Over the summer, I had to decline an invitation to be a part of an “expert” parenting panel on Fox and Friends to discuss a few topics including the latest round of the “can working parents have it all” discussion.
So I’ll sum up the thoughts here: the concept of “having it all” is ridiculous!
You can’t have it all. Nobody can and nobody ever has. Even work-from-home parents can’t have it all because they are sacrificing something. Whether it’s missing out on time with their kids because they need to be left alone for a few minutes so they can get some work done (that’s me) or not making as much money because they are at home (that’s me too), there are always trade-offs. My wife is an amazing mom and she would love to spend more time with the family. But she can’t, because she is the bread-winner of the family.
Sacrifices must be made because that’s the nature of the beast. That’s what MongoDB CEO Max Schireson did when he resigned his post this past summer — he cut back on his workload so he could spend more time with his family. That should be commended. Anybody that makes an attempt to spend more time with his kids is OK in my book … and moving down to a lowly VP position will probably not send him to the poor house.
We all make choices about what’s important to us. I would love to have six-pack abs, but I like to sleep instead of going to the gym. I’d like more cash in my pocket, but I’m a stay-at-home dad (my blogger career isn’t exactly rolling in the dough) and I’m not going to stop being a stay-at-home dad. I would have liked to have made it to that Fox and Friends taping, but I chose to root my wife on in her first triathlon instead because that’s what was most important to me and to her.
I guess we need to define what the “all” is that we’re talking about. If it is money, then no, you can’t have it all if you work less to spend more time with your family. If “all” is spending time with your family, then no, you can’t have it all if you need to work for a living. Remember, if you are privileged enough to worry about “having it all,” you are doing better than most. You aren’t wondering where you next meal will come from, whether you’ll be forced to leave your home, or how you’ll handle childcare when next week’s schedule comes out.
Instead of wondering if we can have it all, maybe we should focus more on being content with what we have. Instead of focusing on what we are giving up, focus on what we are gaining. Having it all is impossible, but leading a fulfilled life is not.
A version of this post first appeared on One Good Dad.