I have been mulling this one blogpost over and over for a few weeks now. AnneMarie Slaughter (who gave up an important position at the State Department and went back to teaching at Princeton-"oh the horror") wrote an interesting post for The Atlantic complaining basically that she couldn't save the world and go to her sons' little league games at the same time. Read HERE. Of course the majority of those who commented wrote...."right-on sista." Jeffrey Goldberg, who is also an Atlantic blogger, answered her in this article in Bloomberg HERE.
I left this comment on the Goldberg post:
I have been hearing this whine from women like Slaughter for decades now. Spoiled and entitled. The reality is that you CAN have it all, not just at the same time. We all go
through different periods in our life and we must chose at each time
what is most important to us. What would this women do if she had real
issue with her children, say if one of her children were special needs?
She is so worried about fulfilling her own destiny that she forgets that
once you chose to have children it is their destiny you are required to
help make a reality. You chose to bring them into this world and yes,
they do come first.
By the way, my husband would also like to be home more and spend more
time with his children, but someone has to pay the bills for food,
clothing, shelter and all the little extras like therapy, tutors and
doctors galore. I have very little patience with those who think it is
all coming to them...Slaughter needs to count her blessings and quite
frankly grow up.
Perhaps I am being over critical, if I am let me know. But the reality is that I believe we have become a society where we think we are entitled to have reality fit into our world rather than fit ourselves into reality. Now don't get me wrong, there are alot of things that needed to be changed and still need to be changed within our little hemisphere of this orb called planet Earth. But when you chose to have children or you choose a particular kind of career, you had better think long and hard how it is going to effect every area of your life.
If you chose to go and save the world, you can't just tell the Syrian government to stop slaughtering its people because "Janey has a ballet recital." Or tell those dying from famine in the southern horn of Africa to stop being hungry because "Johnny has a speech to give in church." Honestly you don't even need to discuss this reality on such a grand scale. If you have a business and a client says to you I want 300 widgets by Monday and it is Sunday morning however, you only have two hundred widgets, then whatever plans you had with your family for that afternoon are shot. You get your butt to the office or factory wherever you have to go to get it done.
Oh you say it should not be like that. We should all live in a little utopia, where family and children come first, meanwhile we can all become world saviors and millionaires without giving up something. Fine you can also bring along your leprechaun pot o' gold, your unicorns and fairy dust as well.
Perhaps it is because as a special needs parent I am more than used to giving up plans, ideas and desires simply to get my boys where they need to go. But that was also my choice. I suppose I could have had a driven-career with little or no time for the children. But I chose to raise my own sons. Not to let someone else do it while I found myself. I wasn't one to allow them to be raised by a nanny before it was known that they had developmental issues, I certainly wasn't going to let someone else be in charge of their day to day progress once the extent of their issues became known. And yes it was my choice. I accept the outcomes of this choice and all that it entails.
Listen I am not complaining by any means. I think its part and parcel of being a grown up. You make choices and accept their consequences. (As Sartre said, "we are our choices." Afterall it is how we handle the consequences of our choices that shows our true metal as human beings.) When you make a choice you need to understand that that choice has repercussions. One of the outcomes of becoming a parent is that you are obligated to make sure your children have the best possible start in life. Furthermore, you are obligated to continue to support them until they are truly able to take care of themselves. If you have to give up your dreams, well so be it. I know everyone of you special needs parents understands this. HERE.
Perhaps it is understanding that there are things more important than yourselves or your need to "fulfill" your true inner self. I actually never really did get that part either. True inner self..what the heck is that anyway? If I waited to figure out who my true inner self happened to be then quite frankly I'd still be sitting and reading Cosmo Magazine. Which quite frankly was already an annoying waste of paper back in my college days when Helen Gurley Brown was the editor-in-chief. (With all do respect to Ms. Brown who was truly a feminist pioneer.)
In seriousness now, the truth of the matter is that most women who work have to. It is no choice. If given their druthers I believe most women, and some polls prove this, would stay home with their children. Women work, not to fulfill their inner selves but to buy the necessities of life and to be able to take care of their families. There are many issues that women face on a daily basis when it comes to taking care of their families. Affordable, descent child-care comes to mind as the preeminent. Maybe even a boss who will be understanding when a child is sick. An economy that doesn't make it more expensive to buy fresh salad than potato chips and oh yeah, gas back at $1.50 a gallon would help to. But none of these are really Prof. Slaughter's issues.
I remember an incident when the boys were little. I had had a year of physical hell, from car accidents to emergency surgery and we hired a service to clean the house. I couldn't do it and hubby couldn't keep up with the housework once he got home from the office everyday. CM1 thought it was cool that the ladies liked to do their work cleaning other people's crap. I assured him that they clean because they need to feed their families. It is not fun or enjoyable cleaning up after strangers. That noone says one day "hey I want to be someone's servant." It was a realization to him that there are things you sometimes need to do (legal things) simply to exist in this world. He has never forgotten that lesson by the way. It was the beginning of his understanding of the world around him. Yes the boys still live in a little cocoon, but that is OK too. That is what we work for on a daily basis. All of us parents. I don't think your children need to suffer to learn. Understanding the world around them comes through thought and care too, not always through individual trauma.
I think the reality is that in so many ways people like Ms. Slaughter live within a dream world that only include less than 1% of the 1%. We who live in the developed world and have access to the best things that humanity has to offer seem to constantly complain about issues that quite frankly don't even hit the radar for the rest of the world. Yes, its back to my "first world" worries. Well the "first world" issues of the top 1% of the top 1% of the planet anyway. If these women had real life threatening issues to worry about (like starvation, surviving war atrocities, gender apartheid or a real illness in the family) then perhaps they wouldn't worry so much about themselves and their inner-self.
The truth of the matter is you can't have it all. HERE. Something has to give, either time with your children or a lesser career. . And yes if you are going to have a high powered job at the State Department trying to save the world you are going to miss your kids growing up. By the way maybe these women who complain need to realize that men also give up these parts of life too. You don't get a pass on career requirements because you have a vagina. Some feminists they are. Feminism was all about allowing women into the working world, no glass ceiling. Now they complain because they are there and its not bending to their desires, needs and wants. If you can't do the job do something else. Sometimes you get what you wish for and it really is not the fairytale ending you thought it would be.
Oh and one more thing too...where is the husband in all of this or the children's father? If you are married why isn't your husband taking on some of the care responsibilities? Why are you the only one cleaning the house, doing the chores and cooking for everyone? But I don't think this was her point. The author's point is that it has nothing to do with her husband and the time he puts in with the children. It is her time and what she chooses to do with it that counts. Again it is all about her.
Too much of that going around in the first world quite frankly. Something is very wrong that her complaining is met with such acceptance and resounding applause. Spoiled, entitled and self-centered people. Thankfully I can openly say that no Anne-Maire Slaughter does not and never will speak for me.
Until next time,