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Balancing Relationship and Career

Is the Woman Who Does It All an Unhealthy Ideal?

Buzz just got ahold of the new trailer for I Don't Know How She Does It, a film adaptation of Allison Pearson's book by the same name, starring Sarah Jessica Parker. The movie's got a great cast (Christina Hendricks and Busy Philipps, to name a couple), and it looks pretty funny and heartwarming — almost what we'd imagine Carrie Bradshaw's life might be like a few years down the line from where we last left her, juggling a loving husband, small children, and a successful career.

SJP's character is frantic and harried, focusing on everyone else's needs above her own, and at one point the trailer asks, "How do you keep life together, without losing it?" But that got us thinking: maybe we should be asking a different question altogether. That is, not just if a woman can have it all, but whether that's even what she should strive for. The idea of a "superwoman" who can juggle an unbelievable number of responsibilities without dropping a single ball is unrealistic, and in some cases, maybe even unhealthy.

I haven't read the Pearson book the movie is based on, so this isn't a spoiler, but we certainly get the impression from the trailer that SJP's character really can't have it all, and will have to let something go in the end. And while that seems like a reasonable compromise to reach, I get the sense that we're supposed to feel regret and pity that she couldn't, actually, do it all.

What do you think? Is the idea of the woman who does it all actually a myth, perpetuating an unhealthy ideal? Or are plots like these simply acknowledging the reality of many women's lives in a funny and touching way?

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xxstardust xxstardust 4 years
I think that "doing it all" is subjective - it depends on what you're doing, if you can do it all. Some career paths make it easier - I want to be a teacher, for instance; I've always wanted to teach because I love learning and I love kids, but being a teacher carries the added bonus (for me, at least) of being a job that's very compatible with being a mother. The hours are the same as my kids' school hours, vacation times are the same, etc - it makes "doing it all" more accessible. If I wanted a different career, though - something that required more time at the office or on call, say, to be a lawyer - I'm not sure how simply that could be done. There are only so many hours in the day, you know?
EvieJ EvieJ 4 years
@Anonymous: I was 30 when I got married and 38 when I had my daughter. It is definitely possible to do what you want to do before you start a family. I wish more women realized this and didn't rush into marriage and kids. I wasn't ready to even think about kids until I was 35 - and it did take 3 years, but we had a non-IVF pregnancy, so it is possible. And not everyone is stay-at-home-mom material - I'm sure not, and it makes me happier - and therefore my daughter happier - to have me doing what I love.
missmaryb missmaryb 4 years
I'm a single mom and I definitely feel the pressure to do everything and do it perfectly. And you know what happens? My kids suffer because I get crabby and overwhelmed. I'm really working on prioritizing and learning to let go of the need to be a superwoman and a supermom. It's tough though.
totygoliguez totygoliguez 4 years
I think that it is important to ask for help. If you have kids and both of you work, expect your husband to helpnaround the house and with the children.
lickety-split lickety-split 4 years
I feel a huge amount of stress to do really, really well at the things I care about. So I feel like being a good mom has become be an AMAZING mom. Every meal needs to look like a Bon Appitie cover, etc. But since I never really had any interest in having a job, I don't work, dOnt have any desire to and feel zero stress about it. I have trends who put lots of energy into their careers, and take out dinner is just fine a their house. Our society makes everything a competition, and now it's not enough to bake a cake from a box (thank yOu cake boss). What ever you do, you have excell at. Interestingly enough, I don't think men have this same pressure.
lickety-split lickety-split 4 years
I feel a huge amount of stress to do really, really well at the things I care about. So I feel like being a good mom has become be an AMAZING mom. Every meal needs to look like a Bon Appitie cover, etc.But since I never really had any interest in having a job, I don't work, dOnt have any desire to and feel zero stress about it. I have trends who put lots of energy into their careers, and take out dinner is just fine a their house.Our society makes everything a competition, and now it's not enough to bake a cake from a box (thank yOu cake boss). What ever you do, you have excell at. Interestingly enough, I don't think men have this same pressure.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 4 years
I know some people who are very very close to just being good at it all (one of them my mother), and I enjoy hearing about their lives, because it motivates me. I currently don't feel like I'm doing a lot of things right (there's a lot of procrastination and false priorities), so having someone to look up to and inspire me and reevaluate the things that are important to me is incredibly helpful. It gives me direction. This may sound silly, but one of the people I admire highly is Ree Drummond, who writes the Pioneer Woman blog: http://thepioneerwoman.com/She and her husband own a huge farm, she homeschools her kids, runs this blog, is a photographer and a hundred other things on top of that. From what it looks like, money isn't an issue for them, which helps, I'm certain. One time she wrote an entry about how people ask her a lot how she all does it and she explained that this perfect impression is created because of course she only writes about the things that go well on her blog. If she mentioned everything in her life that wasn't okay, people would probably lose interest.Anyway, it improves my mood when I feel overwhelmed and then tell myself that other people manage to do the same PLUS so much more. I don't generally agree with homeschooling, but I can't help but respect someone who has their kids home all day and has to prepare classes and still lives so much. To sum it up: Everyone knows that even the most perfect human beings have things about them that they would like to change, but there's nothing wrong with being inspired by someone who is in control of their life like that. We will all always have friends who are more accomplished, and others who wish they were as accomplished as us.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 4 years
I know some people who are very very close to just being good at it all (one of them my mother), and I enjoy hearing about their lives, because it motivates me. I currently don't feel like I'm doing a lot of things right (there's a lot of procrastination and false priorities), so having someone to look up to and inspire me and reevaluate the things that are important to me is incredibly helpful. It gives me direction. This may sound silly, but one of the people I admire highly is Ree Drummond, who writes the Pioneer Woman blog: http://thepioneerwoman.com/ She and her husband own a huge farm, she homeschools her kids, runs this blog, is a photographer and a hundred other things on top of that. From what it looks like, money isn't an issue for them, which helps, I'm certain. One time she wrote an entry about how people ask her a lot how she all does it and she explained that this perfect impression is created because of course she only writes about the things that go well on her blog. If she mentioned everything in her life that wasn't okay, people would probably lose interest. Anyway, it improves my mood when I feel overwhelmed and then tell myself that other people manage to do the same PLUS so much more. I don't generally agree with homeschooling, but I can't help but respect someone who has their kids home all day and has to prepare classes and still lives so much. To sum it up: Everyone knows that even the most perfect human beings have things about them that they would like to change, but there's nothing wrong with being inspired by someone who is in control of their life like that. We will all always have friends who are more accomplished, and others who wish they were as accomplished as us.
EvieJ EvieJ 4 years
Stephley's right. Nobody can do everything. It's impossible. The woman who is so pulled together and with it at work might have piles of laundry stashed under her bed. The woman with the perfect house might be miles behind at work. I think once a woman has kids, that needs to be the focus. I work outside of the home - with a demanding job - but when I walk in the door, it's about my girl. Laundry? It can wait. Freshly prepared from scratch dinner on the table every night, pfft. Fabulous times with my daughter doing lots of fun things, abso-freaking-lutely. If it means my carpets aren't vacuumed, so what?
EvieJ EvieJ 4 years
Stephley's right. Nobody can do everything. It's impossible. The woman who is so pulled together and with it at work might have piles of laundry stashed under her bed. The woman with the perfect house might be miles behind at work. I think once a woman has kids, that needs to be the focus. I work outside of the home - with a demanding job - but when I walk in the door, it's about my girl. Laundry? It can wait. Freshly prepared from scratch dinner on the table every night, pfft. Fabulous times with my daughter doing lots of fun things, abso-freaking-lutely. If it means my carpets aren't vacuumed, so what?
stephley stephley 4 years
Anyone I know who claims they ‘do it all’ is willing to sacrifice some quality in one or two areas, actually has help, or is an accident looking for a place to happen.I don’t think it’s healthy to try to be all things to all people but a lot of women still are trapped in the illusion that we should be.
stephley stephley 4 years
Anyone I know who claims they ‘do it all’ is willing to sacrifice some quality in one or two areas, actually has help, or is an accident looking for a place to happen. I don’t think it’s healthy to try to be all things to all people but a lot of women still are trapped in the illusion that we should be.
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