Women in positions of great power are weighing in with a variety of responses. Sheryl Sandberg (who I’ve referenced in previous posts) says yes, with the right partner and enough drive. Coming at it from a different perspective is Anne-Marie Slaughter who elaborated on this topic at great length in The Atlantic. After years of serving as a role model to young women starting out in their careers, and exemplifying the epitome of juggling, she now says nope. Not possible.
I say, define “all.”
I have a career. I have kids. And I have a helluva time holding it together. But who said it was supposed to be easy? If I wasn’t working, and instead was home full time raising three boys, I’d still feel like there wasn’t enough of me to go around. (I can say this with absolute certainty.) Yes, I left a cushy job with a great salary and benefits package when our oldest was born. But had I remained childless and stayed at the job, would I have found my way to the corner office? Probably not.
Not every kid is going to be the valedictorian, and not every woman or man is going to be the president of a company. Dave enjoys playing hockey, but I’m pretty sure it’s not fatherhood that kept him from a career as a professional hockey player. So we can engage in dialogues about what we’re not achieving when our devotions are split between the workplace and the home. But for most normal working parents, what I think gets sacrificed more often than not is disposable income, and hours on the weekend to watch an entire season of Downtown Abbey. Less so, the title of CEO.
This is not to say that our country is not sorely lagging in terms of family-friendly work policies, and that we shouldn’t, as a society, find better ways to support the people – men and women – who have both jobs and family commitments. It’s just that I don’t believe there is a magic wand, or law, that will make the stress go away. I can’t pine for some fairy tale version of adulthood or point fingers at anyone or anything for my frazzled state. Life is frenetic. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have novels. Or day spas, or therapists.
But this crazy life we’re living is a pretty good one. We have water, clean water, running out of our taps, and arable land. We have religious freedom. And we have the time and energy and mindfulness to be having these conversations in the first place.
Blessing – making the 5:18 train this evening and thus avoiding getting stuck in the bowels of Penn Station.