We have recently elected our first female Governor General to Australia. This was an exciting moment for me, as a woman to see another woman make it. I made Daise watch it on the TV when she was sworn in (she was unimpressed and wanted Dora back on toot sweet) and I was proud our of new Head of State. She is a successful business woman, someone who gives to the community and is a Mother (of 5!!!! kids) and Grandmother. Last night she gave an interview on the 7.30 Report where she talked openly and HONESTLY about being a successful mother, and colleague, and boss and about those dreaded words that are often thrown about…having it all.
When asked about how some women who try to “do it all” and it tears them apart she said ” It does, it absolutely exhausts them. For a very long time now I’ve been saying to young women, you can have it all, but not all at the same time. How important it is to take very good care of yourself, of your mental and physical and spiritual wellbeing, it’s hard to do. It’s easier to be a workaholic than to have a truly balanced life. It’s very tough for a lot of women teetering on that tight rope of balance and balancing too many responsibilities.” And the interview went on (sorry for the transcript but it struck such a chord with me)
The Interviewer: You gave one insight as Governor when you spoke at a mental health conference in 2004 about your mid-20, when you had three children under four, you said, “I remember lying in my bed shrouded in fear asking myself how would I ever cope with my little baby, two toddlers, keeping my household running, my job, my marriage, my life, how easily I could have travelled down another road, I gained my first insight into mental health, how vulnerable we are, I had heard and read about breakdowns, suddenly I had a glimpse”. Does it bring it back?
QUENTIN BRYCE: It does. It was a time in my life that taught me a very important lesson about the need for women in their families to put themselves on the top of the family agenda. That if a mother is well, a family is well. I became quite ill because I neglected my health and I ended up with quite serious pneumonia, and it’s a lesson that I have passed on to many young women.
So here is a smart intelligent woman who may well have been speaking straight to me…and I am sure many other working mothers out there that you can have it all. But not at once. Sarah Palin might take a note out of her book there
So I have been thinking about this all morning (in my eyes I look just like Carrie Bradshaw pondering at her laptop whilst sipping on a martini) why do we want it all? Of course we can’t give 100% to everything it is just too exhausting. In this quest to do it all are we actually just giving everything like 70% so in fact everyone is missing out? Did my private school education that told me I can be anything I want if I put my mind to it and that women can do everything really just make me a bad mother? Deep I know! AND it’s only 10.00 in the morning!
AND….while I am ranting….why do I think/feel/expect that I can do everything perfectly??? Why do I get SOOOO disappointed with myself, and for that matter Daisy and Rob when everything is not running smoothly? Why all the freakin’ expectation? And why should it “appear” to be hunky dory for everyone else? Because if we actually admit (gulp) fear!! or (worse)challenges!!…we have failed?
I am at work because we need the money to pay the mortgage. But more than that I am at work because I really like it. I work with a great team of people who appreciate and respect what I do. And I LOVE the time out from Daisy on the 3 days that I have (although I am permanently racked with guilt about that). But with working comes daycare, and a cranky kid that might not sleep all that well, not to mention expense of it all which are all pot holes in my “perceived” smooth road to being a great Mum and employee. And then I start at myself…you know I hardly have a stellar career anyway… I am not a famous lawyer, or brain surgeon AND I am lucky to just work 3 days and that I have that flexibility. On my days off they are days off – I rarely have to work on them AND let’s not forget this one…I only have ONE child. So what’s the problem??? And so the cycle continues…and my frustrations for not achieving this “perfection” are once again met. I am amazed everyday by the challenges that motherhood has put on me. I never thought that my own mother and sisters, sister in laws, cousins and friends all had these same challenges they just ‘looked’ to me like you COULD do it all. Well they are aren’t they?
It’s all food for thought for me. Maybe I should try and focus on just one thing and do that well. Maybe I should stop trying to think that everyone else out there is nailing it and I am a failure. Maybe I really AM a good mother to Daise and how we are going along is actually I daresay it OK? When I go to sleep at night I really do think all of these things…if I didn’t I wouldn’t get up in the morning! Sometimes it’s just good to sit back. Look at it. And ponder.
Now I better do some work!!!
So what about you? How DO you do it all?