still marinating

26 Jun

Not gonna lie, it took me from Thursday until this morning to finally finish this article that many of my female and male colleagues alike have been stewing over–and I still only managed to gloss over some of the sections.  This afternoon’s project is a hopefully more than cursory glance at this response and Sandberg’s speech.  I’m still gathering my thoughts, but I wanted to share a short passage I appreciated (in part due to my interest in palliative care)–not novel, by any means, but it rings true:

Seeking out a more balanced life is not a women’s issue; balance would be better for us all. Bronnie Ware, an Australian blogger who worked for years in palliative care and is the author of the 2011 book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, writes that the regret she heard most often was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” The second-most-common regret was “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” She writes: “This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.”

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10 Responses to “still marinating”

  1. Melissa June 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Maybe I am rushing in where angels fear to tread, but I’m 56, a mother of four and grandmother of two (going on four), and I worked full-time for 30 years, so I think I’m entitled. Anyway, here’s the thing. You cannot have it all equally. Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. Something is going to be more important than something else in your life. And that’s fine.

    Not everybody will be a captain of industry. Not everybody will be a terrific parent. In fact, not everybody will be either one. And that’s just the way it is.

    Even if you drive yourself passionately to achieve wildly at work, you may not get very far. And you may not find a career in any case; you may just have a job. That’s fine. Not everybody can be a star at work. There should be a whole lot more rank-and-file workers than managers.

    You’re going to make mistakes at work and at home. They’re going to cost you. That’s the way it is, too. Since when are you perfect?

    That being said, yes, balance is good. We need more of it. But the chances are that nobody is going to *give* it to you; you’re going to have to figure out yourself how to have more of it. Someone else will always demand that you be better at your job, whatever it is, and you’re always going to want more space for whatever else is in your life. Go easy on yourself. Don’t be so Type A about it. Or if you are, fine, be Type A and choose ruthlessly, ignoring calls for balance in your own life. Make your own choices and make them with your eyes open.

    I’m not mad. I’m just trying to sound off in a space where somebody might listen.

    • Jacob June 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      This…is just a great comment. I’m torn between admiring Sandberg for what she’s accomplished, and disliking the tension (and absolute disparity) between her message/example and what *most* people can actually, realistically attain given their circumstances and talents.

      • annaojesus July 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

        Good point! Thanks for commenting!

    • annaojesus July 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      Hi Melissa,

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment! Sorry for the delay on my part…just getting back into the swing of things now that vacation is coming to a close :/

      First of all, I think it’s incredible that you worked full-time while raising 4 (awesome, considering 2/4 to be presentative of the other 2 🙂 ) children. And congratulations on the two expected new grandchildren!

      I agree with you…it’s kind of a scary reality about growing up, right? I think about how much my life has narrowed in some ways when compared to what it was a decade ago, when I felt so “balanced” with a mixture of school, paid work, music, sports, service, etc. But then it’s also expanded in other ways: my role in a family has shifted to that of a much more active participant, intimately involved in it’s shaping and survival; my relationships (both professional and personal) are more profound; although I’m no longer earning any income (and spending way more on my education), I’m learning a trade that, I hope, will one day contribute to the greater scheme of things. It’s a tough act and, ultimately, I think I’ve made the decision that it’s more important to see my husband on occasion than be at the top of my class, and I have to believe that I’ll still be a good doctor at the end of my training–I hope I’m not kidding myself.

      Although Slaughter touches on this in her article, the message was contradicted by the title: as you put it, it’s not so much that women still can’t have it all but that NO ONE can have it all. I think one of her points is just that, as women, the last couple generations have been the recipients of a lot of pressure (not just encouragement) that we should and MUST have it all, and inability indicates either a lack of dedication or laziness rather than prioritization…at least that was my interpretation.

      I like your observation that we need to figure out the whole balance thing for ourselves, that no one is going to give it to us. That’s a responsibility we should take more seriously.

      Thank you again!!!

  2. Toni Lupro June 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    Every male patient — WOW.

  3. Rosalie June 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    I haven’t read the article, but I listened to her Fresh Air interview last week and really appreciated it.

    Then today, I overheard my boss citing it and claiming the thesis was “people need to understand that there are tradeoffs and you can’t have everything at work and at home – even this big shot feminist says so” (paraphrasing). It really got on my nerves because I think her takeaway was much more along the lines of “you can’t have everything at work and at home right now, they way the system is currently set up.

    Her suggestion wasn’t “women need to lower lower their expectations;” it was “here are some things employers are really going to need to do going forward” (flexible hours when possible being a major one.)

    PS, hi Anna! Long time no see 🙂

    • annaojesus July 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

      Hi Rosalie! How are you doing? Thanks so much for the shout-out…it has been a long time! I hope you’re well!

      I heard about the interview…in general, I think the comments regarding it were more positive than the article. Your point is certainly well-taken, and I agree with you. Slaughter makes specific suggestions for changes, some of which I think are quite possible (it’s a little embarrassing that we don’t already have more flexibly working hours).

      Your boss’s comments would have annoyed me as well. This is not in his/her defense, but to me one of the problems with the article was its length and complexity…like she tried to hit on too many big issues on one go and I think her message(s) therefore became a bit muddled. I think your interpretation is absolutely accurate, but I also got the impression that she was saying, “Very few people (men and women alike) can have it all. When they can, it’s under very specific instances. If women CHOOSE to spend some of their time focusing on family ahead, or even at the same level, as their career, they should not be admonished as being weak or lazy, as not adequately working toward the goals that have not yet fully been realized by women of previous generations (as was asserted in Sandberg speech).”

      Thanks so much!!

  4. E June 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    You know what I don’t like about this article? Men also benefit from family-friendly policy! Obviously, men can’t make babies and so they are not forced to make the same decisions regarding family as women. But the focus in this article very much suggests that family-friendly policies are ONLY good for women, and that viewpoint that it is is detrimental to men and women alike.

    My fiance works in the corporate world, and I can’t tell you how many conversations we’ve had along these lines. It’s not great for a woman to take long maternity leave, etc in his workplace. But it’s almost unheard-of for a man to do it, and a man who takes time off for family will be viewed more negatively than a woman doing the same.

    In my opinion, it’s pretty ridiculous to have such a single-minded focus on how these policies are needed for women. Men and women can never be entirely equal in this regard because, again, women are forced to take time off to actually pop out their babies. But it would be better for both men and women if family-friendly policies were really FAMILY-friendly and not just WOMAN-friendly, and this article entirely misses that point.

    • annaojesus July 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

      I couldn’t agree with you more on this point–it’s one of my greatest frustrations with this country, it’s simply backward thinking.

      Did you know that in Denmark standard maternity/paternity leave is ONE YEAR!!! Working partners can split the time in a number of different ways (I’m not sure if they can both take it at the same time), and I know it’s not uncommon for the woman to take a few months, and then the man to take a few. It’s not considered detrimental for men to take paternity leave and, I believe, in some instances, it’s actively encouraged. The stigma attached to taking paternity leave, when it’s even available, in the U.S. is an embarrassment.

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