Mountain View Mommy: Sand, Trucks and Testosterone

February 7, 2007

Having it all?

Filed under: Thinking — by mvmommy @ 12:00 am

Today I received an email from the mother’s club that I belong to. The email was entitled: Is It Really Impossible to “Have It All”. Usually I delete most of the emails, but this one intrigued me. So I kept reading. That was my mistake.

The first line indicated that the email was for mom’s who “have ‘big’ careers, say either a VP or above executive at a large public company, or an entrepreneur who has built a multi-million dollar business”. Then the emailer asks these people “is it really impossible to ‘have it all’… defining having ‘it all’ as a ‘high octane, challenging and fulfilling career and a wonderful family/personal life’.

Later in her email, she explains that she always knew it was possible to have ‘a mediocre career and preserve the well-being of your family’. Asking, if one could ‘have an extraordinary career’ and do that too? She also goes onto say that there are no women in her Rolodex that fit this description of having it all … except for a couple who have what she called ‘house husbands’.

I can’t tell you how fired up I am about the email. Seriously, I wish that person had posted her email with her own name and not anonymously. I would have a few things to say to her.

Who says that an ‘extraordinary’ career has to be “a VP or above executive at a large public company, or an entrepreneur who has built a multi-million dollar business”? What about someone who has an extraordinary career but is a nurse, or fireman, or teacher, or artist? What about someone who works in a flower shop because they love it (I found that to be an extraordinary career for myself)? I mean seriously, are VP’s and multi-millionaires the only careers out there that are considered extraordinary? If so, I am sorry to tell her that the percentage of people, not just women, that have jobs like that are very very small. Maybe THAT’s why she can’t find someone in your Rolodex who has it all!

And why can’t a woman with any career be good role model of ‘having it all’? Are they not a success at work because they don’t have a 6 digit income? Can’t we concede that it’s possible that people aren’t ‘compromising’ when they work in field that does not fall within her narrow parameters? Many women CHOSE their career. They weren’t forced into it. They didn’t opt out, because of their kids. AND they ALSO face the same issues when trying to balance their work, their family and their personal lives.

Thankfully, she doesn’t really talk about what makes a ‘great wife and mother’. A concept that is equally impossible to define adequately, unless you have walked a mile in each woman’s shoes. I guess I should be patting her on the back for not stereotyping that as well. Likewise, I bet there are few husbands I know that would really be ticked off if they found out they were being called ‘house husbands’.

In the end, she she does throw out two sentences allowing for the fact that there might be another life outside of her own personal views. Saying that she realizes that women can find fulfillment outside of corporate or entrepreneurial empires, and that the definition of ‘having it all’ is a personal one. But, this two second concession to calm me down didn’t really work, nor did it seem sincere as she kept barrelling on.

I guess my problem is that I often find that my ‘fellow mothers’ are the WORST at stereotyping and making other women feel bad about themselves and their choices. It is often another mother who has something to ever-so-nice to say about my career choice, my ability as a parent, or my skill as a wife. It’s as if they feel that by birthing a child, they are entitled to their opinions and that they don’t have to be sensitive or considerate about it. Prior to birth, they may have had some ability to sensor themselves, thus displaying an appropriate level of courtesy to the differences of others. But when that baby popped out, so did the filter from their brain to their mouth.

Ugh, there is so much to say, and I could go on for hours. Yet I am not eloquent enough to pull it off. Clearly she feels that only women in ‘big careers’ are the ones who face this issue. Frankly it is just her opinion, and she is entitled to it. I just wish that she had the sense to ask her friends in a private setting, not send it out to hundreds of mothers all over the bay area.

And even if it does make my blood boil…. I can only hope that what she really meant to ask was : can both people in a couple be at the top of their field -whatever it may be – and still have a successful and happy family life? (Thanks Shannon for putting it so nicely) The debate is actually a good one, but not if you make stereotypes about who can discuss the issue and who can’t.

I bet that there are millions of parents out there who wrestle with the issue of ‘having it all.”. And I bet those millions of parents… don’t all have millions of dollars in the bank. And I am sure their families are great, if not wonderful.


1 Comment »

  1. Just found you through your comment on SV moms. I had a similar reaction to that post, although I tried not to think about it too much. I thought you summarized your thoughts quite nicely. I’ve laerned to read and laugh or cringe at a lot of these posts so that I don’t get too worked up. Now I must be off to my mediocre career 🙂

    Comment by Nicole — February 10, 2007 @ 12:17 am |Reply

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