The subject was how hard it is to be on a career track with goals once you become a mother. I agree it is hard. It is hard when moms are working just to make ends meet. It is hard when you make a choice or finances make a choice for you to stay home and raise children. Mostly it is just hard to be a mom - sorry Dads I know that you have your own challenges and expectations but this is a mom's perspective and maybe if you are a Dad you read on to see how many of us feel.
What irks me though about all of these articles, it could be the chip on my shoulder, is that they are about having it all, doing it all and doing it perfectly. Yet in the same vein we are somehow being made to feel bad for wanting to do it at all never mind perfectly.
I am a woman who is not defined only by the fact that I gave birth or by the choices I made to how many children I had. I made those choices and weighed my personal options as to why I had my children but that is a part of who I am and not all there is to me. It took me years to be ok with saying that and even as I write I can imagine how annoyed or angry or sanctimonious someone reading this will get. I love being a mother and it is by far the best part of me but it is not all I am. When will society learn this ? Maybe that is why the whole anti-choice, anti-birth control platform irks me - we are not just breeders.
The article in the Times was about how it is hard to continue on a career path when you cannot always travel for work, or stay late because of child care. It pointed out that it is more often than not the mom who stays home with a sick child. Then there is my personal pet peeve all school meetings are now during the day - which means that at least one parent will have to take off from work and you guessed who they found that was usually I bet, I guess though if they were at night teachers who are moms would be faced with the same dilemma. I get the other perspective too, I mean if you are a colleague who doesn't have children by choice or by timing why should you always have to cover the away business trips, the long hours in the office?
Childcare is expensive and so involved these days so it is not that you have to get home, you have this idea of what meals to plan, to serve, to check homework, to plan events, to buy or make cupcakes for school functions, to ensure that every paper is signed, that field trips are covered ... even when you live in a place like I do where the moms in town never hesitate to live the motto "it takes a village" and help out you still want to be there for your kid because they too expect it.
Yet most of us have other wants .. we want to read, or watch tv uninterrupted, go to a movie with our friends, go for a drink, be creative, rest, run, play tennis, go to a play or whatever and many times we wish we could do it spontaneously. This happens with work, just to be able to call up and say hey I need to work late tonight without having to follow up with a carefully orchestrated back up plan and often an apology for wanting our careers or more simply our time to be the other parts of ourselves. Many dads I know are good at back up and pitching in but that is just it - with an exception or two they are backup and partially feel like they are helping you out when they do it. We see them that way too a lot of times but we shouldn't.
We need to be ok to wanting it all at whatever measure we want it, just like we should feel ok to want parts of it only. We are not better people for being mothers nor are we worse than those women who chose or could not have children. I am fortunate to work in a corporation that has come leaps and bounds since I started 17 years ago (yikes yes I started in the gifted Kindergartners program) where we can work from home and be able to take that child to the doctor, or see their mid day performance, or take a day off with pay to be a chaperone. I am grateful that no one rolls their eyes that I do not take week long travels and that we embrace a lot more webex even if it partially because it is more cost effective, who cares we all benefit. It is the way I manage my team and whether they have kids or not if they need to balance work and life I encourage it - it is not just the right way to be it is actually great for productivity. We need more companies to embrace this for their sake if not only for ours - to understand that the more we empower parents to be good workers and be there unapologetically in what their life's passions are the more they will work to move the business forward. The more successful women are in any society the hight standard of living and economy that country has - this is fact not wishful thinking that can be seen in model after model.
So I do not know if we want it all - I want lots of it because that is who I am. I want to succeed for me -- to do things that have nothing to do with my children - to be there for my boys in their hearts and confidence at all times. What I mostly want though is to see women stop being pushed to have it all or to have none of it and to be empowered instead to be able to have opportunities in life, in work, in love to be the best we can be.