Newsweek recently published an article by Debora Spar, the president of Barnard College, called American Women Have It Wrong. Below is a bullet point summary of the article with some of my favorite quotes. I’d love to hear your comments.
- “A woman cannot work a 60-hour-per-week job and be the same kind of parent she would have been without the 60-hour-per-week job. No man can do this: no human can do this.”
- Juggling kids, husbands, and jobs..and being left on the edge of insanity has convinced Spar that there is still a “women’s problem” in the US and that we are strugglingâ€”berating ourselves for failing at the all-consuming balancing act.
- The number of working moms in the US is up from 45 to 78 percent. While the average time that an American mom works is up from 9 hours to 25 hours per week. Yet, women are still devoting an average of 40 hours a week to family care.
- “The only way to solve this problem is to recognize that the quest to ‘have it all’ is a myth and by using ‘all’ as the standard of success, we are only condemning ourselves and our daughters to failure.”
- Spar argues that other cultures, who have more intentional community have it right. She argues for babysitting cohorts, close family members, and collective goalsâ€”focus on better schools together, rather than focusing on our own children’s SAT scores.
- “Feminism wasn’t supposed to make us miserable. It was supposed to make us free to give women the power to shape their fortunes and work for a more just world….”
Women are biologically burdened with the task of bearing, birthing, and feeding children. I carry that wonderful burden, while living in the perpetual tension of being the most present mommy I can be and fulfilling what God has called me to do in my community, church, and world.
It’s a battle to do both, and while I agree with Sparâ€”if the biggest issue that American women are facing is that sometimes we can’t balance it allâ€”well that’s nothing to complain about. That’s a gift. There are women all over the world who are enslaved, beaten, raped, and daily destroyedâ€”body and soul. They have no balance issues.
“You can have it all, but not all at once”.
I take comfort in that phrase; still, it feels like a rabbit trail. It means I am constantly searching/waiting for the elusive “all” in the future, rather than being grateful for the present.
Today, we got some slightly discouraging news about our youngest. You may remember that he had surgery a few months ago. It’s not a travesty, but it does mean continued tests and follow-ups and appointments.
I fought back tears in the doctor’s office.
In front of a male neurosurgeon.
I kept saying, I’m sorry. I’m just tired. I hurt my foot this week, so I’m just exhausted. I’m sorry.
Today, I go back to the art of contentment. Today, I focus on the spiritual discipline of gratefulness.
So: I am grateful for my precious-smiling-champion-boy. I am grateful to be a woman. I am grateful that I even have the opportunity to be stressed about my calling as a mom versus my calling to the world outside of mommy-dom.
As women we are called. Maybe to motherhood. Maybe to follow our God-given dreams. But absolutely to be images of love, justice, and righteousness to a world that desperately needs it. When women disappear into their homes and hide their giftsâ€”or if they are hidden (by force) from the worldâ€”it is less bright, less compassionate. It is less.
Rather than striving towards perfection and all, let’s strive to encourage, serve, and empower.
That would do wonders towards setting other women (and ourselves) free.
And then maybe, it wouldn’t be embarrassing to cry in front of a male doctor or admit that we’re struggling with balanceâ€”maybe we’d begin to do both, shamelessly.
October 15th was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. If you missed it, remember to pray for the precious families who have suffered such a tremendous tragedy.
And if that is you, you are my hero. I am praying for your comfort and that your baby and your story will always be remembered. You are loved.