A note from the Editor: While Red Tricycle mama Allison Ellis can only dream of having it all (hey, we’re all allowed to dream of George Clooney, right?), apparently some women can indeed have it all. Take Marissa Mayer, the former Google exec turned CEO of Yahoo, who not only hit headlines for her new role, but also for the fact that she’s pregnant and due in October. Apparently, nothing is standing in Marissa’s way from having a fulfilling career, family, and personal life. What’s the secret, Marissa? Are you really super woman?
Ever since the Atlantic Monthly posted Anne-Marie Slaughter’s July cover story, Why Women Still Can’t Have it All, I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with women (or anyone) I know that “has it all.” Hmm . . . let’s see: How about her? Well . . . almost, not quite. Those two? Nope. Totally faking it. What about . . . oh jeez, definitely no.
“Having it all” is an elusive concept, don’t you think? A moving target. I mean, what does “it” even mean? I don’t even know. But if I did – here is how I would have “it” my way: I’m married to George Clooney. He’s hot and superrich – and makes a difference in the world and all that good stuff – but he’s not quite as successful and influential as I am at my really high profile powerhouse of a job where I only work from 10:00am – 2:30pm every day, except for Fridays and Mondays. Georgy is a great dad, and everything about our partnership is 100% equal – split straight down the middle, no eye rolling or anything. Together we have 2.5 perfectly healthy and gorgeous offspring who sleep through the night and spend their days frolicking in our organic backyard farm/garden/waterfront compound that is located just steps from downtown near all the best restaurants. Our kids shun their delicate eyes from any form of electronics and instead read Newbery winners for entertainment, that is, when they aren’t penning their own award-winning titles.
My job as CEO/bestselling author/fashion model/global warming expert is stimulating and challenging (yet never draining) and even though I rarely need to brush my hair or get out of my pajamas (thanks to my state-of-the art home office and avatars who do everything). I’m frequently seen on TV as an expert and go-to person who always has the most sought-after ideas. Did I also mention that I have a cooking show and I’m starting my own cable network soon? Ahhh, the life. I’m so busy! And yet, sometimes, you know, I feel like something is missing. Like maybe I’m not doing enough.
Ms. Slaughter loosely defines “having it all” as being both a mom and a top professional. Piece of cake! I can be a top professional too – isn’t that called getting my kids to school on time and making sure they stay out of juvy? Slaughter is a role model – let’s take a look at what she’s up to now that she downsized her career and quit working for Hil so she could spend more quality time with her academic superstar of a husband and two teenage sons: “I teach a full course load; write regular print and online columns on foreign policy; give 40 to 50 speeches a year; appear regularly on TV and radio; and am working on a new academic book.” Oh, and she also writes timely and thought-provoking cover stories for the Atlantic Monthly. I like this gal, really, I do, but she makes me feel like an underachiever.
Maybe you’re the type of mom who let out a huge sigh of relief after reading Slaughter’s article (finally, someone who gets it!). Or maybe you got angry (this whole work-life balance thing is a load of BS and we need to change it, stat!). Or competitive (cool, one more down – more glass ceiling for me!) Or any other type of emotion appropriate for us parents of a certain post-modern age. Me? I’m rooting around in search of a paper bag I can breath into so I can make sense of it all.
Don’t get me wrong: It’s not like I don’t find the issues interesting or worthy of discussion. This is the kind of stuff that is fodder for social and economic change – meaty issues I’d like to gobble up more often. If I weren’t so tired. And working so hard already. The never-ending cycle of work-life balance controversy and mommy wars debates simply wears me out. Hearing about women who “have it all” or who are even trying to “have it all” sounds like there’s a scorecard – and if we don’t play the game, not only will the Slaughters and Sandbergs of the world wave a scolding finger at us, but so will the Steinems, Friedans and Cady Stantons who came before us.
So I give up! I’m waving a fistful of baby wipes from Costco as my surrender flag. For the love of judgmental parents across the country, can’t we all lighten up a little?
What do you think – what’s “it” going to take to solve this issue once and for all? More baby wipes, more Clooney, more . . .?
–Allison Ellis (reporting live from under a mossy covered rock in Seattle where she juggles two kids and one freelance writing career).
Editor’s note: This tongue-in-cheek opinion piece is the first in a series of humor essays in a new parenting column for Red Tricycle called “Off The Handlebars.” Love it? Hate it? Let us know what you think.photo courtesy of Chip Simons