I am a big fan and advocate of the Lean In movement. For those of you not familiar with it, this is my interpretation of it. We are at the point where in many ways, we women are simply holding ourselves back. We are letting our insecurities get the better of us and still not raising our hands enough, not sitting at the table enough, worried about families that we don’t even have yet and not actively involved in finding real partners when we settle down. That’s the super shortened version, here’s a link to purchase the full version: Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. It’s a great read.
In reading this book, and some feminist books and articles, I keep seeing that women can or can’t have it all. What is “it all?” These articles and such seem to believe that men have it all, but I don’t think that’s true either. It sounds like “it all” is a great family (which includes great family relationships), a great job, and a great home. There seems to be some disagreement on what “great” is too. Maybe a great job is one where you are at the top of your field or workplace. Maybe a great family is one where your spouse worships you and your kids are little angels who love your cooking and never get in trouble. Maybe a great home is a place that is always clean and big enough to comfortably house everyone and everything they could ever want.
I don’t think anyone has this. I don’t think men have this impossible standard now or ever. There will always be dishes and laundry to do. Children will always get in trouble (sorry to burst your bubble, but everyone gets in trouble some time over something. A perfect kid does not exist). People can hate going to a job that makes lots of money or where they are in absolute power. People have the capacity to hate all kinds of jobs.
This is my “it all” and I have it.
I have an amazing husband who is a real partner. He splits the work of home and child care with me as dictated by necessity (whoever is working the shorter hours for that day works more at home). He makes way for and encourages my ambitions and is not shy or passive aggressive about asserting when he needs me to make way for his ambitions. This is done very carefully, but it works for us. We have an amazing 3 year old son who is caring and affectionate, but also stubborn and a real control freak in progress. We try to make way for it, but we aren’t perfect and neither is he. I have a job that I love, though promotions can’t come fast enough and there is often travel that is required. I love it, though, and I believe in it, even if it isn’t what anyone would call lucrative. There is a mandatory minimum standard of clean in our house before we go to bed. We work hard to keep this. Laundry is usually piled up four or five loads high before they are folded. Dishes sometimes stay in the sink over night or longer. We don’t always make dinner at home because we hate dishes. That is my having it all. A medium but lovable job, an amazing husband, a great son, and a nice but never perfect home. The most important thing is ending the day with the feeling that I did everything in my power to balance peace among the pull of each of these things.