Former first lady Michelle Obama has been on a promotional tour for her top-selling memoir “Becoming.” Over the weekend at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York she spoke about making a marriage work and also focusing on a satisfying career. Mrs. Obama shocked the crowd when she said: “That whole ‘So you can have it all.’ Nope, not at the same time. That’s a lie. And it’s not always enough to lean in, because that sh*t doesn’t work all the time.”
The struggle to juggle and balance career and family is nothing new to women, and I’m no exception. In 2013, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg coined the phrase “lean in,” telling women in her book by that title not to hold back on their careers, because she believes we can juggle work and raise a family at the same time. Years ago, Helen Gurley Brown wrote a book titled “Having It All” with much the same idea.
And when I was a little girl there was the Enjoli perfume ad on television which told us we could “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget you’re a man.” The idea was (and still is) that we as women can work, grocery shop, cook, clean, look great and take care of our husbands the minute they walk in the door. Sorry guys, but that is clearly a fantasy.
Now, before my fellow females yank my feminist membership card from me, let me be clear: Most of us women know what it’s like to juggle numerous tasks at one time. I am convinced if you look up the word ‘multi-tasker’ in the dictionary there could be a photo of any one of us women.
But the truth is, even though many of us, myself included, work, cook, clean, take care of the children, chauffeur them around, run errands, bake sweets for the bake sale, iron Girl Scout patches on our daughters’ vests, bring the shin guards our kids forgot to their soccer game, and make sure we’re cheering them on from the sidelines, we’re tired.
And, if we’re totally honest with ourselves, we can’t do all of it perfectly. It’s simply impossible to give 100 percent to your job, children, and husband “at the same time,” as the former first lady said.
When I am on radio or television, I am giving 100 percent to my profession. But I’m not baking cookies while I’m analyzing politics. And when I am with my kids, I am 100 percent with them – fully, I’m all in.
So ladies, if there are days when you feel like the guy in the circus spinning ten plates at one time and fearing one will fall – that’s normal. We are, after all, human.
You can have it all – career, family, a relationship. But cut yourself a break because you can’t be a rock star mom, employee, wife, girl scout leader, soccer coach, friend and more…all at the same time.