Monday, October 8, 2012

They Lied

When they said, "You can have it all! You can be everything you want to be! You can DO it all!"

They lied.

I think it's been a good way to sell product- "THIS will help you have it all, do it all and be everything we've been telling you that you should be!".

But beyond being a useful advertising angle, it's a destructive concept.

Because I really, honestly don't believe you can be everything to everyone. I think it's a misconception to think that one can do everything one wants to do and do it all perfectly.

I think, as women, we buy into it, and then spend the rest of our lives beating ourselves up because in the heart of our hearts, at our core, we know we're not doing it all well.

If Turner Classic Movies and Sirius Classics commercials and old radio dramas are anything to go by, it's been going on since the second world war.

When the men were overseas fighting, women were encouraged/guilted into picking up the slack at the factories where the men had worked before being shipped out. Women who couldn't work were encouraged to do their part by providing child care for the ones who were now working on behalf of the war effort.

And women were applauded for their efforts.

And men came home from the war and took back their jobs.

And women were faced with the mundane, and now comparatively routine boredom of housewifery.

And some women didn't like it.

And women's liberation was born.

What makes me sad, is that since WW2 and women's lib, nobody wins.

If you are content and fulfilled working at home as a dedicated homemaker, society sends enough messages to make you feel like you're an underachiever and there's something wrong with you.

If you are most happy and fulfilled as a working woman, it's not enough to have a career, you must also be a full-time mother and keep your house and family life running smoothly. Two full time jobs for the price of one.

I would like to see a society that affirms women in whatever roles they choose. Women who are confident and gracious enough to be content and strong in their own choices and who don't have to make the women who have made different choices feel less strong and confident.

You really can't have it all and do it all and be all that.

But you can choose who you want to be, and you can do that really well.

And how did I get on this rant?

As I was sitting alone at the table eating my breakfast, observing that this seems to be the new rhythm of our lives here- me up early eating breakfast alone, him up late coming to bed after I've fallen asleep- I wished that I could do it all. I thought how nice it would be to be able to be that person who can stay up late with the husband and get up early with the sun, and be cheerful and alert all day...

And I thought, "Whoever said you can have it all, lied."

And so it began.


  1. Laura - this is one of the best and least loaded posts I've seen on this topic anywhere.

    And FWIW men can't have it all either - Chris goes to bed before me and is usually up after me. I wish I could sleep comfortably 8 hours + with her, at least half the time.


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  4. Thanks for reading Jason.

    The "Reader's Digest Condensed Version" of this post would be, "why can't women do what fulfills them, whether working at home or out there, without being criticized or condemned."

    A bigger picture is always to be appreciated, and your comments are insightful. Thanks for writing.