No sooner did the comments (amazing, amazing comments!) on my last post about working moms start coming in, that I knew a follow-up was in order. Something about this notion of “doing it all.” Because it seems that whether we work out of the home or not, one thing so many of us seem to have in common is this struggle with balance; the feeling that maybe we do too much.
(And God, don’t you hate that expression “juggling?” I wish there were a term that didn’t come from the world of mimes.)
Recently, I was speaking on a panel about moms and mobile technology when an audience member raised his hand to ask how I “do it all.” It was a wildly uncomfortable moment for me (geez, you couldn’t just ask me my favorite app?) and I mumbled something awkward about making the most of every minute, Then I think I said something about waking up really early to write, segued into a self-deprecating quip about not doing everything so well, and made a bad analogy about hourglass sand or something before settling on some point about how it takes a village and my parents are very helpful.
Not my finest public speaking moment.
I’m not insulted when people ask about “doing it all” – I just find it to be a difficult question. Lisse summed it up so well in comments by paraphrasing a brilliant Tina Fey essay in the New Yorker: When you ask a working mom about how she does it all, it either puts her in the position to say something disparaging about herself (check) or deliver an answer that makes the questioner feel somehow inadequate for doing less.
Thank you Tina Fey. I kees you.
Frankly, I don’t do it all nor do I want to. I’m sure I do more than some and less than others; there’s great comfort in that middle section of the bell curve. I also find solace in the fact that I won’t be busy forever. There are times for productivity and times for rest. Times for input and times for output. There were times in my life when I sat around and played Spades on Yahoo for hours on end. I just don’t have that luxury right now.
Those of us who are visibly busy I think at times give a false impression of togetherness that’s rather unfortunate and unattainable. You don’t see my trainwreck of a bedroom. (Well, some people have. And they’ve been sworn to secrecy.) You don’t see the dishes in my sink or the scary, scary things under my couch. You don’t see my overdue bills or the crud under my keyboard or the lightbulb that’s been out for three weeks in the closet. You don’t see when my toenail polish is chipping and when you do see that I’m way overdue for some hair color, thankfully you don’t mention it.
We busy people, we prioritize. We make concessions.
I don’t read the New Yorker articles my mother flags, rips out, and places right in my hand insisting READ THIS NOW, or I’d have written about that Tina Fey piece a month ago.
I don’t exercise. It’s been four years since I’ve been to a gym. I do however climb a million subway steps every day. I also own a lot of Spanx.
I don’t go to every pediatric visit. I’ve already been skewered about that on Babble, so no need to do it here.
I don’t do the laundry. God bless my sitter. I have also given up on the pile of Nate’s clothes that grows in the bedroom like a fungus. In fact I don’t make cleaning much of a priority any more, which is why I do not throw a lot of dinner parties either. Clear a place on the floor! We’ll throw down a blanket and make it a picnic! just doesn’t sound all that inviting.
I don’t cook much. Definitely not eggs.
I don’t feed the homeless, foster rescue animals, host benefits, endure walkathons, chair volunteer committees. Although I did drunk bid at our preschool auction last week and end up with a very expensive drum lesson for Thalia.
I don’t RSVP yes as often as I RSVP maybe.
I don’t look at my Google reader. In fact, it kind of scares me to think about.
I don’t write hand-written thank you notes. Hooray for Paperless Post, and a culture that’s increasingly accepting of rude behavior.
(Thanks Kelly for the suggestion. Phew, that was liberating.)
Do people think you do it all? What are the things you “do it all-ers” don’t do?
Thank you for including this post in Five-Star Friday, Schmutzie.