Let’s talk privilege for a hot second: I am privileged as hell and this post makes that pretty clear.
I’ve seen an article floating around Facebook the last couple of days entitled, “having it all kinda sucks.”
And to be honest, it got my heckles up every time I saw it. I didn’t read it at first, because I didn’t want to get mad–because I couldn’t help but feeling–that title is referring to ME. And guess what, MY LIFE DOESN’T SUCK!
But, I am also well versed enough in the internet to know that titles like that are meant to get a reaction. And it worked. After thinking about it a lot, and muttering to myself about it in the shower, I finally sat down and read the article. It was pretty good and on the surface I agree with a lot of what Amy Westervelt lays down. We need to have better support for women–better parental leave, better child care options, less double standards.
She makes a ton of great points and she really validates the super tough position women in our society face. It is literally impossible to do everything well at one time (to which I have to say, DUH). If you feel validated by this article, great. But I didn’t.
The general tone of the article (set by the title) is such a downer. She says, “Here’s the truth: You want to have a career and kids? You totally can, but both will suffer.”
Is this the truth? Maybe. I see Instagram photos of moms who do AMAZING projects and outings with their kids. Things I could never think of if someone had a hot poker to my eyeball. I can’t go into a craft store and buy cotton balls and build the taj mahal out of it (I didn’t get the craft gene). I don’t even have time to look up things on pinterest and get the supplies.
Two colleagues that started at the same time as me are now above me in our hierarchy. They got promotions that I didn’t. They spend longer hours in the office and take on more work–they are awesome. I can’t do that as much because of my obligations with my kids. I also took 7 months off and had two babies in two years.
So…reading that…is my career suffering? Are my kids suffering? Suffer means to experience something bad or unpleasant. So, by “society’s” definitions, yes. My career has not moved as quickly and I don’t have time to do as much with my kids. I’m not leaning in. I’m not opting out. But does this mean things are suffering?
And what if it does mean that? What is the solution? The article suggests that “we” need to “make it okay for women to [insert choice here].” She says, “Let’s redefine “having it all,” or better yet let each woman define for herself what the best version of her life might look like.”
I’m going to take this a step further and say, YOU need to make it okay for yourself. You need to find what works for you. You aren’t going to get validation from society. NOBODY feels validation from society. Find your strength. Find your balance. Its not going to look like mine. Its not going to look like Amy’s.
The article stresses the pressure to fit in a (literally impossible) mold of super employee and super mom. Who cares if the laundry isn’t done and your toes look like crap? Who cares if you only took one day off of work to have your baby? If you answer, I CARE! Then change it. Throw the mold on the ground and stomp on it. Make your own mold (if you got the crafty gene).
Prioritize your life based on your skills and your desires (and let’s be real, your needs–eh hem, paycheck). But it will not.all.get.done.well. It just won’t. But make the things that don’t get done well the stuff that you don’t care about as much. I’m slightly chubby and wear yoga pants and no make up. And I don’t give a crap. Only you can decide what is going to slip. Not some “we,” not “society.” You.
And here’s the truth: I am not suffering. I am compromising. And I refuse to be unhappy. I make my own happiness. Do I feel a pang of jealousy when I see skinny, fashionable moms doing 14 nature hikes a week with their kids, or traveling the country homeschooling in an RV, or when someone else gets an accolade that I don’t at work? Yes. Would my kids like to spend more time with me? Yes. Would my boss like me to do more? Yes. But I prioritize my life in way that makes me happy and gets shit done the best I can and I own (and love) my choices.
I can’t have it all and it doesn’t suck.