Can Moms Have It All? Real Dads Respond

Can Moms Have It All? Real Dads Respond

One age-old question has been in the news a lot lately: When a woman has a child, can she have "it all"? In other words, can she have that fancy corporate job and quality time with her children?

As this piece in The Atlantic by Anne-Marie Slaughter puts it, "I still strongly believe that women can 'have it all' (and that men can, too) ... But not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured."

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The issue was reignited last week when Yahoo named Marissa Mayer as its new CEO the same week she announced her first pregnancy (and the fact she's planning to take only a few weeks' maternity leave and work throughout it). Suddenly the question became, "Will Mayer have it all?"

For obvious reasons, a lot of women have chimed in on the debate. But with the constant emphasis on how this affects women ("No one would even be asking that if Marissa Mayer were a man!"), we were curious--what do men think?

Below, four dads answer the question: "Do you think women can really have it all?"

"We Don't Always Get to Do Everything We Want."

altName: Anthony
Age:
 
26
Location: Annapolis, MD
Profession: 
NASA Systems Administrator
Child's Age: 
1 month

Do you think women can have it all?
No, but men can't either. There will always be something out of balance at any given time. Why should any one person have it all? There's no point in living if you truly achieve it all. Women and men are in the same boat, it's just that women have it more difficult if they're mothers because they've spent nine months growing a child and creating a bond that no one else has. That makes her time away that much harder.

Do you think dads struggle with the same work-life questions that women do?
Yes, but making work-life decisions comes more naturally to a woman because of the time she spends actually carrying a child. As a father, all I could do was take care of my wife, knowing that she was taking care of our unborn child. Our thought processes are different because a woman has carried that child and has a special bond that a father can only hope to get close to.

How does this issue play out in your own marriage?
I do everything I can for my wife and child, and my wife does the same. She works as a project manager at a construction company. We don't always get to do everything we want ... but we make each other happy and compromise on things to better one another.

What did you feel while reading the article in The Atlantic?
The intro was all about this one particular woman ... and she has money and all these great things that I know most women and men wish they had. From there I was biased, and I just couldn't relate to her struggle.

"Men and Women Can Balance Career and Family."

alt

Name: Doonam
Age:
 40
Location: New York, NY
Profession: Psychiatrist
Child's Age: 3 years

Do you think women can have it all? 
I believe that with the right partner, workable compromises, a supportive work environment and a lot of effort, both men and women can balance having a successful career and raising a family. However, if "having it all" means trying to complete twice the amount of work (i.e. career and child rearing), in half the amount of time to do both, I do not think that women (or men for that matter) can have it "all," nor should they want it. Being a good parent is difficult. Having a successful career is difficult. Combining the two does not create a harmonious and balanced blend unless significant compromises are made.

Do you think dads struggle with the same work-life questions that women do?
There are plenty of male examples of high striving professionals who attain pinnacle work achievements, but they also have weight gain, gray hairs, heart attacks, midlife crises, divorces, resentful sons and daughters and shortened lifespans to show for it.

How does this issue play out in your own marriage?
Before the birth of our son, G, my wife and I worked long hours. After G arrived, I found myself setting limits with my time and schedule in ways I didn't realize I could, or even wanted to, before. I left my job at the hospital, I no longer scheduled work activities on Saturdays and I reduced the number of evenings I came home after 8 p.m. Before G was born, my wife struggled to decide if she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom or remain at her job. In the end, after her maternity leave she arranged to return to work part-time so she could work and have time with our son. She realized that staying at her job made her a better mother and more appreciative of her parenthood.

What did you feel while reading this article?
The author was able to have it "all," albeit for a limited period of time, but she did not sound happy, healthy or fulfilled. It's my opinion that she also would not have been able to maintain it in a healthy or enjoyable way. All I know is that I surprised even myself to discover that rather than further pursue higher academic achievement, I prefer to focus on the care of my patients, the ongoing teamwork with my wife and seeing my son before he goes to bed most nights of the week.

"Putting Kids in Daycare Can Be Unfair."

alt

Name: Luke*
Age:
 25
Location: Memphis, TN
Profession: Law student
Child's age:
 3 months

Do you think women can have it all?
If by "all" you mean climbing the heights of the professional ladder and mothering to the best of their abilities (especially with young children), my answer is a resounding no. Perhaps I'm a dinosaur, but I've always thought God (or nature) assigned distinct roles to the sexes. Women, by nature, are nurturing. Men are providers. This of course doesn't hold true for every person, but I believe almost everyone feels that instinct.

Do you think dads struggle with the same work-life questions that women do? 
Yes, but not as much.

How does this issue play out in your own marriage?
We always thought my wife would stay home and I would work when we had a child. Since our daughter was a surprise and I'm still in school, it hasn't worked out that way. It's been tough to adjust, but when I get a job we will revert to that model.

What did you feel while reading this article?
Sympathetic. I think it's absurd that society (through third-wave feminism) places pressure on women to achieve enormous success both inside and outside the home. Isn't it unfair to children to be shoved in daycare from birth because neither parent (especially the mother, who has natural advantages) chose to sacrifice a career? Of course, if two incomes are necessary, I suppose that's the only option. It does seem selfish, though, for women to climb the ladder at the expense of more emotionally healthy children. Plus, isn't it more rewarding to raise a child than chase a career dream?

"Something Ends Up Taking a Back Seat."

altName: Edgar
Age:
 36
Location: Rockville, MD
Profession: Information Security Professional
Children's Ages: 4 years and 9 months

Do you think women can have it all?
The perfect work-life balance can be very difficult to achieve, and even harder to maintain. Over the course of time, I believe something ends up taking a backseat ... whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Do you think dads struggle with the same work-life questions that women do?
I do think dads struggle with these same kinds of work-life questions, no doubt. I'm at the office for ten hours a day, and many times I leave home early and come home late. I recently took on a whole new set of duties at work, on top of my old duties, and the workload is high. Eventually, I hope that my office hours come down to a more manageable level, because right now I'm not sure how I could spend more time at home.

How does this issue play out in your own marriage?
My wife is a stay-at-home mom, so she's always with the kids, but she does need my help, especially because she does photography on the weekends. For me, work-life balance tools, like teleworking, don't help because I still need to put in the hours, and the family tends to need me when I'm home. If my wife and I were both working full-time jobs, the kids would be in daycare, and we'd miss a large part of their lives. At least we're lucky enough to get by on one income so my wife can stay home and not miss them growing up.

What did you feel while reading this article?
The article brings up a couple of good points about how to achieve more of a work-life balance, if things are done a certain way. I felt it was useful in showing that there's hope ... for all of us.

What do you think? Can moms have it all? Are you surprised by anything these dads had to say? 

*Indicates that name has been changed.

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