by Heather K. Terry | Featured Contributor
A morning news program I recently watched featured an interesting discussion about comments made by a high-powered female executive regarding balance of career and motherhood. This woman is the CEO of one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and she was so bold as to suggest that women just can’t have it all.
I was choking on my cereal at this point because to say that women can’t have it all is absolute bullshit. It just depends on your definition of having it all.
As a woman in the workforce who has children, if your having it all is to be a successful executive who is also there for your children, why is that such a stretch?
If your having it all is to be a Mom first and foremost and to work reduced hours until the kids are in school, why is that unattainable?
I think we are striving to be the types of mothers that our mothers were, but we simply don’t live in that world. Things are much different for us than they were for our mothers. For one thing, the workday no longer ends by punching out at 5 o’clock. It’s more often expected to be available while at home with today’s technology—something our mothers didn’t have to worry about.
Mom was my primary caregiver. She took care of the house, fed me, and worked all at the same time. It was assumed by my parents that she would fill the role of caretaker and homemaker and that she had to make that work around what she did to earn money. It is easy to feel like you’re not doing the mother role justice when your model was some sort of martyr.
Today, we are much more communicative with our partners. It isn’t always assumed that the child rearing is going to fall solely on mom’s shoulders.
I am generalizing here, but in many cases when a baby is born to parents who both have careers, there’s a discussion about how that new life will be integrated into the existing family dynamic.
In my case, my husband’s career isn’t as flexible as mine, so we have agreed on what compromises have to be made to work around our daughter since I don’t want to be 100% at home or 100% at work.
My having it all is the ability to be a good mom and a successful executive. My having it all means that I work from home as much as I possibly can so that I can be with my baby and to see that smile as much as possible. I often have to be able to run to a meeting at a minute’s notice so I have childcare in place just in case. My daughter is the most important thing in the world to me but that doesn’t mean my business isn’t also a priority.
In order for me to have it all, I must constantly talk to my husband about how we’ll continue to fit my work around our daughter and how he can help support my vision. I have to communicate with my business partner and other key persons in my company about the flexibility I need in order to work around my home life.
We all need to start working towards fulfilling our own vision of what we want our lives as mothers to look like because, you know what? We only get one shot at this.
The good news is that employers are becoming quite progressive. (Most will entertain the idea of mothers working from home because they know that if you give a mother 3 hours of focused time to work on something, she will do the work of multiple people!)
If your current scenario isn’t working for you, stop sitting around feeling guilty and change it!
What do you have to lose if you go to your employer and propose a solution that could help you to have it all? Ask if you could work from home a day or two a week, or even half days for the summer. Maybe your boss would be open to you bringing your baby to work 1-2 days a week—you never know!
If you can’t fit your life around your baby and that’s your having it all, you will be miserable until you sort something out.
I have seen women make a ton of different scenarios work to fit their situation. Some take the kids to work with them, some hire a nanny, and some leave work all together. There is no shame in any of those solutions.
To suggest that women can’t have it all is just completely untrue. What is true is that every woman has a different concept of what “all” is, and it is this “all” that is attainable.
It all comes down to getting good and clear on how you want to live your life and what you need to do to have it all.
I challenge you to figure out where your happiness lies and to find a way to honor that. You only have one life. Live it well.
Celebrated health coach, cooking instructor, yogi, and writer, Heather K. Terry, is a true health aficionado. She is co-founder and COO of NibMor Chocolate, co-founder of the Gluten Free Sugar Cleanse, and a strong advocate of eating real, simply prepared, organic foods and avoiding genetically modified, highly-processed food-like objects. A graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and The French Culinary Institute of Manhattan, Heather’s passion for food and nutrition are palpable. www.heatherkterry.com