their boys as possible. With a live-in nanny, they also don't get the privacy as a couple they would like to have because the nanny is always there. I wouldn't want their life.

 

 

Something else to consider..... someone ELSE is bringing up their children. Someone else is instilling values, seeing to aches/pains, watching over them. No matter how fabulous the Nanny is... she is not their parent & will not have their same way of thinking. These parents may spend "quality time".... but the quantity is lacking. I wouldn't want that life either.... their children will be strangers to them later. Sad story.

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I encourage my DD to follow her passions & interest, use her strong will to drive herself, and nurture her entrepreneur spirit. However, I strongly advise her to seek paths that will lead her to being SELF EMPLOYED or have more control over her work hours, etc.

 

I show her women in our community who earn good incomes but only work in the afternoons (dance studio or piano lessons, for example). Women who teach a few classes at a small college (less demanding than big schools and often part time), editing books/writing & even doing alterations-creative sewing (work as you can or in self-determined hours).

 

With all my degrees, I have NO special skill that I learned that can help contribute to my families income. I would have to work in industry or government. My regret.

 

If she wants to not just "stay at home" and thrives on earning some income.... I hope she can find something that SHE can manage her time & NOT punch a clock & leave her kids with a "stranger" most of the day.

 

Little off the path of the artile.... but I don't think we "can have it all"... it is a myth... something always get put to the side.... but for women with an entrepreneur spirit.... I think they can enjoy some level of business & home... but they have to be in charge of the schedule!

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FTW I applaud the women for putting mommyhood first but I am deeply struck by the irony of women aspiring so deeply for something only to functionally discard it once their children need them.

 

First of all, I have no desire to join the "Mommy wars" and start dismissing other people's decisions, but when I think of "putting Mommyhood first" as you say, I don't think of a full time, tenured professor at Princeton who frequently travels and speaks in addition to teaching and writing. I would call that, "being a full time working mother." If she's happy in her marriage and as a mother now, I think that's as close as I can imagine to, "having it all."

 

And I think many men would make the same decision. Sorry - my DH living apart from us would not be an option we would ever consider unless homelessness were the only other choice. My husband, by no stretch of the imagination, "has it all." Does anyone?

 

I think your daughters are going to have great choices. Some of them might choose not to work and to raise babies. Other's might work part time, help support their families, and still put in significant mothering time. And others might work full time and while it will be a struggle, that will be their choice. Some things will be beyond their control, of course, but to the extent we choose things, they will have great choices if they are diligent in obtaining an education and career.

 

Honestly, I think my sons have much worse choices. They probably won't get to choose not to work or to work part time. They probably will feel the burden of supporting their families all the time. I know a few families where the Dad is the caregiver, but precious few. It's not a choice most men get to make.

 

I have a hard time feeling a lot in common with a woman who is surprised that is sort of stinks to live apart from your family and who feels that quitting one job so that you can have life long tenure at another, incredibly impressive and probably fulfilling job, is a huge sacrifice.

Edited by Danestress
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My mom was a SAHM and I'm a feminist. I chose to be a SAHM as well because I've never bought into the possibility of being able to have it all. I also couldn't stand the thought of my children spending more time with someone other than either myself or DH.

 

But, men cannot have it all either. Nobody can. My dh has avoided certain assignments because we don't want to be separated as a family more than necessary. Other guys take those assignments because they don't have families or are divorced or maybe they haven't been deployed before and need the experience. We chose to stay on the military and move around. We don't live close to our families.

 

Of course you have to make choices. Everybody does.

 

:iagree: DH has made career sacrifices because he puts our family first. And, he would trade places with me in a heartbeat if I could earn the kind of money he does and be able to support us. (Not that I'd give it up; I know I have it good. :tongue_smilie:)

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I haven't read the article, but I agree with the sentiment. I am the breadwinner in our family because I have a career that allows me to work less than FT and still earn a decent living. This arrangement has resulted in more family time than most families have; but still, I don't feel that I've been the mom I would like to be due to job stress and being away from home too many hours. As my oldest dd is preparing to go to college, we've talked about how women perhaps can have it all (whatever "all" is), but certainly not all at the same time. We've talked about choosing a career that will give her multiple options when she starts a family or upon re-entering the job force after a break to be a sahm. It's ironic to me that one of the Big Four CPA firms is listed as a top 100 employer for women...why? Because they offer on site day care on Saturdays. Blech. Family friendly to me means part time employees are given opportunities to advance and have rewarding careers, and flexible schedules and telecommuting are available. The best thing about telecommuting is that sometimes my kids don't really need a lot of attention; but they are comforted knowing I'm nearby and they can get a hug any time. It's not perfect, but it's probably as close to "having it all" as possible.

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just not all at once! :D

 

There is a time for kids, and there is a time for career. But not both.

 

Choose what is important when it is important! If you choose both, both will suffer. You can not adequately do both at the same time. If you think you can, you are not being truthful with yourself.

 

Hot Lava Mama

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I read the WHOLE thing. I thought it was whiny. Professionally, she HAS accomplished a lot, but a woman that bright shouldn't have trouble getting her brain around the fact that a woman's fertile days are numbered or that children require a bit of time. These shouldn't be shocking revelations. She's doing well for herself. I refuse to be sad for her that she doesn't have more.

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just not all at once! :D

 

There is a time for kids, and there is a time for career. But not both.

 

Choose what is important when it is important! If you choose both, both will suffer. You can not adequately do both at the same time. If you think you can, you are not being truthful with yourself.

 

Hot Lava Mama

 

She addresses this in the article. Some careers just are not feasible, or very difficult, if you start late. She mentions academia and large law firms as places where she had never seen someone successfully break in if they are starting at 40 or so. On the other hand, if you do the career first you might not be able to have children do to simple biology.

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But, men cannot have it all either. Nobody can. My dh has avoided certain assignments because we don't want to be separated as a family more than necessary. Other guys take those assignments because they don't have families or are divorced or maybe they haven't been deployed before and need the experience. We chose to stay on the military and move around. We don't live close to our families.

 

Of course you have to make choices. Everybody does.

 

I don't think anyone can "have it all". It's Econ 101: opportunity cost. Every choice we make comes with the de facto rejection of the "other" choice. That doesn't make choices wrong, mean they cant be reversed, or cant be balanced out, but I think it's unrealistic to think you can have it all.

 

I thought the article was ok. Like others, I thought it was a little overdramatic and whiny for someone who in many ways does "have it all" in terms of a successful career and a family.

 

At the same time, I completely agree with the main idea and wish I'd heard it more myself growing up in the 1970s and 80s. My Mom was a SAHM and was very vocal about how important she thought it was for a mom to be home with her kids. At the same time she was very supportive of my desire to be a doctor from an early age. I knew that I wanted to be a doctor and I knew that I wanted to be a mother and I never really thought about how that would work. I didn't think about daycare because I imagined being home with my kids. I just didn't really think about it. I'm thankful for her support but looking back I find it amazing that NOT ONCE in all my years growing up did anyone ever discuss with with me how I would balance being a doctor and a mother.

 

Fast-forward many years and I ended up as a pediatrician, which is probably the easiest specialty to find a family-work balance in as it's almost all women these days and many desire to work part-time. When I was pregnant with my oldest my husband and I figured out a schedule that would work for us and went to both our employers with it. We were very blessed that they both were ok with it. We both work part-time. I'm about 40% with a lot of off-hours so dh is home anyway, he's about 80% and is home two half days a week. It works really well.

 

In many ways we have it all. Satisfying (but not high powered) careers, a family, the ability to both stay home and homeschool. At the same time we've both made sacrifices in our jobs and at home. I will never be a partner at work which means I have less financial benefits and less say in decision making. Dh will also never get promoted beyond his current level which effects his salary and his status in his firm. We've both had to miss various sporting events, concerts or activities because of work. We've certainly sacrificed on time together as a large number of our conversations revolve around the sign-off as one of us leaves for work.

 

I don't say any of that to complain. Our situation is ideal for us and works great for our family. But I think it's a real disservice to girls and to boys to imply that you can have it all. No one can. Either you have to give up a certain kind of career path or you give up time with your family.

 

I try not to genderize these talks with ds. I want him to have a successful career and a fulfilling personal life. I can't just tell him work hard and come home expecting the wife to have done it all, parenting, housework, being there. We don't model that, in fact dh is cooking dinner right now. I don't know how I'd approach this with a dd. I held a lot of jobs before I married, but never really a chosen career. I sometimes wish I had pursued those goals prior to settling down, because now I barely have time to focus on my personal needs, much less any professional ones.

 

At times I get tired of working and wish I could be just at home. I then make a list of the things that are good about work in my head. One of them is that we are modeling for our kids one way to balance family and work. I'm very glad that our boys and our daughter think it's normal to have "daddy days" and "mommy days" and that they see us both do most household jobs interchangeably.

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One friend has chosen to work as a freelance consultant; she is very well paid and is in constant demand. However, she does just as much as she decides is healthy for herself and her family.

 

This is what I do. I'm an adult education consultant. I develop curriculum and give professional development workshops for other teachers. It's been wonderfully flexible and I really enjoy my job.

 

One of the best ways to achieve that flexibility would be for the US to detach health insurance from jobs. We force parents into an all or nothing mentality instead of allowing them to be both good workers and good parents.

 

:iagree:

 

And also to have more comprehensive family leave policies, including care of parents. It's hard to imagine what will happen as more women have both parents and kids to care for.

 

How timely this is for me--- I sit here typing this in an exhausted fugue because my 78 year old, severely arthritic mother fell on Friday night. We spent all night in the ER and thankfully nothing is broken but she tore all the muscles off her sternum. I have an important meeting tomorrow morning at 10:00 am. I work an hour away. I'm trying to figure out how to juggle the meeting while caring for mom at home. Molly is away at camp this week and DH has to go to work, so somehow I'm going to have to find a way. Mom has been very healthy up until now but as the only (surviving) child, I have no one with whom to share the load.

 

Sigh.

astrid (even if I HAD it all, I'd forget where I put it. :D)

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I thought the article was ok. Like others, I thought it was a little overdramatic and whiny for someone who in many ways does "have it all" in terms of a successful career and a family.

 

At the same time, I completely agree with the main idea and wish I'd heard it more myself growing up in the 1970s and 80s. My Mom was a SAHM and was very vocal about how important she thought it was for a mom to be home with her kids. At the same time she was very supportive of my desire to be a doctor from an early age. I knew that I wanted to be a doctor and I knew that I wanted to be a mother and I never really thought about how that would work. I didn't think about daycare because I imagined being home with my kids. I just didn't really think about it. I'm thankful for her support but looking back I find it amazing that NOT ONCE in all my years growing up did anyone ever discuss with with me how I would balance being a doctor and a mother.

 

Fast-forward many years and I ended up as a pediatrician, which is probably the easiest specialty to find a family-work balance in as it's almost all women these days and many desire to work part-time. When I was pregnant with my oldest my husband and I figured out a schedule that would work for us and went to both our employers with it. We were very blessed that they both were ok with it. We both work part-time. I'm about 40% with a lot of off-hours so dh is home anyway, he's about 80% and is home two half days a week. It works really well.

 

In many ways we have it all. Satisfying (but not high powered) careers, a family, the ability to both stay home and homeschool. At the same time we've both made sacrifices in our jobs and at home. I will never be a partner at work which means I have less financial benefits and less say in decision making. Dh will also never get promoted beyond his current level which effects his salary and his status in his firm. We've both had to miss various sporting events, concerts or activities because of work. We've certainly sacrificed on time together as a large number of our conversations revolve around the sign-off as one of us leaves for work.

 

I don't say any of that to complain. Our situation is ideal for us and works great for our family. But I think it's a real disservice to girls and to boys to imply that you can have it all. No one can. Either you have to give up a certain kind of career path or you give up time with your family.

 

 

 

At times I get tired of working and wish I could be just at home. I then make a list of the things that are good about work in my head. One of them is that we are modeling for our kids one way to balance family and work. I'm very glad that our boys and our daughter think it's normal to have "daddy days" and "mommy days" and that they see us both do most household jobs interchangeably.

 

I think that is a great solution. Thank you for sharing, wish I had heard of that idea about 15 years ago as a teen. I really enjoy being doctor mom and sometimes wish I had pursued medicine. Maybe someday.

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I think the term "having it all" is misleading. On an absolute scale, men don't have it all, but compared to women, they do have it all. That is one reason there is such a dearth of women at the top levels of many careers. The men occupying the top levels often have families, and they are considered as having it all. They don't have to choose between family and career; they can have both. On the other hand, most women don't make it to the top levels because they do tend to choose between family and career. Thus women can't "have it all."

 

But, men cannot have it all either. Nobody can. My dh has avoided certain assignments because we don't want to be separated as a family more than necessary. Other guys take those assignments because they don't have families or are divorced or maybe they haven't been deployed before and need the experience. We chose to stay on the military and move around. We don't live close to our families.

 

Of course you have to make choices. Everybody does.

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Something else to consider..... someone ELSE is bringing up their children. Someone else is instilling values, seeing to aches/pains, watching over them. No matter how fabulous the Nanny is... she is not their parent & will not have their same way of thinking. These parents may spend "quality time".... but the quantity is lacking. I wouldn't want that life either.... their children will be strangers to them later. Sad story.

 

This assumes a whole lot; and is likely inaccurate. The bold, especially, is a huge leap.

 

To put my response in perspective, I ran daycares - some client kids I had 13 hours a day. Yet even THOSE clients were by far more attached to their parents, were developing showing parental (not my) values. Kids have a nearly infinite ability to fully bond with more than one adult. I didn't displace anyone in their lives - I simply added *to* it. Although I am a full time WOHM now, my kids years 0-12 were with me.

 

I used to be a staunch SAHM advocate, and I used to trot out the "other people raising them" line.

 

I don't believe it anymore. It's simply not true.

 

I no longer believe that:

 

1) Being at home and "focused on the family" or "motherhood" is best.

 

OR

 

2) Believe that having a career is best.

 

I think the real, authentic, honest answers for us and current generations is far too situation specific and nuanced. I, for one, was a better and more fulfilled *person* after I began meaningful study and work. This lead to me being a better wife AND mother. Yes, studying or working outside the home created a different pace, rhythm and dynamic to our family culture. It introduced a type of stress that had not been there. But it also revealed a type of joy and fulfillment I did not know what missing.

 

Today, I advocate for my children to value being whole spectrum persons - their roles and interests should transcend "mom" or "dad" but honor the developmental realities of the children they create.

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This author is addressing her experience within a given demographic - highly educated, career minded women. Her recognition that she couldn't "have it all" meant that she stepped back from her job and "settled" into a full time professor at Princeton, writing and taking many speaking engagements a year. I would be thrilled to think my daughters could grow up and have that life. She's a tenured professor at an Ivy League school, for goodness sake. She's MADE it, by my calculations. Yeah, she sacrificed something more powerful and prestigious, but I have a hard time feeling negative about our daughter's futures because they may have to make that kind of sacrifice.

 

I think all working mother's struggle with the burdens of being needed to both children and their work. But for many women, it's worth it. I know many, many women who are doctors, lawyers, professors. I have seen their compromises. I know a few female doctors who only work a few days a week. One just works one day a week. I know women who have left the work force for a year then rejoined. I know attorneys who have chosen to be "part time" - which for attorneys is never really part time, lol, but it keeps you flexible, if off the partnership track. This doesn't seem disappointing to me. It seem fabulous. If you have a happy marriage and are freed from the pressure of being the sole bread winner, you have so many options IF you are well established in your career.

 

I have never regretted leaving the practice of law in order to homeschool and be a full time mother. But I have friends who continued practicing law who have very wonderful children and are quite happy. It's just different choices.

 

I'm not saying it's a bed of roses. Life can be hard. But I think todays women have wonderful potential and opportunities, and if not "having it all" means it's hard to get to be the leader of a nation and be a mother ... I am having a hard time getting depressed about that.

 

My pet peeve about this discussion though...Having it all, working moms, they're almost always about a certain class of worker and almost never about the mothers making a living at the local donut shop or Walmart. The only discussion feminism seems to have about THOSE women is around the issue of daycare, as if the discussion of work/family balance doesn't apply to them. As if, oh well, they're a lost cause anyway so let's just get they're kids warehoused for them.

 

Don't get me wrong, I consider myself a feminist but I've also never worked a job that went beyond a retail cashier position and I have rarely heard that reality reflected in feminist debate.

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I think that is a great solution. Thank you for sharing, wish I had heard of that idea about 15 years ago as a teen. I really enjoy being doctor mom and sometimes wish I had pursued medicine. Maybe someday.

 

Yes, but it has been my experience that you first have to have proved yourself as a doctor and been successful before cutting back to part time, or one day a week, or whatever. It would be hard (impossible?)to come out of med school and expect to be hired somewhere just one day a week. Which means delaying family until after college, med school, and years of establishing yourself, at which point you may not biologically be able to have children anymore, and at best are increasing the risk of having genetic issues with your children.

 

Men just don't have that issue.

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My pet peeve about this discussion though...Having it all, working moms, they're almost always about a certain class of worker and almost never about the mothers making a living at the local donut shop or Walmart. The only discussion feminism seems to have about THOSE women is around the issue of daycare, as if the discussion of work/family balance doesn't apply to them. As if, oh well, they're a lost cause anyway so let's just get they're kids warehoused for them.

 

Don't get me wrong, I consider myself a feminist but I've also never worked a job that went beyond a retail cashier position and I have rarely heard that reality reflected in feminist debate.

 

That is why I love this article by Sandra Tsing Loh and the book by Gilbert on working women, as we discussed in this old thread, because they discuss the assumption that one has a great, creative, flexible job with a lot of decision making power, not working on an assembly line or cleaning toilets, or otherwise following others' orders.

 

Sandra Tsing Loh in the Atlantic Monthly ("I Choose My Choice!"), is a book review and discussion of A Mother's Work: How Feminism, the Market, and Policy Shape Family Life by Neil Gilbert. I so enjoyed reading the book and the article. The point that something is considered a "real" job when one is being paid to do something for some unrelated person, but is not one when one does it for a relative (e.g. tending to someone's toileting needs), really was an insightful one, I thought. Well, that and all the business of jobs being so fabulous, which assumes that you have an interesting and dynamic job. (As Sandra Tsing Loh says, like Oprah's!).

 

How timely this is for me--- I sit here typing this in an exhausted fugue because my 78 year old, severely arthritic mother fell on Friday night. We spent all night in the ER and thankfully nothing is broken but she tore all the muscles off her sternum. I have an important meeting tomorrow morning at 10:00 am. I work an hour away. I'm trying to figure out how to juggle the meeting while caring for mom at home. Molly is away at camp this week and DH has to go to work, so somehow I'm going to have to find a way. Mom has been very healthy up until now but as the only (surviving) child, I have no one with whom to share the load.

 

 

:grouphug:

Edited by stripe
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My pet peeve about this discussion though...Having it all, working moms, they're almost always about a certain class of worker and almost never about the mothers making a living at the local donut shop or Walmart. The only discussion feminism seems to have about THOSE women is around the issue of daycare, as if the discussion of work/family balance doesn't apply to them. As if, oh well, they're a lost cause anyway so let's just get they're kids warehoused for them.

 

Don't get me wrong, I consider myself a feminist but I've also never worked a job that went beyond a retail cashier position and I have rarely heard that reality reflected in feminist debate.

 

The author acknowledges that in the article, and says she knows she is insanely lucky, and is speaking only for a certain demographic.

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Don't get me wrong, I consider myself a feminist but I've also never worked a job that went beyond a retail cashier position and I have rarely heard that reality reflected in feminist debate.

 

Do you mean you never hear about the struggles of working class women in the "debate?" Because if you go to MS Magazine, which has always at least tried to be a voice of feminism, you will find countless articles about women and working conditions all over the world - articles about women going up against Walmart, fighting male dominated labor unions, struggling with childcare costs on a minimum wage salary, trying to get better working conditions in factories, etc.

 

I think feminists want to talk about these things and DO talk about them. I just don't think those conversations become part of the mainstream debate. I don't know why. I guess the article that started just thread is just somehow resonating more with women than an article about women failing to get promoted at Walmart.

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The only thing I have to say is based on the experience of a close family member. You would be suprprised at how much "home/family time" a tenured Ivy League professor has... It is much more than you think compared to other very high paying occupations. :001_smile:

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First of all, I have no desire to join the "Mommy wars" and start dismissing other people's decisions, but when I think of "putting Mommyhood first" as you say, I don't think of a full time, tenured professor at Princeton who frequently travels and speaks in addition to teaching and writing. I would call that, "being a full time working mother." If she's happy in her marriage and as a mother now, I think that's as close as I can imagine to, "having it all."

 

And I think many men would make the same decision. Sorry - my DH living apart from us would not be an option we would ever consider unless homelessness were the only other choice. My husband, by no stretch of the imagination, "has it all." Does anyone?

 

In terms of statistics, fewer men go part time when a child or family crisis arrives, or even use family leave act. Men are less likely to put work second to family which translates into more work hours, which in turn is arguably why comparatively fewer women are in the corporate and political echelons. This is off the top of my head, but I think I read a statistic that childless women out-earn men, which would imply it's not outright gender discrimination that maintains the earning and power inequalities still existent.

 

I asked my husband what he thought about men vs women and their attitude about work-family balance. He said that men don't see work as sacrificing family time. They see work as the sacrifice FOR family. I know very few women who think this way about their careers in an absolutist way.

 

As an aside my husband has been working out of state for nearly ten years now, and is only home on the weekends. Maybe we've just gotten used to it by now, but we're ok, and the things that aren't ok don't have much to do with his work schedule.

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Do you mean you never hear about the struggles of working class women in the "debate?" Because if you go to MS Magazine, which has always at least tried to be a voice of feminism, you will find countless articles about women and working conditions all over the world - articles about women going up against Walmart, fighting male dominated labor unions, struggling with childcare costs on a minimum wage salary, trying to get better working conditions in factories, etc.

 

I think feminists want to talk about these things and DO talk about them. I just don't think those conversations become part of the mainstream debate. I don't know why. I guess the article that started just thread is just somehow resonating more with women than an article about women failing to get promoted at Walmart.

 

D'uh on my part. That's an excellent point.

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