It has been a persistent question ever since women began entering the workforce en masse in the late 1960s in America. Can we have it all — a happy, healthy family and a successful career?
Men have been dealing with the “having it all” question, too, and while some may struggle for their answer, professional tennis player Andy Murray, 27, is certain of the role family plays in his life. Now that he and his wife have a little girl, born in February, her well-being is the priority.
One of the top two tennis players in the world, Murray says he was changed forever when alone in the hospital room for the first time with his newborn daughter, Sophia. “I was holding her and that’s when I started to get emotional,” he told the Daily Mail. “There was no one to help and I was responsible for her.”
After Murray lost a recent match in Miami, Florida, a TV commentator pointed out that the new dad looked “exhausted.” Then, his wife Kim mentioned that she had read something similar. “Kim told me she had read an article where it was sort of blaming our child for me losing a match. That’s actually a horrible thing to say,” Murray told the Mail. “That’s not the case, but so what if she did? Why does that matter?”
One Boston sales representative can relate to Murray’s sentiments — recalling when he put family solidly ahead of the company.
“I was responsible for opening up the New York market from my home in Connecticut, so I was gone three to four days a week, leaving my two little boys — one just a newborn — back home,” he told LifeZette. “At night on the phone my wife would say, ‘The baby gave a big smile today,’ or my other little boy would master a new skill, and I would just feel an indescribable ache inside. What was I doing, working so hard and missing these incredible moments?”
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He added, “When I told my company I was pulling out of New York, they were not happy. But we ended up transferring to another location within the company where I could be home every night, so it all worked out — with some discussion. And my priorities were aligned. I lost my father when I was a boy, so it’s important to me to be there for my children.”
Says Murray of his parenting perspective: "Becoming a parent is life-changing and if it helps my tennis, great," he told the Daily Mail. "And if it doesn't, fine. That's not a problem for me now. My priority is to be a good father first."
Award-winning actress Angela Lansbury famously uprooted her family from California to Ireland back in 1970, leaving Hollywood and all its glittering opportunities behind, to ensure the health and safety of her children.
"Certainly, I have no doubt we would have lost one or both of our two [children] if they hadn't been removed to a completely different milieu, the simplicity of life in Ireland," she told the Mail.
Her children, Anthony and Deirdre, had been swept up in the counter-cultural revolution of the late 1960s – her son had started using hard drugs, and her daughter had become close with members of the infamous Manson family.
"We had our problems ... so coming [back] to Ireland was like beginning all over again. It afforded us that time to get back to basics, really," Lansbury told the Belfast Telegraph of their move to put family first. "We bought a house down in Cork and we gardened and I learned to cook, really cook for the first time, and used all the produce from the garden and so on. We started a whole new life."
Her son is now a top U.S. film producer, and her daughter runs an award-winning restaurant with her husband. And Lansbury's career was not hurt by putting family first — she's received an honorary Oscar and won five Tony Awards, six Golden Globes, and an Olivier Award, among other accolades.
Allison Carmen, a life coach, public speaker, and the author of "The Gift of Maybe," told LifeZette, "We need to ask ourselves, 'What am I really afraid of when I consider making a change, especially one that benefits the family?' We need to cultivate some strength and resilience, culturally, and figure out what is important to us."
Carmen advocates inserting the word "maybe" into our thinking patterns. "'Maybe' doesn't demand anything. It only says: The life you're living — maybe there's another way. It's amazing the power that word has, without being demanding or intimidating."
"We need to be in the moment as parents because kids are so unpredictable," added Carmen. "We have a great fear of missing out, professionally, because we're afraid we're not measuring up if we miss the meeting, [or] if we don't take the promotion. But can we be happy saying, 'I wasn’t a good parent, but I had a great career'?"
Trust in one's unique path and being open to what life offers — those two mindsets also help make peace with tough decisions. Carmen offers another insight into defining life's priorities — gratitude.
"Gratitude is more than just feeling grateful. Gratitude allows us to see everything in our life that is working, and can help us make decisions, and also combat fear about the future. It helps us feel the moment."