In the not so distant past, a woman's place was considered to be the home. Then women began finding their footing in the workplace, leaving their ovens behind (at least until after work). Slowly, women moved from the secretary's desk to the CEO's office. Now, thankfully, women can be found in virtually every career and every company in the world. Girls are taught to dream big. If a little girl announces that she wants to be President someday, no one tells her that her goal is impossible. No. Now we teach girls that they can do it all.
In my previous life, I was a lawyer. I spent a few years in a big firm doing real lawyer type things...going back to the office after dinner, working on Thanksgiving weekend, feeling the pressure of billable hours. Then I took a more mom-friendly job--great hours, great people, lower stress. But when news of our double blessing came along, we jointly decided that even this mom-friendly position wasn't quite mom-friendly enough. Thus, I began a new career as Barnes and Frances's mom.
Soon after the babes arrived, a wonderful opportunity for me to work a few hours a week from home presented itself. I immediately jumped on board. So now I spend my days taking care of two six-month olds, and some of my nights researching and writing about legal issues.
Why was I so anxious to work again? I believe much of my desire to be "more than just a mom" stems from now having a daughter. I look at Frances and so badly want her to know that she can have anything, be anything. That her aspirations should be limitless. That she really can do it all. And I feel compelled to lead by example...to be both a full-time mom and a part-time lawyer...to give her something to say when someone asks her what her mom does. But will I be selling her a fantasy? Can women, or anyone for that matter, really do it all?
Although it's not the most popular opinion, I do not believe that we can do it all. Women with full-time jobs can be excellent mothers. Stay-at-home moms can make significant contributions through part-time work. But we all have to make choices. We all have to sacrifice something. Some women sacrifice being the first one to see their child walk; others sacrifice the career they worked their whole lives to build. Either way, from my vantage point doing it all seems literally impossible.
So maybe instead of teaching our daughters that they can do it all, we should encourage them to do their best. And maybe we should hold ourselves to this same standard.