So I'll Never Be in That Corner Office...
This past week has been all abuzz over Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Women Can’t Have It All” piece.
There are so many things wrong with this thought process I can’t even begin to wrap my head around it. There are so many points to this ideology that I detest.
The fact that this piece was written with only women in mind is interesting to me as I witness my own husband missing time away from his boys, working long hours, and potentially stalling his career advancement with every request to spend time with his family. It is true that he is the main provider, as I freelance mainly from home and provide as much as any given job that might come along offers, but to think that it is only women who can’t have both career and family is a very narrow view of how many families function today.
As a woman, and a mother, I am fully aware of the personal struggles we have to overcome to be considered, but as a wife and partner, I won’t deny that my husband has his share of the same.
The other issue I take with this is the false promise that committing yourself 100% to any one job and sacrificing your personal life and family is a guarantee that you will reach the top – as a woman or a man. I have written already about how Americans Live to Work…and How That Fails Us as a society and articles like Slaughter’s only serve to further encourage this senseless need to sacrifice personal time in the hopes of professional reward reserved for very few.
Maybe our biggest problem as a society is that we are lamenting the wrong things. Maybe the problem is not that we can’t have it all – but that we put too much focus on what this “all” is. It could be that what we need to do is redefine success.
The problem is not in that we have to sacrifice so much to get to the top, but rather that getting to the top matters so damn much.
That we raise our children believing that the only time they can ever claim to have achieved anything of value is when they’ve attained that prestigious Ivy League degree, or secured the corned office with the fancy title and high paying salary or that we teach our children that success is in the things we can afford to buy and things we claim to own – this is our biggest mistake.
I have found that the less stuff I own, the closer to having it all I am. I have found that in aiming to make less money, and learn to live well within those means, the closer to a more fulfilling life we all are as a family.
We are redefining success for our children. We are doing so because after the degrees and MBAs, after the promotions and high job titles and hefty salaries, we have realized that though it has afforded us comforts, it has also managed to rob of us things much more important – whether it be with our children or within ourselves. We won’t do that to our children. We know society will judge and label, but we are working hard to show our children that success and happiness is defined in different ways.
Our success isn’t shaping out to look like anything society has defined it to be: you won’t see us living in a huge, expensive house, or driving a nice car. You will probably never see me dressed in the latest fashion or flashing the latest trends.
Chances are, I will never be in that corner office, with the huge title. And it will have nothing to do with the fact that I am a woman, or a mother.
You will never hear me refer to my choices as “sacrifices”.
But what you will see is someone who is firmly committed to living life to the fullest and being happy in the process, while guiding her children to do the same.
Slaughter’s problem isn’t that she couldn’t have it all, but rather that what she does have isn’t enough to make her happy and there is no paycheck big enough to buy her that.