I am writing this blog from an airplane 38,000 feet above the ground. I left my house at 4:45 am to make a 6:00 am flight to the west coast for a business meeting. As usual, I am exhausted and overwhelmed but also excited to present my thinking to a potential client and hopefully win some new business for the agency. It really is just like any other business trip.
You see, today as I write this blog from an airplane 38,000 feet above the ground, my daughter is preparing for her first day of school. I will miss it. I will not be there to get her on the bus. I will not be there to pick her up and hear all about her new teacher or who is in her class. If she wants braids in her hair, she will have to go without because I won’t be there to put them in (and I don’t think dad knows how, although I may be wrong). I will not be there to hold her hand, kiss her goodbye, and wish her luck.
I have known this trip was coming for a couple weeks and have done my fair share of pouting and complaining about it. The situation has made me rethink this entire concept of women being able to “have it all” and made me curse the feminists who paved the way for my generation and made us think that we could have fulfilling, lucrative jobs that we love as well as a family. It’s too exhausting and painful to do both.
As I stomped around my room last night, packing my things bitterly, a voice in my head suddenly emerged and told me to GET A GRIP. Scared that this voice may be Satan – or worse multiple personality disorder -- I forced myself to stop, breathe and reflect.
I asked myself the following questions:
*What is “Having it All” Anyway? Before we can accurately determine if it is realistic to “have it all”, we must first know what that means. Does “having it all” mean that we have everything we want all the time and never have to make sacrifices that we don’t like? I mean, should anybody really have it all? The more I think about it, the more I think we all need to stop throwing around the phrase because “having it all” is implying something that is just unrealistic.
*Isn’t Life (and Work) About Compromise?
I have flexibility at my job to get my work done in a way that works for me and my family. I have worked hard to earn that trust and I rarely miss a soccer game or a school play even if that means sitting back down at the computer once my family has gone to sleep. However, flexibility needs to be a mutual thing if employers are going to continue to become more flexible for their people. Being a working mom means once in a while there will be late nights or business trips. I can’t ask people to work around my life and not be willing to work around their needs. It is a give and take.
*Who is this Really about?
Charlotte and I had a discussion two weeks ago about the fact that I would not be there on her first day. Together we discussed what she wanted for breakfast and in her lunch the first day. We chose her outfits for the first week and laid them out together. We packed up all her supplies in her backpack. She is ready and she will be fine. This is about my need to feel perfect and my own inadequacies which is just silly.
In the end I was able to get it together and put things in perspective. As for “having it all,” I think that might mean something different for each of us on any given day. So today, I will “have it all” if I have a successful business meeting and a happy second grader.
Something tells me I will have both