Trying to “Have it All” and Feeling Guilty About it, Too

by Samantha on March 12, 2011

When I started this blog recently, my first post was about the quest that many women go on in order to “have it all.”

What exactly does that mean?

Well, for the most part, it means that all the pieces are in place, everything from the perfect home being perfect, and the perfect career continuing in its perfection. Oh, let’s not mention the kids. These children in this wonderful world are supposed to never cry, whine, spit up, throw up, or otherwise irritate or annoy said moms in this scenario.

Provided that all of these pieces are in place, one could safely say that they “have it all.”

Image courtesy of www.anolitasmind.com

Cut to reality.

A more likely scenario is as follows:

  • The home is a mess, or let’s say “lived in” by a real family that has its share of dirty dishes and dirty clothes waiting to be washed, despite their best intentions;
  • Children are crying. Or whining. Or pooping. Or all three. Lots. In unison (this is especially the case when twins are in the picture)
  • Parents are tired, crabby and curt with each other due to the sheer lack of sleep, exhaustion and demands of every day life   

A recent study revealed that for the most part, women feel more guilty than men about the intrusions of work demands into the realm of their home lives. I wrote about the study on Technorati; the article can be found here.

Does this really come as a surprise?

We moms are pretty sensitive when it comes to the sanctity of our home, however disorganized and chaotic it may be (and I know this sounds like a contradiction, but bear with me here).

Our crazy home lives may be just that: crazy. But it is our crazy and heaven help any interruptions into our little world, however haphazard. Unfortunately, in this digital world where we are connected 24/7, it is inevitable that our work commitments will seep into our family time. The nine-to-five workday is more uncommon than not these days.

Which leads us back to the study.

Men were found to be significantly less bothered by work intrusions on their home lives. Why is this? While there is no definitive answer, I would venture to guess that it is likely due to how we are hard-wired. I’ll go out on a limb to say that women in general are more negatively affected by disruptions in their family lives due to their inherent feelings of responsibility to how the household is run. In other words, we may get the glory when we seem to have the picture perfect family and home life, but we are also the first to get the blame when house and home seem chaotic.

I could be wrong, though.

What do you think?

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    { 36 comments… read them below or add one }

    Holly Ann March 12, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I think you are absolutely right. While many men are becoming more…domestic…if you will, the pressure from society still often falls on the moms. Even though I am not the one staying home with my kids, I still feel like I need to accomplish everything I would if I were a stay-at-home mom. I realize how terribly irrational this is, but that doesn't change it unfortunately.

    Reply

    Holly Ann March 12, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I think you are absolutely right. While many men are becoming more…domestic…if you will, the pressure from society still often falls on the moms. Even though I am not the one staying home with my kids, I still feel like I need to accomplish everything I would if I were a stay-at-home mom. I realize how terribly irrational this is, but that doesn't change it unfortunately.

    Reply

    Samantha March 12, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    @Holly Ann I agree, Holly. I also have an irrational expectation that I can accomplish everything that needs to be done regarding my home life, in spite of putting in a full day of work at the office. This expectation is common amongst many female friends as well. We all know that it is not realistic but we put pressure on ourselves nonetheless. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, I think!

    Reply

    Samantha March 12, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    @Holly Ann I agree, Holly. I also have an irrational expectation that I can accomplish everything that needs to be done regarding my home life, in spite of putting in a full day of work at the office. This expectation is common amongst many female friends as well. We all know that it is not realistic but we put pressure on ourselves nonetheless. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, I think!

    Reply

    Shelley (EvenAndy) March 12, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    I am a stay at home mom to 2 (26 and 6 month old) and I design stationery online. I long for a nanny, housekeeper, cook almost daily. I try to keep it all together but the good thing is that my husband understands. He is great in that he does the laundry and cooks dinner most nights:) It is a hard expectation to try to have it all in a tidy package.

    Reply

    Shelley (EvenAndy) March 12, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    I am a stay at home mom to 2 (26 and 6 month old) and I design stationery online. I long for a nanny, housekeeper, cook almost daily. I try to keep it all together but the good thing is that my husband understands. He is great in that he does the laundry and cooks dinner most nights:) It is a hard expectation to try to have it all in a tidy package.

    Reply

    Samantha March 13, 2011 at 1:08 am

    @Shelley (EvenAndy)Hi Shelley,
    It would be great to have a nanny, housekeeper and cook – I too long for them as well! Working and family don't always mix and it's often a balancing act.
    That's great that your husband takes on some of the chores as I'm sure it's a relief, especially when you're busy.
    Thanks for commenting :)

    Reply

    Samantha March 13, 2011 at 1:08 am

    @Shelley (EvenAndy)Hi Shelley,
    It would be great to have a nanny, housekeeper and cook – I too long for them as well! Working and family don't always mix and it's often a balancing act.
    That's great that your husband takes on some of the chores as I'm sure it's a relief, especially when you're busy.
    Thanks for commenting :)

    Reply

    The Redhead Riter March 13, 2011 at 2:06 am

    “Men were found to be significantly less bothered by work intrusions on their home lives. Why is this?” They are the cavemen-hunter-gatherers, so providing for the family and the pride of being recognized at work is extremely important.

    Whereas, my home is MY HOME and it is “my work” even if I have a job in the outside world too. Everything in it reflects me and I don't want to be bothered when I'm leaning over the tub scrubbing it or have half my body in the refrigerator cleaning out the left over science projects that used to be dinner :o)

    Reply

    The Redhead Riter March 13, 2011 at 2:06 am

    “Men were found to be significantly less bothered by work intrusions on their home lives. Why is this?” They are the cavemen-hunter-gatherers, so providing for the family and the pride of being recognized at work is extremely important.

    Whereas, my home is MY HOME and it is “my work” even if I have a job in the outside world too. Everything in it reflects me and I don't want to be bothered when I'm leaning over the tub scrubbing it or have half my body in the refrigerator cleaning out the left over science projects that used to be dinner :o)

    Reply

    Samantha March 13, 2011 at 3:23 am

    @The Redhead RiterVery, VERY succinctly said. I think you hit the nail on the head about home also being a woman's work(in her own mind)…even if she works externally as well.
    Thanks for your very astute observation.

    Reply

    Samantha March 13, 2011 at 3:23 am

    @The Redhead RiterVery, VERY succinctly said. I think you hit the nail on the head about home also being a woman's work(in her own mind)…even if she works externally as well.
    Thanks for your very astute observation.

    Reply

    Melanie March 13, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I definitely have a hard time separately work from life. I wish everything could all be perfectly organized and balanced all the time – but, let's face it…if one part of your life is going well, usually it means the other is in shambles.

    The way we are always plugged in makes it hard to disconnect from our different worlds.

    Reply

    Melanie March 13, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I definitely have a hard time separately work from life. I wish everything could all be perfectly organized and balanced all the time – but, let's face it…if one part of your life is going well, usually it means the other is in shambles.

    The way we are always plugged in makes it hard to disconnect from our different worlds.

    Reply

    Samantha March 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    @Melanie

    Agreed, Melanie. As much as technology has helped us and makes life easier in some ways, it's a double-edged sword. No longer can we “turn off” at the end of the workday. The lines between work and home are blurred and I don't think we'll ever go back to how things were years ago. I guess we just have to adapt and if we have to, let things slide sometimes.
    Thanks for your comment!

    Reply

    Samantha March 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    @Melanie

    Agreed, Melanie. As much as technology has helped us and makes life easier in some ways, it's a double-edged sword. No longer can we “turn off” at the end of the workday. The lines between work and home are blurred and I don't think we'll ever go back to how things were years ago. I guess we just have to adapt and if we have to, let things slide sometimes.
    Thanks for your comment!

    Reply

    Angela Livingston March 13, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    One of the books I'm reading, This is Not How I Thought it Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today by Kristin Maschka, deals with just that. It's a really great book. Basically as women have gotten more independence and respect we've added more and more on our plate without taking anything off. We have such unrealistic expectations of ourselves while having very little expectations of our men. Our husbands let us try and do everything because they believe we are best at it and if we needed help we'd ask. I've been really working on asking for help and letting go of the idea that I'm responsible for making the world turn.

    Anyway, great post! Welcome to Social Moms, I'm really looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    Angela
    http://www.hotmomtips.com

    Reply

    Angela Livingston March 13, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    One of the books I'm reading, This is Not How I Thought it Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today by Kristin Maschka, deals with just that. It's a really great book. Basically as women have gotten more independence and respect we've added more and more on our plate without taking anything off. We have such unrealistic expectations of ourselves while having very little expectations of our men. Our husbands let us try and do everything because they believe we are best at it and if we needed help we'd ask. I've been really working on asking for help and letting go of the idea that I'm responsible for making the world turn.

    Anyway, great post! Welcome to Social Moms, I'm really looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    Angela
    http://www.hotmomtips.com

    Reply

    Samantha March 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    @Angela Livingston
    Hi Angela,
    Thanks for your comment. The book sounds really interesting, I'll have to check it out.
    Agreed that we tend to feel responsible for the household as women, as realistic or unrealistic as that may be. Not sure what the solution is to this tendency as it's more common than not. Perhaps taking a step back every time we feel we have to “fix” something, or make the house otherwise perfect.
    A hard thing to do but necessary nonetheless.
    Samantha

    Reply

    Samantha March 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    @Angela Livingston
    Hi Angela,
    Thanks for your comment. The book sounds really interesting, I'll have to check it out.
    Agreed that we tend to feel responsible for the household as women, as realistic or unrealistic as that may be. Not sure what the solution is to this tendency as it's more common than not. Perhaps taking a step back every time we feel we have to “fix” something, or make the house otherwise perfect.
    A hard thing to do but necessary nonetheless.
    Samantha

    Reply

    Skiba March 14, 2011 at 3:04 am

    It is funny, when I was a kid and my dad would induldge in his uninteruped ritual of getting ready for work, with his fresh pressed clothes and awesome lunch all courtesy of my mother's hard work,I always thought -I want to be just like my dad. He seemed to have it good or at least way better than my mom who worked endlessly and thanklessly doing all cooking and running the household. In those days, being the primary breadwinner automatically garnered you respect and pampering. Today the world is a much different and more complicated place. I and my spouse both work full time and endure all the stress and responsibility that my father had, but unfortunately we do not have anyone to assist or pamper us. I often wonder how did I get saddled with both the household drudgery and the demanding job? Is this what you are refering to as having it all? Yikes! I am not sure this is what I was signed up for and is there anyway to cancel my subscripton?

    Reply

    Skiba March 14, 2011 at 3:04 am

    It is funny, when I was a kid and my dad would induldge in his uninteruped ritual of getting ready for work, with his fresh pressed clothes and awesome lunch all courtesy of my mother's hard work,I always thought -I want to be just like my dad. He seemed to have it good or at least way better than my mom who worked endlessly and thanklessly doing all cooking and running the household. In those days, being the primary breadwinner automatically garnered you respect and pampering. Today the world is a much different and more complicated place. I and my spouse both work full time and endure all the stress and responsibility that my father had, but unfortunately we do not have anyone to assist or pamper us. I often wonder how did I get saddled with both the household drudgery and the demanding job? Is this what you are refering to as having it all? Yikes! I am not sure this is what I was signed up for and is there anyway to cancel my subscripton?

    Reply

    Samantha March 14, 2011 at 3:14 am

    @Skiba I think you hit the nail on the head – the fact that very often, both parents are working outside the home and therefore the household is not upkept during the day – the way it was when it was common for moms to stay home.

    Now life seems to be much more stressful and fast-paced, with little time to get even the basic things done, such as grocery shopping or laundry. The pile of clothes, dishes, etc., mixed in with the hectic reality of work and 24/7 access courtesy of technology is enough to make anyone beyond stressed.

    Not sure what the solution is, short of running away and not turning back. Realizing of course that this isn't really a solution, either.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Reply

    Samantha March 14, 2011 at 3:14 am

    @Skiba I think you hit the nail on the head – the fact that very often, both parents are working outside the home and therefore the household is not upkept during the day – the way it was when it was common for moms to stay home.

    Now life seems to be much more stressful and fast-paced, with little time to get even the basic things done, such as grocery shopping or laundry. The pile of clothes, dishes, etc., mixed in with the hectic reality of work and 24/7 access courtesy of technology is enough to make anyone beyond stressed.

    Not sure what the solution is, short of running away and not turning back. Realizing of course that this isn't really a solution, either.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Reply

    Skiba March 14, 2011 at 3:42 am

    You are right. There is no way to run or hide from it all. We are all locked into a lifetime contract with no golden parachute clause. All we can do is laugh about it together. Thanks for providing us with a venue to do so.

    Reply

    Skiba March 14, 2011 at 3:42 am

    You are right. There is no way to run or hide from it all. We are all locked into a lifetime contract with no golden parachute clause. All we can do is laugh about it together. Thanks for providing us with a venue to do so.

    Reply

    Sonia March 14, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I know the feeling. My man is still looking for work and I have to carry the load for us both. I work 12 hr days and then home to work on my blog. It never ends, but I just take one day at a time knowing that my hard work will pay off. You can have it all, but it depends on what your “all” is. My all is just having a job and a healthy family and my bills paid off. I have (2) off that list and working on the last one. Great post.

    Reply

    Sonia March 14, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I know the feeling. My man is still looking for work and I have to carry the load for us both. I work 12 hr days and then home to work on my blog. It never ends, but I just take one day at a time knowing that my hard work will pay off. You can have it all, but it depends on what your “all” is. My all is just having a job and a healthy family and my bills paid off. I have (2) off that list and working on the last one. Great post.

    Reply

    Kim March 15, 2011 at 3:16 am

    Hi,
    I am laughing. I was reading this post thinking, wow, that is synchronicity or something, because I just saw an article about this on technoratti.

    Looks like we are sharing the same venue. :)
    I gave up trying to do it all, because I realized I can't. Period.

    Great to meet you!

    Kim
    http://www.confabulicious.com

    Reply

    Kim March 15, 2011 at 3:16 am

    Hi,
    I am laughing. I was reading this post thinking, wow, that is synchronicity or something, because I just saw an article about this on technoratti.

    Looks like we are sharing the same venue. :)
    I gave up trying to do it all, because I realized I can't. Period.

    Great to meet you!

    Kim
    http://www.confabulicious.com

    Reply

    Samantha March 15, 2011 at 4:01 am

    @Skiba It is my pleasure! Makes it easier to endure when you know you're not the only one!

    Reply

    Samantha March 15, 2011 at 4:01 am

    @Skiba It is my pleasure! Makes it easier to endure when you know you're not the only one!

    Reply

    Samantha March 15, 2011 at 4:05 am

    @Sonia
    Hi Sonia,
    Sounds like you have it all under control as well as a great attitude about it as well :)
    You're right – realizing what's important makes one put things in perspective, making us aware that it may be hard now but it's not forever. The kids grow up, we move on to new jobs and life will get easier. It's hard when you're “in the trenches” but knowing that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and that you have your priorities in order really makes a difference.

    Thanks for you post!

    Reply

    Samantha March 15, 2011 at 4:05 am

    @Sonia
    Hi Sonia,
    Sounds like you have it all under control as well as a great attitude about it as well :)
    You're right – realizing what's important makes one put things in perspective, making us aware that it may be hard now but it's not forever. The kids grow up, we move on to new jobs and life will get easier. It's hard when you're “in the trenches” but knowing that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and that you have your priorities in order really makes a difference.

    Thanks for you post!

    Reply

    Samantha March 15, 2011 at 4:08 am

    @Kim
    Hi Kim,
    Not sure if you saw this but I wrote about this on Technorati: http://bit.ly/ibjrVH
    Perhaps this was what you read?

    Either way, the fact of the matter is that we do feel guilty as women. We try to have it all and realize that that dream is not realistic. We do the best we can and keep moving…that's all you can do.

    Realizing that you can't do it all is liberating, I'm sure. Now I just have to convince myself…

    Thanks for your comment :)

    Reply

    Samantha March 15, 2011 at 4:08 am

    @Kim
    Hi Kim,
    Not sure if you saw this but I wrote about this on Technorati: http://bit.ly/ibjrVH
    Perhaps this was what you read?

    Either way, the fact of the matter is that we do feel guilty as women. We try to have it all and realize that that dream is not realistic. We do the best we can and keep moving…that's all you can do.

    Realizing that you can't do it all is liberating, I'm sure. Now I just have to convince myself…

    Thanks for your comment :)

    Reply

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