After having a day or so to think about it, and then reading the article that the discussion was about (you can read it here: Why Women Still Can’t Have It All), I’ve received a bit of feedback.
I want to say that I think the writer makes a lot of good points. Especially to women like me who thought she could do things in a certain order and that it would be fine. I figured I could have it all, just one thing at a time. Children, then education, then career. I just didn’t realize that people in positions to hire me would see me as a lazy slob who has done nothing with her life.
Never mind that I successfully raised girls without dropping out of school who are productive members of society.
Never mind that I went back to college and graduated while I had children at home as a single mom. I even have a Masters degree.
Never mind that I am a hard worker who never gives up. I always find a way to earn the money I need, even when I can’t find a traditional job I have started my own business and pay my bills via that business. Each year my work at home income goes up by 12 to 15 percent.
Never mind that I would be a great asset to anyone who hired me, respected me, and let me use my skills.
Parenthood is not a job skill-set
I really did believe I could take jobs on to earn extra money, whenever I wanted to, then quit whenever I wanted to, since my main priority in life was raising my daughters. I was completely oblivious to the idea that my resume would forever be a record of my working life. I bought the idea that you can re-frame your resume based on each job. I didn’t realize that we’d someday have these crazy online applications that make you put in every single last job you’ve ever had, even if its not relevant. Electronic systems that throw out your application if it’s not perfect.
I just did not even think about how my resume looks to others. I believed mothering was more important. I still do. Honestly, at this point sometimes I think that I would have been better off never having gone to school, never having had a business, and perhaps then I could get one of those fast-food jobs.
The truth will set you free
It’s good for younger women to hear the truth. And the writer says the truth, which isn’t exactly what the headline says.
Women can’t have it all, not because they really can’t, but because they don’t want to.
In general, women don’t want to give up time with their kids. In general, women are the ones who deal with sick children, car pool, and a myriad of other child issues, more than men. Why? Because many women are single parents. And, because it’s what our current society expects.
Yes, I too hear the stories of great fathers who are equal. But, I’ve never actually met one in person. I hear about them. I even hear friends of mine praise their husbands for being that way, when they’re not really. We do that to avoid fights with our spouses, honestly. In our society the fact is that most women are expected to be the nurturers and men are expected to be the bread winners. We praise men who take on parenting rolls even 30 percent of the time, where as women we penalize harshly for not wanting to, or even for wanting to and thus blaming them for ruining their careers. I have to wonder how many women would still be married if we stopped letting men get away with this.
We can fix this for future generations.
For starters, if you’re lucky enough to have a spouse, and that spouse isn’t helping out equally, well, it’s time you demand that they do if you want to succeed in a high powered career. Hell, if you want to keep a crappy job because you need it to pay your bills, then you need your spouse to help with that too. We have to place a high importance on child care and home care. We have to make men see its importance, as well as other women see the importance of making men stand up. We have to stop giving them an out.
I used to be a director for a preschool, just for a year. It was amazing to me to watch the working women who picked up their kids. Yes, 99 percent of the time it was women dropping off and picking up kids. Most of these women happened to be married. It was an expensive private preschool.
On rare occasions when the wives went on a trip and the man had to pick up the kids, that’s when they were often late there and late picking them up too! I was shocked to see infants as young as six weeks in childcare from open to close so that women could work who had husbands making six figures. I tried not to be judgmental, but I admit I couldn’t understand it.
I even witnessed a case where the woman worked, but the man was unemployed but the children still went to childcare….. but if the woman lost her job, she quit the child care. Of course, I did meet my share of single dads, dads who were doing it all. But, it was interesting watching how the teachers treated the single dad compared to the single moms or the married moms. Everyone bent over backwards to help the single dads. No one helps single moms or moms.
As a mostly single mom ( I say mostly because even when I was married to the father he was gone due to being military), I was used to doing it all myself. After I started that job, which was the first time in my life where I HAD to work to make ends meet, I realized how hard it would be to keep doing it. I had children who needed rides to school, our town had a terrible school bus system that did not pick up at our apartments.I had zero help as the father was in another country.
The job was overwhelming because I could not ever just leave. Even if my child hurt herself, I could not leave. I realized pretty fast that I needed a different job as a single mom. I tried really hard to keep it. I actually liked that job a lot. I loved the work, the kids, the staff. Everything about it, although it’s a low paying career choice. I paid someone to drive my daughter to and from school, and to deal with emergencies, but it cost a lot on my salary. I made $910 dollars twice a month. Yea, for about 70 hours a week of work. Yay me!
Plus the toll on my emotions or my child’s emotions was not worth it either. I finally quit. I went back to working from home like I have done for ever, because even though I put my kids first, I’m still career minded. I still love to earn money, and I will find a way to do that, even from home.
Yes, our society sucks. They don’t pay women the same as men for the same job. Jobs that are traditionally filled by women women pay lousy too. (Like childcare) They don’t value our contribution to child rearing, and it’s really hard, if not impossible to start over at midlife after the kids leave the nest, no matter how much education you have. Did I mention that I have a Masters degree?
But, if you have a husband, who also has a great career, and you have a great job that pays you well, you’re a lucky minority. You have actual choices. Don’t mess it up. But if you do choose to “mess it up” by putting your family first, accept the fact that you’re ruining your career. That you probably won’t make it through that glass ceiling. But, like most women, especially women of means who have high powered high earning husbands too, you have that choice. Personally, I’ll be honest, and maybe sound judgmental, I don’t get it when a parent chooses career over children if it’s not a monetary imperative.
We can fix this problem
I have a little theory that if we women made men live up to their 50 percent responsibility on child care, things would change real quick. We’d see more family leave laws, more flexible work schedules, more understanding of managers when interviewing former stay at home moms for good jobs. So for me, the key is not really in telling women why they can’t have it all, we already know — but telling women to stop letting men have it all without consequences. Once we put men where we are, things will change drastically and it will change fast.
The question though is can we as women do that? I’m not sure I can. I like taking care of my kids. If I had more kids today, I’d want to do it the same way. I would still want to be a stay at home mom with the lions share of the responsibility. I just would.
It may not really be too late for me
My children are grown and out on their own, and I am remarried to an awesome husband who I do believe would help me out equally in child rearing. The only reason I’m not in a box is because of him. Well, okay also because I make a living working from home too. I should be satisfied with that, but I’m having a real hard time getting out of my head my dream before I went back to college in 1999.
My dream was to get my degree and work at a community college or university in an administrative capacity. To continue my education and possibly teach part time. Hardly the stuff of glass ceilings. Because of that, it may not be too late for me. I might yet find one of those jobs. I will keep applying and see what happens. I’m not asking to break the glass ceiling, I’m simply asking for a decent job in a place that I like where I can shine for the next 20 or so years of working life.
In the meantime I’ll keep running my business.