Posts tagged " having it all "

Woman Up – and BTW Here’s a Hug

July 7th, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting No Comment yet

Recently, one of our daughters sent my husband and me a link to a podcast that she thought we would find interesting. We did. We each independently listened and then we each responded to the podcast’s creator, Kate Hendricks. I asked if I could share the link to her podcast with my Practical Parenting and Musings audiences and she graciously assented. Here is the link and then the two, rather different, reactions from my husband and me.

https://soundcloud.com/user-933750849/permission-to-speak-freely-i

Here is my husband’s note to Kate:

Just listened to your “Women Can’t Have It All” podcast on the advice of my wonderful daughter #6, a recently married executive in NYC.  You sound so wonderfully genuine; I felt I was being granted a glimpse into your soul.  I travel a lot on business and the most heartrending sight I see on almost every trip (perhaps I am especially alert to it) is women with anguished expressions talking on their phones in the Admiral’s Club or the Red Carpet Club wishing their kids goodnight or trying to assure them of how soon they will be home.  It’s sometimes more than I can bear.  The women whose letters you read filled me with sadness especially since I am often asked to talk to husbands who are cajoling their wives back to work soon after a baby.  Just wanted to thank you.

Here is my letter to Kate:

Dear Kate,

My daughter forwarded me your podcast and quite frankly as I listened to it I had two conflicting emotions. At the same time I wanted to hug you and pat you on the back as well as bark at you like a Marine Sergeant and tell you to “Woman Up!”

The podcast I heard is titled, “I Don’t Think Women Can Have It All.” I would ask where you possibly got the impression that any human being can have it all except that I think this is a lie that society has been peddling for too many years. Do you honestly think that men can have it all? If nothing else, the rising male suicide rate should make you question that assertion.

The myth of “having it all” is exacerbated by social media. The ease with which we can share our emotions with others and share the emotions that thousands of people choose to share with us is the proverbial blessing and curse. On the positive side we can forge relationships with those we might never otherwise meet and we can feel less alone when facing a difficulty that those in our immediate vicinity are not facing.

On the negative side, it has encouraged us to feel like failures no matter what we do.  In the olden days, we had to cope once a year with getting Christmas cards from friends extolling the accomplishments and achievements of their children. Or maybe we received a few pictures in the mail from a friend whose professional performance allowed her to travel to an exotic locale when we are strategizing simply to make it to the drugstore to buy a new lipstick. Now, the accomplishments and achievements of strangers continually assault us.

On the flip side, we are also too easily tuned in to the frustrations and disappointments of others. When we were young mothers, a friend and I would sometimes telephone each other with a “poor baby” call. Maybe three kids had the stomach flu, maybe someone spilled cereal over the floor one too many times, maybe we just couldn’t handle constantly being on call. Not to mention having to make supper again and again and again. We would call, identify the call as a “poor baby” and get a few seconds of sympathy. We did not then call dozens of more friends and replay our self-pity party over and over. The expectation that life should be a breeze along with the ability to get positive feedback for complaining has turned us into a bunch of dissatisfied whiners.

Here are some truths. Life is full of challenges. There are challenges to working full-time, there are challenges to not working; there are challenges to being married, there are challenges to being single; there are challenges to being female, there are challenges to being male; there are challenges to having children and there are challenges to being childless. This is true whether one had a choice of didn’t have a choice in any of these things. As recent studies on grit have shown, there are even challenges to not having enough challenges. Welcome to the real world.

My dear Kate, I have so much more to say to you. Actually, I say a lot more regularly on my blog and I am currently writing a book that says much more on the topic. My bottom line in response to your podcast and to the women who wrote you is that in life there is no choice we make that doesn’t have trade-offs. We can spend the majority of our time choosing to be grateful for what we have or we can live in a constant state of disappointment. We can accept the difficult aspects of our lives as normal, shed a few tears and do whatever is necessary to pick ourselves up or we can keep reaching for “having it all” and fail over and over again.

If you are interested, here is a blog post I wrote in response to a card from one of my six daughters (we have one boy as well and no, he isn’t our youngest) expressing her thanks for the sacrifices I made as a mother. I appreciated her gratitude and rejected her premise. I title it: Having It All. https://rabbidaniellapin.com/having-it-all/

Hugs from one mom to another,

Susan Lapin

From Bibs to Boardrooms (pub. Oct. 30, 2008)

August 8th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings 4 comments

 

 

 

I had lunch the other month with a powerful group of women. Around the table sat a highly intelligent and accomplished bunch made up of small business owners, executives, and/or entrepreneurs.

 

I didn’t meet these women through a business organization or college alumnae program. We actually met many years ago, when it seemed as if all of us were always pregnant or nursing (actually this wasn’t an illusion – for years we were always pregnant or nursing) and we spent a lot of time together learning, swapping advice, laughing, chatting and simply being there for each other. Had you asked us to look ahead at that point to the time when our children would be grown, I think you would have been met with sleep deprived gazes that couldn’t comprehend that there would be a day when diaper pails and bibs would no longer be the central decorating theme of our homes. Our short term goal was to get a solid night’s sleep, our long term one to finish a magazine article in one sitting; I certainly don’t think any of us anticipated our present lives, still dedicated to our families, but also engrossed in careers.

 

And yet, here we were. What had been a group of full time stay at home mothers who shopped together for triple strollers, bought pots at restaurant supply stores and were mistaken for a preschool when we went to the park en masse, had in the blink of an eye found ourselves the mothers of adults who no longer needed us hovering over them.

 

And while our husbands, by assuming full financial responsibility, had given us (and themselves) the precious gift of time with our young children, by the time those years passed, our families’ bank accounts were in dire need of infusion. While we all had college degrees and some of us more advanced ones, our resumes had huge spaces in them that were less than impressive to prospective employers.

 

Yet, somehow, as I looked around the lunch table, each of us when the time was right had turned the vast skills and experiences we had gained in those years of focusing on being wives and mothers and transformed ourselves into driven, competent, and savvy professionals. Rather than being discouraged by how little others would appreciate our home based accomplishments, we assessed our own talents and interests and carved out a niche for ourselves.

 

I think it is entirely possible that if in the early years of our marriages we had been aware of the financial realities of the future, we might have been drawn to make different, perfectly rational decisions. Perhaps we would have had fewer children or kept our feet in the door through part time employment, or opted for nannies to enable us to work full time. Looking back, I’m glad we were naïve. While I don’t advocate digging one’s head into the sand, sometimes we need to thank God for keeping the future hidden in a mist and trust ourselves that when we need to step up to the plate, we will be able to do so. 

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