We Can’t Have it All

Sounds rather defeatist, doesn’t it? Of course, we have to ask ourselves:

1.  Do we want it all?

2.  What is the “all” people refer to?

Former Washington director of policy planning at the State Department, Anne-Marie Slaughter, recently wrote an article entitled Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.

A firm believer of women achieving all they hope to have, she was surprised to find that while in Washington, it was a real challenge to do her best in her career and her best as a wife and mother.

At the end of her two year commitment she quickly went home and although continues to have a vibrant career and successful home life, it no longer includes being a voice in Washington.

She was surprised by the two opinions she heard once she left Washington.  

I routinely got reactions from other women my age or older that ranged from disappointed (“It’s such a pity that you had to leave Washington”) to condescending (“I wouldn’t generalize from your experience. I’ve never had to compromise, and my kids turned out great”).

The first set of reactions, with the underlying assumption that my choice was somehow sad or unfortunate, was irksome enough. But it was the second set of reactions—those implying that my parenting and/or my commitment to my profession were somehow substandard—that triggered a blind fury.

As Purposeful Women trying to create the life we desire, it is the unrealistic expectations, or the expectations of others that keep us from staying on the path to our best life. The “shoulds” and the guilt that others lay at our door can derail us from our direction.

I encourage you to read the entire story by Anne-Marie Slaughter as she thoroughly discusses this challenge business women face in our desire to be all to everyone in all aspects of our life.

She ends her article by saying:

We may need to put a woman in the White House before we are able to change the conditions of the women working at Walmart. But when we do, we will stop talking about whether women can have it all. We will properly focus on how we can help all Americans have healthy, happy, productive lives, valuing the people they love as much as the success they seek.

Great words to consider and a great challenge to undertake.