Doing it all, Having it all, Being it all?

June 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

I was reading in one of my (too) many magazine subscriptions recently about a book written by Sarah Brokaw, entitled Fortytude. I haven’t read it (yet) but the article brought up some surprisingly thought provoking facts and ideas that have continued to bounce around my brain, making more and more sense when measured up against the day-to-day routine of myself and many other mothers I know.

Sarah Brokaw talks about how the woman’s movement simultaneously freed and trapped us. Thanks to the work of many brave women we now have options never before enjoyed by our great-grandmothers (higher education, careers, deciding if/when we want kids, etc.) however, with all these choices comes the obvious introduction of new stresses and societal pressure to do it all, have it all, and be everything. Go to university, enjoy a successful career, find a husband, have children, pull in a decent income, be a supermom, travel the world, stay fit. How in the world does one person do ALL of those things? Sarah’s book talks about the impact this is having on women and our tendency to never feel as though we are doing enough, and doing enough well.

This past weekend, I could see where Sarah was coming from. While my great-grandmother may have been changing diapers, cooking for many, washing dishes and cycling laundry, I can’t imagine that she would ALSO be hauling 14 yards of topsoil and mulch, booking reservations online for an upcoming vacation, and exercising during that same timeframe. I imagine you’re probably groaning with the similarities to your own juggling act, are you not? And I’m a stay-at-home mom – I can’t imagine doing all that while simultaneously managing a career path for myself. Yeah, Sarah, I think I get what you’re drivin’ at.

It’s what Sarah refers to as the dark side of women’s lib: “Societal expectations about what we, as modern women, ought to be, do and have in order to deem ourselves ‘good enough’ have only become more complicated in the past few decades…We can get caught up in thinking that we have to accomplish a great deal in life in order to be worthy people”.  I read “societal expectations” but I feel like it’s more about us letting that be the pressure we put on ourselves.  I see what other moms are achieving and my first inclination is often to benchmark myself: “do I do that too?”.  I often will catch myself and decide that I will feel happy for and silently applaud that mom who is enjoying success in her life.  

Sarah encourages us to live by, and continuously visit, two thoughts: What matters most to me? Am I following my heart?  She pushes us to focus on the areas in which we feel a “sense of mastery”. Forget society, forget benchmarks, and now let’s get back to doing what makes us feel good about ourselves.

And don’t forget to applaud yourself, for enjoying the success in your life!

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§ One Response to Doing it all, Having it all, Being it all?

  • mom says:

    I cannot help but feel I contributed to your “do it all” life by my example. Even tho’ I am a generation before you, we were faced withe same choices and difficult decisions. Doing my degrees while I had children still at home generated a lot of guilt. I wanted this for me but was I a good parent for doing so? Chasing after career opportunities while parenting takes a lot of energy. Did you suffer as a child from my ambitions? Unfortunately my generation did not produce husbands that wanted to share the household duties so that added to the stress of it all. Looking back on my very busy life as a mother, working parent and wife as well as a contributing member of society, I do not regret one minute. I Cherished the moments we had as a family both at home and on vacations that I also planned. I did it all and am a better person for it!

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