Why having it all seems impossible

I’ve been stewing about this topic for weeks and weeks and only now do I feel the courage to write what I’m thinking. 

Why does having it all seem so impossible?   Why is it so difficult to achieve a happy medium where balancing home and career isn’t so complicated and difficult. 

I have many friends that have children about to take the leap into the public school system.   I warned them all that this is when it starts to get truly complicated. The corporate 9-5 and the school schedules never match 1:1.   Yes, there is before-care and after-care. Yes, there are options.  Those options don’t dismiss the guilt we often feel as mothers and parents.

I often wonder why I can’t be more like the moms that drop off their kids at 7 am and pick up at 6 pm with what seems no guilt whatsoever.  Maybe they just do a good job to hide it.   Quite possibly, I live in a world all my own. A world of self imposed guilt.  Is it me? Or, are there more of you out there who are just like me? 

My husband says it’s about control, that I want full control of everything. Quite possibly, he is right.  Quite possibly, he is wrong.   Quite possibly, I just want it all.

I’ve dreamt of scenarios where I have the opportunity to speak openly to employers around the world about this very topic.  In my dream I stand upon a podium and lecture companies about how they should continue to plow forward in their efforts to drive change for parents who crave for greater flexibility.   

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently set off quite a debate in the tech world when she told an interviewer that she works a 9-to-5 schedule. She said, “I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids.” She goes on to say, “I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly.   You can read the full article here if you are interested.

Quite a debate was stirred about this. As an example of one such debate it implies that those that work standard hours could possibly be overlooked for promotion.   There were more debates of course , just go on google to read about them all.  

You may be surprised to know I think she is full of shit. And I don’t believe she helped our cause any…

I do not believe for one second that she is speaking the full truth.  Yes, I believe she may have left work at 5:30.  However, did she work 5 hours every night when she put the kids to sleep?   Did she lose the ability to enjoy any personal hobbies a result of having to work 5 hours in the evening to compensate for the fact she left the office at 5:30?   Did she never look at her blackberry or iphone and respond to conference calls post 5:30 pm? How did she handle that exactly? Did she decline meeting invitations or did she simply ‘propose’ a new time using the “propose a new time” functionality offered in Microsoft Outlook?  Was it public knowledge at google and then again at Facebook that she was off limits post 5:30 or was she taking conference calls from the dinner table or soccer field? 

(I’m reminded of the scene from the old TV show “Lipstick Jungle” where one of the working moms took a conference call from her hallway closet so she can have peace and quiet).  PS… I am quite certain I did that a few times.

My point is this: If you are going to speak the truth, then speak the full truth because I am not the only person that believes you speak only part of the story.

Balancing work and family is complicated and those of us still struggling with this do not appreciate those that make it sound like we are a bunch of idiots.

Comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Amen, sister! I do agree that it gets more complicated when the kids go to school. I will have one in middle school and one in elementary school this year, add in soccer, scouts and everything else and I’ve finally decided I just can’t do it anymore. Hubby travels frequently and we’ve discussed me quitting for months now and I am officially giving notice next week. Will come as a surprise to many since I have the MBA and have given much to succeed in my chosen career. I realize I am lucky that we will be able to get by financially (but sacrifices will be made).
    I’m just tired of being exhausted and feeling like I don’t have the best parts of me left for my family.

    • Hi Elizabeth, thanks for writing! Congratulations on your decision to leave and stay home. I am 100% positive that was a difficult decision as I’ve been there before. It will be tough, though, because your job is so much a part of your identify so be sure to have some time dediated so you can enjoy the things you love (your hobbies, etc). I know the feeling to be exhausted all the time. It’s terribly draining both emotionally and physically to feel like you have to be all things to all people all the time! just thinking about it makes me tired 🙂 lots of love and luck to you ! xoxo

  2. Anonymous says:

    When thinking about your guilt and other working moms, ask yourself, does your husband feel guilt for working full days?

    If he doesn’t, why do you?

    • In my opinion, woman just handle their guilt so much differently then men. We let it consume us more, both emotionally and physically. Men seem to get over it and move on. The conundrum we face as woman is that we may spend years earning our education but at the end of the day we have a choice to make. No hard decisions are ever easy.

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