“Having It All” and Missing So Much
Do you ever feel like you are adding to your to-do list faster than you’re crossing things off and then end up with very little time to yourself? Ever feel like your career actually fulfills you, but that you’re still missing out on so much? Or better, are you frustrated with your job, and still feel somewhat absent in your kids’ life?
The media icon for the woman living in the 1950’s was a domesticated housewife and mother who cooked, laundered, cleaned and sewed all the while looking fashionable with that big smile on her face. Fast forward to today. The media icon today in an entirely different woman. What do see in the latest Glamour and Vogues magazines? You see a tall confident woman, designer clothes, wearing her role as a career woman, mother, wife and domestic goddess, with that “I can have it all” look to her. So what’s the difference between then and now? While both may be illusions of perfection, the real career woman today is mostly exhausted, completely overwhelmed with the second shift at home, and struggling with guilt and stress.
And while many working women today feel very fulfilled in their career, many are not. But the one commonality between the happily working moms and the unhappily working moms, is the feeling that they feel they are simply missing out. I spoke to a bunch of working moms, and these were some of their complaints about balancing home and career:
“You miss things as a working mom. If you have an 8-6 job like me, with little flexibility, you simply cannot be everywhere, and I have missed out on much.The list is too long”
“I work to help pay for some of the bills in our house. And while I enjoy my career as a real estate agent, I feel like I am missing out on a lot. If school gives me enough warning, I can make ballet recitals and basketball games, but otherwise, I miss out. My parents help out with some extra curricular activities and thank goodness for my mom who can take my kids to many of their programs. But sometimes, I wish it was me more often.”
“I miss going for lunch with my girlfriends. And the gym has become a thing of the past. I have neither the energy nor the time to go to the gym anymore.”
“How do I feel about working? I could use a foot massage, a romantic evening with my husband, and Mary Poppins to clean my house! To those lucky women sipping lattes and strolling downtown with their friends, you have it good.”
“I cry every time I think of my 1 year old in daycare when I should be home with her. I am working out of necessity, not out of choice. If I won the lottery, I’d be out of here!”
Sound familiar? Perhaps.
We all have different situations at home, but it’s true, many working women feel they are simply missing out on too much. The number of women leaving the workforce to start flexible, home-based businesses has risen dramatically in recent years, in part due to these tremendous feelings of guilt and lack of time. I say it’s the fine balance between necessity and priority. When I was working my insane hours, I was constantly conflicted when I left my little one at home to go to work. If I left and he was fine and happy that morning, it upset me that he was bonding more with my nanny than with me. If I left and he was crying and she would have to peel him off of me, that would kill me too. It was like a lose-lose situation. But these are the facts, and I wasn’t alone. A poll showed that 68% of working moms are conflicted between working and raising a family (CBS Poll).
And even recently, those old feelings of guilt have started to resurface for. Juggling the book writing and editing, the launching of the new site, and Blogging at times has taken me away from the boys. Not nearly as much as before, which is why this is the perfect balance for me, but it definitely has. And thankfully, I have incredible support from two sets of grandparents and a loving husband, but I’m starting to feel the exhaustion set in again and the “me” slip. I’m not complaining, as this is what i signed up for, and this is what completely inspires me, but as women, we still have that responsibility of “the second shift” at home, and it’s a lot.
Listen, there are also women I know who don’t work and still don’t spend a lot time with their kids either. No judgement. I think we all have to do what works for us. And to also make the best out of any situation. If you’re working, and feel like you’re missing out on too much, you may have to re-adjust your priorities. You may opt to drop one work day a week (and that day’s pay) if you feel the pressure to be everywhere is just too great. The beauty in life is everything is a choice. And that choice is entirely your own, and can be changed at any given moment in time.
So to all the working moms out there, tell us, what do you fee like you’re missing out on? How would you like your life to look in a perfect world?