Thursday

How Working Moms Can Have it All!

Bacon Frying


 "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget you're a man. 'Cause I'm a woman Enjoli!"

The 1980's were full of big hair, tight pants and cheesy commercials like the Enjoli commercial that used the above quote. Imagine that phrase being song seductively to burlesque style music. The gist of the the lyrics was that women were expected to do it all. And the subtext of the commercial was that we could look sexy while doing it provided we had the right perfume. That commercial and Helen Gurley Brown's book, Having It All: Love, Success, Sex, Money Even If You're Starting With Nothing might be the origin of the extremely high expectations that exist for working moms.


Maybe it is not Realistic for Working Moms to Even Try to "Have it All"

Like I said recently in a prior post, "[w]e’re expected to have the homemaking skills of Martha Stewart, the negotiating skills of Hillary Clinton, and the energy to “lean in” like Sheryl Sandberg with the success that comes with it--all wrapped in a gorgeous Halle Berry package. We are also expected to raise kids that never talk back, play the cello like Yo Yo Ma, and attend Ivy League colleges on full scholarships. We're also supposed to be romancing our husbands like we're starring in the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey." (see Working Mom Tips: Ten Things that Every Working Mom Needs) Those expectations are fueled by our own desires, pressures from people we know, and pressures we feel from that media ideal perpetuated by Sheryl Sandberg.

In the simplest of terms, we believe that we are expected to "have it all". Accordingly, we work really hard and sometimes beat ourselves up when we fall short. As Mothers Day approaches I am reflecting on how the expectations on working moms got to be so high.


Women can't do it all. - Drew Barrymore

‘Having It All’, a phrase coined by a woman without children

Helen Gurley Brown coined the phrase, “having it all” when she wrote a book by the same name. My mother had a copy of that book and I read it shortly after graduating college. Helen made it seem so simple. She suggested that hard work, pluck and a little luck was all you need to live the good life. As someone whose family had modest means, I wanted that life. I imagined my life would be full of a great career, a great relationship, great money and a great wardrobe. I had no plans for children then. It was only later that I came to associate working and motherhood as "having it all". I kind of blame the media for that...

Notably, while Helen was a very accomplished business executive and entrepreneur she had no children. Please save the hate mail. I don’t say this as a judgment or to suggest that her opinion doesn’t matter because she wasn’t a mom. I say it for factual accuracy and to suggest that she may not have been thinking about working and mothering when she coined the phrase. Indeed, the entire title is, “Having It All: Love, Success, Sex, Money Even If You're Starting With Nothing", motherhood was omitted. It makes you wonder if she was even contemplating that it was even possible to fit motherhood into the scenario.

Adding children to the equation changes everything


Motherhood changes the equation. In order to succeed as a working mom you are required to draw on all of your talents, skills and abilities. There is no rest for the working mom and no breaks. It is a full time all consuming type of gig that never sleeps. That said, balancing work and motherhood shows you what you are made of. And if you can succeed, you might just get the love, sex, and money too.

Here's hoping!!!


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