Who can have it all?

Until yesterday, the subtitle of my blog was, “Trying to have it all… at once.”  I decided to remove it last night, for aesthetic reasons only.  Karma must not have taken too kindly to that because in today’s Atlantic Monthly, I found this.

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All

It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change. 

An op-ed by Anne-Marie Slaughter (Photo Source: Phillip Toledano)

I have been trying to have it all…at once…for the last seven years. There are times when it is hard, but honestly, who does not have hard times.  And the hardest times have not necessarily been because I have a job or kids or both, but because of life’s other stuff…illness, job loss, car repairs, and so on.

My success has not made it harder. Quite the opposite. I do not think that my “hard” is any harder than any full-time stay-at-home parent who has a full-time working spouse or any full-time worker with a secure job and family at home.  Each of these arrangements, just like my arrangement, works because of great support at home and at work and at least some flexibility in the management of the day.  All of these situations are no doubt full and busy, but I would not call one any harder than the other.

Now, people who do NOT have safety nets in family or friends or who work shift work and cannot take time off without it hurting their take home pay or who have bosses that are inflexible – they have it hard.  Struggling to make ends meet, or to find reliable, affordable child care, or to be the sole adult in your kids life (and I do not mean a two parent household per se…rather another adult, any adult, who is able to help out) – these are the things that make “having it all” impossible.

Don’t get me wrong.  Even when it is all working, I occasionally have to make a choice of which comes first, my kid or my job. And it is not always my kid. It just depends.  But the point is, I have a choice.

When I look at who this article addresses, the women at the top of the corporate or professional ladder, I think it is way off base.  The uber-successful moms can have it all because they have the resources to make it work.  It is the other moms (and dads) with little in the way of support at home or in the office or who have no extra funds to secure help that are stuck.  No support + no flexibility + no resources = no success.

Having it all is not easy, but it IS possible for today’s professional working woman and hopefully one day, it will be possible for all Americans to have a healthy, functional family and a good job and a happy life, all at the same time.

In the meantime, I have restored the subtitle of the blog as a reminder that it is possible for me to have it all and to not take for granted the reasons I can.  To my husband, my employer, my family, my friends, my kid’s schools and my caregivers… I am sending out a big, internet “thank you.”

And to you, dear reader, thanks for reading.

~Jennifer

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