Yesterday we published a story that detailed the daily schedule of an anonymous but exhausted Washington DC-based lawyer. Her schedule sparked much debate and discussion on Twitter. Women and men jumped in to compare their lives and question hers. It angered some, found sympathy with others and scared the mothering instincts out of a group of young women.
It begs the question: have high-powered mothers been sharing a bit too much lately? From Anne-Marie Slaughter to the lawyer at the centre of the recent airing, it's been a cavalcade of work-life struggle. Here's what some had to say about it on Twitter:
@niltiac: As a working mother, my life is nothing like that. And I have more energy and time now I'm back in office.
@em_es_cee: I know I think I contribute more at home than the woman who married me does.
@Sally_Jackson: Of the men I know, very few do 50% of the home/parenting unless they're divorced. But some.
@bronwen: My point. Women should push less to "have it all" and more for men to have more of "it"
@attardmon: Feels like we just go round and round in circles, doesn't it?
The schedule resonated with me as my life resembled the apparent nightmare that is the lot of this lawyer when my sons were very young. My husband and I both worked full-time. When you have a full job and a young family you don't get a lot of sleep unless you have live-in help. We had family help. My retired father slept on a fold-out sofa for years, three nights a week, so I could work full-time. Without it life would have been impossible. There was no way that we could afford a live-in nanny. That was our reality. But everyone has a different experience.
The discussion on Twitter was healthy banter for the most part - mostly mothers and fathers sharing their personal accounts of work-life balance as they know it. But some of the young women pushed back.
@ambiej: Very effective contraception. RT @marinasgo: I remember this well. It's hell but doesn't last forever.
@_Tors: I think I just want to hear from some women who aren't mid-crisis.
These women make fair points. At some point in the past decade mothers who are writers decided that honesty was the best policy and everyone has since been sharing every detail of pain that they've ever endured, particularly with regard to childbirth and motherhood. Even though both experiences are mostly joyous, book deals and notoriety have been gained from the sharing of the downside.
The true downside though is that too many 20-something talented women have told me they don't want to put themselves through what my generation has endured. Many have said they will choose either career or family. They have rejected the thought of trying to do both.
I feel compelled to tell our next generation of career-focused parents that the sleepless nights and tough days in the office that follow don't last forever. I like to think of it as a life-stage. It's like a rite of passage for parents. Most of us went through it and survived. More than survived, actually. I now look back at those times with fondness.
Don't let our over-sharing put you off. I would hate you to miss out on the joy my family and career bring me.
Do stories about work-life struggle fill you with fear? Would you rather we didn't share?
Marina Go is GM of Hearst-Bauer, publisher of Harper's Bazaar, ELLE and Cosmopolitan. She is also chair of the Wests Tigers, a director of Odyssey House McGrath Foundation and a member of the advisory boards of the Walkley Foundation, The Remarkables Group and Women's Agenda. She has an MBA from The AGSM and is a member of the AICD. Her new book is Break Through: 20 Success Strategies for Female Leaders.
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