Family Magazine

Can Women Have It All?

By Sandwichedboomers @SandwichBoomers

woman juggling fruitHere it is 50 years after “The Feminine Mystique” was published and women are still struggling with identity. Should we ‘Lean In’ and grab ambition as Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg suggests? Or let go of guilt and create a realistic work/family balance once and for all?

Is it time to reignite the smoldering women’s revolution? Probably not. Here I stand, looking back on 35 years of trying to do it all, realizing that these conversations will likely continue way past my lifetime. You see, there are no easy answers.

Remember when cavemen left to hunt and women tended the hearth? Women are hard wired to take care of others and thrive in community. Early learning and hormones perpetuate these attitudes and behaviors.

It helps if we’re raised in a family that provides a firm foundation and encourages positive self regard.  Still we have to study hard, develop curiosity, nurture a desire to win and hone our leadership skills – and then find role models to guide us.  Finally, we need to choose a partner who has a strong feminine side and isn’t afraid to take care of the kids or do laundry. But achieving the ‘perfect’ combination doesn’t happen very often and life can be incredibly complicated.

Some say we’re our own worst enemies. Of course, women do have a hard time saying ‘I deserve it.’  We credit success to hard work, luck and help from others, not our own core skills. We shouldn’t be scared of being too smart or hold back so we’ll be liked. And most of all, let’s not blame ourselves. Aren’t you already aiming high and seeking challenges?

When a new book comes out with a message for women the issue often becomes polarized, like the mommy wars. Should we give it all up for our career or chuck the career and have a rich family life? The truth, as for most issues, is somewhere in the middle. We can get what we want some of the time but not without feeling the pressure. And it’s impossible to do it all on our own. We need what men seem to have always had – a clear path, mentors, opportunities, and the facsimile of a supportive wife. Only then will we have a fighting chance to be more flexible and resilient.

Bottom line? It’s normal to feel insecure about our choices and guilty about not doing enough. And we do need trailblazers with a strong message in positions of power as mentors. But our team is also essential – supportive family and friends who will help us minimize internal and external obstacles. And this is a good model for our granddaughters, because it will likely always take a village.

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