Can women have it all? Last week, The Atlantic explored a subject that is still quite controversial even in our modern age. The writer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, explains her personal situation of leaving a high-power government career in D.C. to cater to the needs of her two teenaged sons and husband in New Jersey. Her point of view sparked a national debate — can women have it all? Could they ever? And the do the women who say they have it all do so because their partner is flexible enough to take on the roles of heading the family (or a higher income, etc.)?
She goes on to write, “I’d been the woman congratulating herself on her unswerving commitment to the feminist cause, chatting smugly with her dwindling number of college or law-school friends who had reached and maintained their place on the highest rungs of their profession. I’d been the one telling young women at my lectures that you can have it all and do it all, regardless of what field you are in. Which means I’d been part, albeit unwittingly, of making millions of women feel that they are to blame if they cannot manage to rise up the ladder as fast as men and also have a family and an active home life (and be thin and beautiful to boot).”
But since then, she's changed her tune. She describes her week as having 5:30 am trains to catch and staying at the office until after hours, “which meant that everything from dry cleaning to hair appointments to Christmas shopping had to be done on weekends, amid children’s sporting events, music lessons, family meals, and conference calls.” According to her, we need some major structural changes in our society before women can really push their career to the fullest while having family time.
On the contrary, in a profile piece the New York Times published in March, designer Cynthia Rowley and her husband Bill Powers, an editor, author, and art dealer, spoke about their day-to-day as a couple. With her multiple TV gigs, design projects, and two young daughters, she makes sure to still hit every important social gathering in NYC. “As a couple you can be out and not see anything, or you can stay connected to the moment and use what you see for your work,” said Nick Cave, the Chicago-based artist. “Cynthia and Bill know what they’re doing as a creative couple and a family unit.”
“Warhol’s philosophy was ‘Do everything,’” Powers told the Times. “Us, too.”
Women not working in high-power careers certainly face similar struggles, and there are few who can juggle it all and feel comfortable.
As a blogger (and, let's be honest, mostly female) community, most of us are in business for ourselves, or are working a day job plus blogging as a side project. The beauty of blogging means we can be flexible with where we work and when we work, alleviating some of the pressures of balancing work with family life — but even so, when is it too much?
We asked a few bloggers to give us the details on their day-to-day and weigh in on things they sacrifice to juggle it all.
Rachelle Hruska MacPherson, the founder and editor-in-chief of Guest of a Guest and recent wife and mom, wrote us a description of her busy day, “Wake up: 7am. Feed Maxwell and family play time. I try to spend my mornings at home working on emails and work related stuff online while Maxwell plays next to me. I also try to get a workout in the mornings before lunch. Lunch is either food on the run or in the form of a meeting. My afternoons are pretty irregular but usually consist of either meetings, stopping into office, running errands or doing phone calls. I try to be home by 6pm to spend the next two hours with my son, feeding, bathing, bedding. We usually go to either dinner or a social obligation around 8 or 8:30 when Maxwell goes to sleep. Bedtime is between 11 and 12, and most likely preceded by Charlie Rose.”
Jordan of Ramshackle Glam, also a new mommy, told us, “The truth is that there's a lot of guilt involved – I always wish that I could be 100% focused on my son when he's awake, and then 100% focused on my work when he's otherwise occupied, but that's just one of the challenges associated with being a work-at-home mom: you constantly feel like you wish you could give more to both sides of your life. I do wish that I had more time in the evenings, so that I could get the bulk of my work done while my son is asleep, but I also feel like it's important to spend at least an hour or two of concentrated time with my husband, and that's our only opportunity to focus solely on each other, so…I guess I just wish I had 6 or 7 more hours in every day.”
She went on to say, “Something that I've sacrificed for my career and family: I guess that would be those ‘me' moments that I used to value – you know, just spending a couple of hours on the sofa with a book, or going shopping for no reason other than that I feel like it. Even if my husband takes our son out for some one-on-one time, it's hard for me to relax enough to do what really amounts to nothing – I always feel like, ‘This is my opportunity to get more work done so I can spend as much time as possible with the baby once he gets home.' It's an enormous blessing, the opportunity to work from home and watch him grow, and I wouldn't change my situation for anything, but the guilt and the constant worry that you're not doing anything quite as well as you might want to…those are definitely drawbacks.”
Rachelle agrees, citing that alone time and reading are some things she has given up for her busy schedule.
Tina Craig, founder of Bag Snob and hands on mom, wrote to us, “I don't really know how I manage to balance everything! I'm a mom, so instinctively, I take care of my son's needs first. Everything else just falls into place. I work during school hours at home and the minute I pick up my son from school, I shut my computer down until after I put him to bed. When I travel, I spend days cooking/freezing meals, coordinating carpool, tennis lessons, etc. I'm fortunate to have a husband who is very hands on and an amazing staff who help me keep it all together. It's definitely not a one woman show, having it all means surrounding yourself with people you trust to help you!”
What do you think about women having it all? Do you agree with the Atlantic's article or more with Cynthia Rowley's approach? How do YOU balance it all?