Chances are, you’ve heard it throughout your life. “You can have it all.” “Women can do it all.” “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan…”
And the thing about this myth, is that we want it to be true. We know we’re smart enough to have it all, we know we’re capable of doing everything needed to have it all, and well, we want it all.
And the real reason, I believe, that the myth caught on like wild fire, is because we know we can do it all if we want to. I know I tried. I wanted to be the Martha Stewart mother, making cookies, decorating my home, making sure my kids have perfect meals, they look great all the time, and be a senior executive.
Long story short, we can do it all, but it’s exhausting. For me, I chose not to do it all. It’s not possible for me to be in an annual strategy meeting until 6:30 PM and be home to make a meal for my kids, help them with their homework and get them in bed by 9:00 PM. Now, if someone could invent a time-bending machine, that would be amazing.
But until then, there are shortcuts, right? I mean, I could order dinner from a local restaurant, I could work on homework over the phone on the commute home. I could spend all day Sunday making all the meals for the week ahead. But do I actually want that? Do I want my days to be like that, day in and day out?
This is what I believe has been lost in the shuffle here. We don’t take the time to ask ourselves what we really want any more. I mean, who has the time for that? We’re all too busy trying to have it all to stop and see if we even want it!
Instead of being a blessing, and something to strive for, the idea of this myth has shifted. We don’t feel free to get out there and “have it all.” Instead, we feel pressure to make sure we’re “having it all.” We have to do it all perfectly, with a smile, and we need to look really good while we do it. Many women feel that we’ve lost the choice, the option of doing what we want, and once again, as women, we’re being told by outside sources what is expected of us.
We’ve taken on the myth like a mantle, and some have even turned on our fellow women who don’t “do it all” in the same way. The media has loved this angle – every talk show and news organization has had a segment (or five) on “The Mommy Wars.” We’ve been told we’re not doing enough (Lean In anyone?), we’re not doing it right, or that the grass is always greener.
I don’t want to sound hyperbolic here, but as women, we’ve always been told what our place is. We’ve always had expectations put upon us by “the powers that be” in society. And we’ve always pushed against it, subtly and not-so-subtly, throughout history. But this current wave of feminism seems much more gentle and, well, much more feminine.
It’s a beautiful thing to see us take a step back, tell the truth about what we’re experiencing and taking on new business, family life and friends in a completely different way.
For 2014 and beyond, I would love to see us take the time to truly figure out what we love, what we want. This doesn’t mean we can fix it all in 20 minutes, or even one month. But the exercise of asking ourselves what we want to do, and why we want to do it, is so important.
And I believe it’s our key to truly having it all, in a way that works for us. It’s time for each of us to grant ourselves permission to find our own Better Way.
Sarah Walton is co-founder and CEO of www.betterwaymoms.com, which was founded on Mother’s Day in 2009. Before Better Way Moms, she spent her 15-year career in small start-ups and large corporations in Technical Project Management. He has worked for Lifetimetv.com, iVillage.com, iAmplifly.com and Mindspark. She has a seven-year-old boy and four-year-old girl. After having her second child, she knew it was time to put her skills towards supporting other women through workshops, speaking engagements and retreats. Sarah, along with her husband and kids, live in New Jersey.
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