Monday, April 11, 2011


“We can do it all!”
          The battle cry of women in my generation that resounded through our homes and schools. My parents insisted that their daughters go to college because that would give us a level of independence from men. Both had witnessed wives who put up with emotional and physical abuse from husbands because these women had no education or job skills. The message I received from my parents (and this was in the 1960s and 1970s) was “be able to support yourself.”
          Added to their message came the “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby” campaign. My role as a woman shifted beyond marriage, children, and homemaking. I could do anything. Not only could I do anything, but I could do it all!
          Yes. I could have a successful career, happy marriage, 2.5 kids, and a three bedroom house in the burbs.
          What a wonderful pitch, too. Many of my friends believed that we could do it all.
          And we did.
          We went after college degrees, executive positions, or medical practices. We married (some of us sooner, others later) and started our families. We juggled pushing the limits at work with nursing ill children. We set high standards for ourselves, and when we reached those goals, we raised the bar higher.
           But have we had success? I’m not certain. Half of my friends have divorced their husbands. They’ve relied on babysitters and daycare to raise their children. In their fifties now, they worry about spending the rest of their lives alone. The half that remained married? They fret over lost years with their children. Many seem to be trying to make up the play time they lost with their children by spending more time with their grandchildren. And all of us complain of our everlasting fatigue. We’re tired. We’ve been tired for decades.
          I wouldn’t want to go back and change the choices I made because that would change the tapestry of my life too much. But I’d love to tell this next generation of women that they need to be careful of their choices. You can do it all, but you cannot do it all well. Something gets lost—marriage, children, or even a part of yourself—as you struggle to design the pattern of your life.    

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

No comments:

Post a Comment