Monday, June 6, 2011

Have it all?

I may have applied for a job. (ok, so I totally did apply for a job, but the reality of it is a little overwhelming right now)

It's a part time position doing something that is incredibly interesting to me and I kind of really hope I get it.

I'm also incredibly scared.

Since I've sent in my application, I've found myself thinking about what would happen if I got the job... Could I actually have it all?

That term gets tossed around a lot in mommy-land...the notion that not only can you have a perfectly organized and awesome home life, but you can also land your dream job and make it all work.

That notion feels like something somebody sells you in a late night infomercial by a man in a heavily patterned sweater and Aussie accent.

And really...doesn't it seem like TV perpetuates that notion all the time?

Meaning...the pitch is always way more impressive than the actual thing being sold. I mean really: Snuggies? Pajama Jeans? The Quick Chop? Okay, maybe the Clapper...

But the reality seems to be that it's not actually that easy to achieve. After all, wasn't that the whole crux of the supposed mommy wars? When career moms and stay-at-home moms started "battling it out," it made the notion that you could "have it all" that much more unattainable.

Loving the fishnets on the career mom. 

I'll be honest, I'm not so sure who started this supposed war, but I have a feeling it wasn't actually a pair of moms who faced off against each other. They were probably too busy cleaning the house, watching the kids, running errands and/or working.

Yet, I would also be naive to not realize the very real way this affects women who have children. Regardless of whether or not you buy into the whole concept of "The Mommy Wars" - it still exists and is pervasive enough in our culture that just the thought of applying for a part time job sets my head spinning.

Wow. Those kids look scared.

I'm sure I don't speak just for myself when I say that many of us feel pulled in both directions. Whether it's because we gave up careers before becoming stay-at-home parents, or because we now find ourselves at a job while somebody else watches our babies. There doesn't seem to be a perfect answer...that magical "have it all" notion wrapped up all informercial pretty like.

The more I've thought about all of this, the more I've started to wish that people would think in different terms. Instead of competing and comparing, isn't there a way we can find value in what we do, regardless of the choice?

One aspect I love about feminism and the women's rights movement is the fact that we fought for the right to choose. Betty Friedan vented about her frustrations with being stuck in the home in 1963, because back then there was much less of a choice revolving around what was expected of women. (And I should clarify, that while that feeling was probably shared with many across the country, Betty Friedan really spoke about/to white, married women with children in middle to upper class communities).

Thanks to Friedan and others like her, more women felt comfortable making the choice to join the workforce in addition to having families. And...some women felt comfortable (and validated) making the choice to stay home.

The fact that a war between women eventually developed over this freedom of choice continues to baffle me. Instead of judging the other, why can't we celebrate the face that we can actually make the choice?

Maybe I'm feeling defensive about it because I'm flirting with straddling the line...working part time outside the home while still being a part time SAHM. Maybe my fear is that while trying to do both (because I want to, not because I think I'm supermom or anything!) something will end up suffering.

Or...Maybe I'm just over thinking it all.

What do you think?


Rachel said...

I know you've heard my rant on this topic before, but for me, as a SAHM, it helps IMMENSELY to view what I do all day as "work." I don't get bathroom breaks or a lunch hour or a paycheck, but goddamn, it's WORK, what I do. When The Jillian's arrival was imminent, we did the math and with my diminished earning power (due to the fact that I am not-quite-college "educated" and a woman), it would have cost us money for me to continue working, so I didn't/don't. Now that we are entering the School Years, that may change, and I think that's scary to me because not only will I have a job where people expect me to do stuff in order to get a paycheck, I will STILL have all the crap AT HOME that I have to do, as well.

Granted, I have outsourced the major cleaning, but I still have laundry to do and dishes to wash and meals to plan, shop for, prepare, and clean up... etc. You know the list. ALL of those things would still be expected of me.

Sure, The Husband would have to pitch in more than he does now, but because I wouldn't be working anywhere near the 60+ hours a week that he does, the bulk of the household errands will still fall to me. So that's why I am putting off getting a "real" job for as long as possible. It would be nice to have more money, but only having to answer to my family is a nice trade-off.

A. Mama said...

Yeah...that's one of my fears in straddling the line - that while I'll be taking on hours outside the home, I'll still have all the at home responsibilities as well.

For me, though, (and I know I am in a very fortunate position to even have this choice) it was more about stumbling across this job and having an "ah ha!" moment of "I'd really be interested in doing that." So then the question becomes - can I "sacrifice" life as we know it now for that.

I also had an interesting convo with the bff yesterday since she is planning on child #2, but is also trying to figure out how to work her own career into the mix and ended up thinking it might need to get put on hold for almost 5 more years. It's choices like those that make the "mommy wars" much more than catch phrases and cute idioms, you know?