Recently, I picked up the latest issue of The Atlantic, because the cover story grabbed my attention. It read, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.” The author, Anne-Marie Slaughter, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, and the mother of two teenage boys, is also the former director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department from 2009-2011. In other words, a woman who many would consider a supermom.
Initially, the coverline irritated me the same way Time magazine’s May 12, 2012 coverline “Are you Mom Enough?” made me seethe. (I won’t digress into a blog about the need for society to stop pitting women against each other, or about my thoughts on why the team at Time put that image on their cover. Our own Katie Dupuis covered it perfectly.)
The terms “enough” and “all” are totally subjective. Can women have a career and a family? Of course we can. We just have to be honest with ourselves: What is our “all?” It’s different for every person and every parent. Some parents may feel having it all means a nice house with a fancy car and a cute spouse and two kids. Others may like the idea of having a 9-5 job with little pressure, so they can enjoy their leisure time. Everyone is clearly different. My parenting philosophy has always been: What works for your family is the right decision! And what works for my family may not work for yours.
In my opinion, the only struggle we have as parents is the pursuit of happiness for ourselves and our families. Slaughter eventually comes to the same conclusion in her story. I loved her essay because I was left asking myself many hard questions about how I can make Today’s Parent an even better environment for our awesome team.
While recognizing that not all women have the luxury of even attempting to balance work/life (for some, it’s literally a matter of survival), Slaughter pointed out that for those who choose to spend more time with their families, or stay-at-home with their children, some would criticize that they are letting down the generation before us, those who fought for gender equality in the work place. Taking it a step further, she hypothesizes that we may also be setting up the next generation for failure. (As if worrying about ourselves wasn’t challenging enough, we need to recognize what message we are sending as a group, as well.)
Do you strive for work/home balance? If so, how? Or do you think we are over-analyzing the issue and putting too much pressure on ourselves?
Should we just give ourselves a bit of a break?