I have a very distinct memory of, when I was in elementary school, my family having Chinese food every Friday night for dinner. It was the only night of the week that we all sat around the table and ate as a family.
Most other nights my mom just gave us what we were having to eat in front of the television (there were lots of these TV dinners for kids that had fried chichen and tater tots – mmm tater tots). Mom would eat sometime after that, alone in the kitchen and then, hours later, she would serve my dad his dinner when he got home. He worked long hours and had a long commute and so he ate alone. Except for Fridays, when we were young. That tradition ended by the time I hit junior high school.
He couldn’t have it all. A good job, a house, two cars, kids that he spent quality time with. He had the family and the stuff, but he had to live without the quality time. As did many men of his generation. And they did it without thinking too much about it because that was the way things were. My mom quit her job when she got married. That was also the way things were.
Anyway, this is what came to mind as I read Broadsheet’s post, Girls, forget “having it all”, about the British headmistress who pointed out that maybe it’s time that girls were told that having it all wasn’t as easy as it seemed.
I happen to think she made some sensible points. Encouraging blind optimism in the face of potentially overwhelming challenges isn’t helpful. I can think of more than one woman I know who was driven to despair because her attempt to have it all didn’t quite work out the way she thought it would.
But then, and I’ll admit that my perspective on this can’t possibly be fair because I never tried to “have it all” and spent my 20s and early 30s married to my job. Maybe the probem isnt’ that girls can’t have it all but rather that no one can. Again, I look to my dad and the men of his generation who, quite frankly, barely saw their kids during the workweek. Perhaps it’s impossible for any person to work more than 40 hours a week (plus commuting time) and spend quality time with their family?
I’m not suggesting that women (and men) have to choose between career and family. Rather that we be more realistic about what can and can’t be done in a single day or week.
Anyway, that’s my question: Is it possible for a person – MAN OR WOMAN – to work more than 40 hours a week and spend quality time with their family?
- Yes, absolutely. (18 votes)
- No. There’s just not enough time in each day. (29 votes)
- Maybe. It depends on the circumstances. (283 votes)
- Other. Please explain in the comments. (3 votes)
Tags: Broadsheet, dad