More on the Time Magazine cover showing a couple sans kids lounging on the beach, languishing in the sun, enjoying their uncluttered, childless lives. More power to them. I have no problem with people who make the choice not to have children. For one thing, there are plenty of parents out there who should have made the same decision not to reproduce, if there deplorable parenting skills are an indicator. Secondly, I think couples who remain childless are pretty brave, as they often face an undercurrent of societal disapproval, since the vast majority of married couples do decide to have children.
Having said that, I read with interest the following piece written by Julie Cole: TIME Cover Says: Having It All Means NOT Having Kids :: YummyMummyClub.ca. She makes some valid points. First of all, she describes how the glam shot could be offensive to couples who want to have a child but are unable to — because they spend THEIR child free hours not languishing on the beach but in fertility clinics going through invasive procedures to no avail.
She then writes that it could also be offensive to parents, that Time is implying that “having it all” means parents have less than fulfilling lives simply because they decide to “bring others” into it.
This got me thinking about how the entire “Having it All” phrase – which first came on the scene in the eighties – is extremely misleading. It conjures images of a woman who has a stellar career, a houseful of well-behaved children, an enviable marriage, and time for herself, every single day of her life. How unattainable is THAT?!?
Don’t get me wrong, I think women CAN have it all (a career, kids, etc), but not necessarily at the same time.
And therein lies the distinction.
A working mom with small children has very little time to herself; the same goes for the stay at home mom. And women, whether they work outside the home or not, are often too exhausted to do anything but sleep when they DO manage some alone time. Then there’s a marriage that needs nurturing, and the bills that need to be paid, and on and on it goes, regardless of whether they choose to work outside the home or not. Having it all seems like too much work (and at that point in a woman’s life, it is — that’s just the reality of it).
But children do grow up. Suddenly, Mom has more time to devote to whatever she wants to. If she’s worked the entire time, she can continue to do that, but have evenings and weekends for other pursuits. She and her spouse can go spend those foregone hours on the beach if they want to. If she’s stayed home, she’s suddenly got a variety of choices regarding whether to work full-time, part-time, volunteer, go back to school, or whatever.
Moms work hard, and making them think they’re less than because they can’t have it all RIGHT THIS SECOND, is unfair. After all, life is a journey, not a destination.