I was in a client meeting last week when the topic of moms “having it all” came up.
Gah. I want to stop typing right there. “Having it all” makes me want to throw up a bit in my mouth. It’s SO OVERDONE. Overused. Abused.
I’m going to forge on now as I did in that meeting; bear with me.
The topic actually came up authentically in the course of this client’s business discussion. It wasn’t a side conversation during a break in the meeting among the working moms in the room who were lamenting over which one couldn’t get her 5-mile run in this morning because she had an early board meeting to zip off to after dropping her three perfectly coifed and ironed children off at Montessori to continue on their path towards presidency.
Nope, the topic came up in the course of ideating a new strategic platform for the client, whose primary focus is on the mom consumer. (You do know what I do for a living, right?)
I personally have been accused of “having it all” in the past and while outwardly rolling my eyes, internally secretly loved the accusation because, well, that competition thing. It’s real, it exists, and don’t think I have gotten to this stage in my career because I’m not competitive. Why do you think the “mommy wars” exist? (Oops, throwing up in my mouth again.) Because moms are competitive. News flash!
For Pete’s sake, at my son’s soccer game last weekend, I showed up (un-showered, mind you) wearing a t-shirt, skinny jeans and a long necklace and another mom in workout gear pointedly asked me why I was so dressed up. She wasn’t joking. “Have you been to church or something this morning? Seriously, why so dressed up?” Uhhh…
Do I really have it all? Psshh, child please.
I yell at my kids. I have no patience for helping with homework. I’m late. They’re late. Sometimes I’d rather escape to Starbucks with my laptop than be at home. I’m stressed and anxious and have decided I’m probably thin only because my heart is constantly racing. I’m sure I project my stress onto my wee ones (one of whom has been diagnosed with generalized anxiety, okay?) and my workaholic tendencies are probably giving them self-esteem issues. Does that make you feel better?
Sounds like a dream, right? Just another day in Having It All! Whee!
Do you think we can just decide we should not be so competitive? That we can just decide to stop the drive towards trying to have it all? I’m telling you, it was mentioned in the meeting that day. People who are very smart and strategic, at the top of their games, and who work with moms every day allow this idea to spill out of their mouths too easily, in my opinion. I’ve heard it. Like, “let’s just help American moms off this path of destruction called perfectionism! Easy peasy, done and done!”
God, if only that whole sentiment came in a pill.
Instead of talking the tired talk about how “we don’t have to have it all! (wink!),” because God knows we love to beat a dead horse, let’s have a REAL, blunt, head-on conversation about the fact that yep, we do all want it all and we do want it all to be just like we imagined and we do want it to be better than the mom next door to boot.
If we (and the brands we love) really want to help moms, how about feeding into this innate drive, this wired-in competition, and flip it so that the drive is towards who is the BEST about shutting off (or attempting to?) the laptop at 5:00 most often? Who does the BEST job of encouraging her child to learn through play the instead of doing anxiety-ridden worksheets? Who is the BEST about asking for and leaning on help from her personal village? Who is the BEST about talking most openly and honestly about her fears and insecurities when it comes to motherhood? Who is the BEST at making others around her feel like their no. 1 goal should be to achieve perfectly imperfect? Who is the BEST at not gossiping about other moms and the way they manage, acknowledging the fact that none of us knows what’s really going on at home, in families and personal lives, and God bless us every one. Whew.
Own up to it and then figure out what works for you. What is your “all.” And then work it, mama. Not just for you but also for your need to show Suzy next door that yes, you indeed are going to rock those hot pink skinny jeans and let them mask your anxiety about the fact that your demanding job and the needs of your offspring are in a constant state of war that you will never admit to Suzy.
Because God help you, you will persevere with ALL the drive you have. All.You.Have.