While the media puts heavy focus on equal pay, workplace advancement and getting a seat at the table — all things which are needed — there is a whole subculture of women who actually want something more, their lives back.
I dare to say if you ask a woman which she would prefer, a raise or an extra 30 minutes of “me time” each day, she would choose the solitude. A promotion or a “calm, more peaceful existence,” she would choose the latter. A seat at the table or a renewed connection with her significant other, she would opt for the connection.
With women making strides in workplace advancement and 40 percent of us the family breadwinner, it seems we’ve lost sight of what matters most — the pursuit of happiness. A generation of women was sold the myth that we can have it all. Decades later and knee-deep in the quest, many are facing the fact that it’s simply not true and that price of having it all is too high.
From loveless marriages to declining health and even worse, a complete loss of self, women have become numb to their lives.That is until you confront them with it: Sit with a woman and ask her to evaluate her life, from the 9-5 job, after-school activities, homework, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry and the volunteer work she’s doing — not to mention her marriage — and she will break down in tears in a matter of minutes.
Why? Because they’ve become numb to their lives and gone on auto-pilot.
I’m certain this blog will elicit angry commentary, but it’s time women are given a voice outside the board room. Am I saying that women should quit their jobs and stay home barefoot and pregnant? Of course not. I own two companies — so clearly that’s the last thing I want. What I do want is for women to be honest about the toll that working two full time jobs — both career and motherhood — is taking on their lives. Rather than pretending everything is picture perfect, we need to start discussing our challenges and coming up with solutions before our daughters follow us down this same joyless path.
It’s not surprising to me that more and more millennials plan to pause their career while starting families; they’ve witnessed the price their mothers have paid in the quest to have it all. For many women, the American dream has become a nightmare and led to a complete loss of self. Our coping mechanism? Going through the motions in attempt to survive.
Once we get honest about the state of our lives, we can enter the board room with ideas and solutions that will address the fact that hey, while we would love to work 50-hour work weeks, attend every client dinner and accept that great promotion; someone has to raise our children. I don’t in any way want to disregard the support men are providing because in truth, they are helping more with the children and household chores than during any other time in history; but women are so brainwashed to believe we have to do it all, to have it all, that in most cases we don’t let the men in our lives help. It’s a vicious cycle, but very real. It’s time we change the mantra from having it all to having your all and redefining the role of the 21st-century woman.
Let me be clear: I don’t have the answers, but I’m in search of them. My goal is to start the conversation — but you have to continue it: Organizations have to stop pretending that men and women are the same and create a better work-life blend — from flextime to virtual office days, increased personal days with or without pay, four day, 40-hour work weeks, to family sick days, because like it or not, our kids do get sick and moms can’t control when; to the possibility of offering a 30-hour work-week. While these are nothing more than ideas, imagine if we all pulled together, both men and women and united in our cry to change business and life as usual for all of us. What if instead of negative comments in this blog people offered out of the box ideas? This is how a movement for change begins. So join the conversation and share your ideas in the comment section of this blog post.
Traci Bild is the author of Get Your Girl Back: Revisit What’s Possible for Your Life.