You know that sign on the all-you-can-eat buffet that says, "Take what you want, but eat what you take." Why can't life be more like that? I'm tired of being told I can have it all and judged because I don't want it. I'm tired of other women looking at what I've chosen to put on my life's plate and telling me I've made the wrong choices. And to be honest, I am kind of tired of glancing over at your plate, too.
Seeking solutions for working women
I just read the cover story by Anne-Marie Slaughter from "The Atlantic" magazine entitled, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." It's an excellent article written from the point of view of a mother who had the chance to work her dream job in Washington, DC and came to the realization that without a flexible schedule, she really couldn't have it all. She chose to put some back, to let go of her dream job and go back to the position she'd held before, which gave her the flexibility to spend more time with her family. In Slaughter's own words, "Deep down, I wanted to go home."
What is most striking about Slaughter's article, to me, is that she offers suggestions such as using technology to increase job flexibility not just for mothers, but for everyone. There are definitely changes that could be made across most industries and professions that would allow employees to work more flexible hours and in more convenient locations. I know it can work well, too, because my husband spent a couple of years working happily in a job that allowed him to telecommute part of the time.
It's okay not to want it all
It's just too bad that all women can't acknowledge that it is okay not to want it all. Another article from "The Atlantic" earlier this month berated women who choose to stay home and raise their families. Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote, "Being a mother isn't a real job," and "If you can't pay your own rent, you are not an adult."
Wurtzel's rant reminded me of the much publicized comment by Hilary Rosen on CNN. She said that Ann Romney "never worked a day in her life." That comment sparked a firestorm of debate and ended in an apology from Rosen, but the sentiment was out there.
Not that Wurtzel or Rosen care about my opinion, but I definitely consider being a full-time parent a real job. As a homeschooling mom, I have had the extra job of providing a rich and diverse individualized education to my kids for the last few years. I worked as a biologist before leaving the field to raise my family, and I can say without a doubt that going to work outside the home was easier for me than what I do now.
Eyes on your own plate, please
I could have kept my career. I could have put my kids in daycare and later sent them to conventional school so that I could continue working. But their early years would have been spent largely with a rotating slate of caregivers and their primary education would have likely suffered. All the time, I would have been waking up before dawn and going to bed at midnight just to keep up with all the demands, just like the professional women in Slaughter's article.
And for what? More money? Social responsibility? No thanks.
I don't want that kind of life. I took what I wanted from life's buffet, and I am enjoying it immensely. I work part time as a freelance writer, I homeschool my kids, I take care of our home and I do battle with household chores that I really wish I could put back. I have all I care to handle on my plate right now, and I am happy. I just wish women like Wurtzel and Rosen would keep their eyes on their own plates and leave me alone.
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