Let’s give it a rest. Silence the question, “Can women have it all?” Of course not. No one can.
The idea of “having it all” is nonsense, says Ester Levanon, the head of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, during a CNN interview.
At 65, Levanon is long past the day-to-day choices she made with her husband to have both a happy home and strong career in Israel. Closer to home, at 37, new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has the mommy journey in front of her. She and her husband are expecting their first child in October, and everybody, it seems, has an opinion about it.
Work-family choices can draw ridicule from everywhere – even from your kids, says Levanon, mother of two sons.
“They will always complain,” she says. “If the mother is always home, they will complain. If she’s not at home, they will complain. … One time I stayed at home for one week and they went crazy…. They wanted me out of the house.”
For me, nothing underscored the “no, you don’t have it all” idea like a toddler covered in spots. My son’s baby-sitters had never had chicken pox and couldn’t be exposed to him, and my husband was already away. My big out-of-town project had to wait. An initial blow, but in the grand scheme, no big deal.
More significant choices can bring lasting regret, like the moms who spend years training for specialized careers, only to discover their toddlers don’t do well in day care. So they give up their careers and stay home with the kids for a while, then find they cannot re-enter the workforce.
Juggling parenting and work is never easy. Some tips:
• Don’t fool yourself that a home-based business does not require child care. As soon as you get on the phone, your kids will be on you like magnets. • Love multiplies; it doesn’t divide. Your child can thrive with a loving nanny or sitter in addition to his parents. No one is “replacing” anyone.
• Sending a sick child to school is not a backup plan. Nor is taking a sick child to work with you. That will build resentment among your co-workers. Talk to your spouse and employer about options.
• Get off the phone and stop texting when you pick up your child from day care, and give him your full attention.
Betsy Flagler is a mother and preschool teacher. Email p2ptips att.net or call 704-236-9510.