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Friday 6 July 2018

Guest Post: Wendy Iscove on Having It All

Can We Really Have It All?

Can we do this thing - parenting and working, at the same time? A task that is asking us to:
  • Raise our kids
  • Prepare healthy food choices /meals for our family
  • Organize all the activities around our family (child-care, doctors appointments, sports practices, entertainments, play-dates, etc.)
  • Keep our bodies physically-fit and our minds active and full of interesting new information
  • Go to work and be 100% productive while there
  • Oh, and then finally, keep ourselves appealing and attractive to our mate, so we can remember why we did all of this in the first place

Let’s take a minute and look at the situation we’ve been encouraged to accept.
In the '70s, with the advent of the women’s movement, one aspect of the newly-found freedoms espoused that women could absolutely have it all.  

We could go out into the job market and manage a family at home, at the same time, with apparent ease; but, I contend that we might be sacrificing a reasonable quality of life for ourselves and our family when we endeavor to do it all

I would ask, "At what expense does this come -  our nerves, our sanity, our marriage, our blown-out adrenals?” Something might have to give. Additional media pressure motivates parents to become someone other than that one who just stays at home to raise their child, clearly sending the message that the home arena is not the happening place to be.

This is not to take away from the enormous, world-changing, positive, life and work possibilities that opened to women, as a result of this noble movement and to acknowledge that it was the decisive voice for what evolved as the biggest and most significant change of focus for parenting at home, in the last century. But at what sacrifice?

For several decades I have observed and worked with parents from many different life circumstances, including different careers and financial levels who all were grappling with how to manage child-care, while working. 

The level of stress, I often saw parents carrying, was staggering. We’re not always aware of the stress these life choices can have on us and our lives as we so often put ourselves at the end of the daily to do list; we don’t take the time to catch our breath and check in with ourselves, asking ourselves how our body is feeling, through all of this stress. By nightfall, we’re just thrilled to have gotten through it all with everyone still alive and relatively well. But is this it? Is this what we call a quality life?

We get up the next morning and do it all over again. I need to qualify… I am not talking about those families with significant financial need or folks who find themselves in single-parenting situations, where there is no option but to work and provide, on their own.

There are some parents, who decide to step off the merry-go-round-of- expectations of doing and having it all and experience a shattering relief…a letting go, as they turn toward a simpler life with one person handling the child-care, at home, all or most of the time ( be it the mother, father, or the blessing of a family member). I know… that sounds scary. Yet, at the same time, it feels, somehow, eerily authentic...like this is really and truly how life is supposed to work. We are supposed to peacefully enjoy our kids and the life we have created with them. Being peacefully present for them is a big part of the solution.

And yes, we would all like to see the following principles of equality inform our final, yet fluid (allowing for flexible scheduling) decisions as we manage family and work:
  • Women have equal access to all aspects and opportunities of a full life, as also enjoyed by men.
  • Women and men have the right to choose to work at home or outside the home.
  • It is not just the women’s role to stay at home. Both jobs (those in and outside the home) deserve equal respect.
  • Household responsibilities are shared.
  • Managing child-care is shared.
  • Men and women are equally capable of caring for children.
  • People who chose to live together as a family unit (whatever the configuration) are accepted as just that – a family.
But with all this grown-up talk about equality, where does the child fit into this decision-making process of managing family and work?

After 40 years of working with children, teachers, and parents, I sometimes question the decisions we make for them; and, whether we truly hear and understand the inner needs of these little ones that have come to us and through us? 

Clearly hearing them might influence the numerous decisions we make for their care? I feel it’s critical to hear the child’s own voice and so, in my book, How To Grow Kids, I speak from the perspective of Andy, a made-up character, who represents any, and all young boys or girls. Please listen with your heart open, as he speaks about his feelings from his heart…where his true voice lives. He doesn’t have all the answers to growing kids, but he’s eager to share with you what he has learned, along the way.
Wendy Iscove graduated with a B.S. in Nursing and Master of Arts in Education. She served as a coach for Galef Institute, integrating arts in Pre-K-12 classrooms. Iscove also taught for over 32 years, teaching dierently-challenged students, as well. She has the pleasure of being a parent herself. Please visit HTGKids.com.