The same year I was born, 1982, a book came out called Having It All. It was written by a former editor at Cosmopolitan magazine who stressed how women should be able to be successful at love and money. The book hit the best-seller list and the saying “Having It All” quickly became a feminist mantra of the ‘80s. Next, the concept became the basis of the 1987 movie, Baby Boom, staring Diane Keaton.
In the movie, Keaton’s character is told by her boss, who was about to make her partner, that “A man can be a success [at work] and still have a personal life…” But that as a woman, Keaton would have to make a choice between the two.
Fast forward to 2019 and you would think 30-something years would have settled any debate about if women can have it all. But, not really. Recent studies reveal that the concept of “having it all” is no longer a mantra of encouragement but a pressure on women to DO IT ALL.
Stress on women and working mothers in particular is on the rise. “Women are suffering as they are expected to 'manage everything' including their jobs and their families,” says London’s Daily Mail. “They are also under general pressure from society to be successful, socially popular and physically attractive.” The Daily Mail adds that, “…Twice as many females nowadays are at risk of burnout compared to almost 30 years ago…. Scientists say the findings could have implications for their long-term health as they are more likely to develop disease as they get older.”
Women struggling to DO IT ALL not only risk their physical health, but their mental health. “‘Some professional women aspire to do it all: reach the top of the corporate ladder and fly like supermom,’" said Dr. Erin Joyce in The New York Times article, There’s a Stress Gap Between Men and Women. “'When women don’t reach this ideal, they feel guilty and even more stressed.'"
Doing It All, At Home…Still
While women are a larger part of the US workforce today than 30 years ago, the pressure on women to DO IT ALL on the home-front still exists. Multiple studies, including a United Nations Report and a Pew Report, conclude that working mothers still bear the majority of childcare responsibilities. "In 2016, moms spent about 25 hours a week on paid work, compared with nine hours in 1965. At the same time, they spent 14 hours a week on child care, up from 10 hours a week in 1965." (Even though it’s important to note that dads today contribute more time – around eight hours a week - to childcare, which is triple the amount reported 50 years ago. Shout out to all the awesome Dads, including my sweet husband!)
And it doesn’t end there. Families with working parents are also combatting the rising cost of childcare in America. Sympathies to my DC friends where it’s the costliest in the nation– averaging $23,666 a year to care for infants and $18,657 a year for four-year-olds. In fact, a FastCompany magazine article says, “Between 1985 and 2011 alone, the cost of childcare went up by 70%, even though wages barely grew.” Painful.
When It’s All All Too Much
Being expected to work like Sheryl Sandberg, mom like Mary Poppins, party like Miley Cyrus and look like Jane Fonda (and I do mean through the years) is enough to make anyone crazy!
The DOING IT ALL pressure on women is all too much. So, what if we turned it around? What if instead of trying to HAVE it all or DO it all, we focused on ENJOYING all we have?
What if we clicked unsubscribe to the idea that there is any one standard of female perfection? What if we worked instead to be great stewards of whatever we have in our lives while we have it? Most of us likely won’t have the same job or the same income forever. Our time with our families – whether our own children or our parents - will always end too soon. I am blessed to have a sweet husband, a son and a business of my own, but none of it belongs to me. They are my blessings to steward in this life while I have them.
Ladies, the struggles are very real, but imagine the legacy we could create another 30 years from now if enjoying - not accumulating or accomplishing - was our goal. No one has it all. No one does it all. Only God can claim that glory. But, I believe, anyone can ENJOY all they have.