Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Women's Week: Can You Have It All?

The Cougar Club: A Novel

     One thing that struck me about the characters of   The Cougar Club: A Novel is that they had very successful career lives, and were, at least in my opinion, with one exception, failures on the personal side.  Can we have it all?  Is the price of a high-powered, high-paying, high-profile job your personal life?  Can a woman expect to be highly successful at the office, and a happily married mother?  Men do it all the time, and often credit the support of their wives as a factor in their success, but many of the successful women you see do not have husbands.  Sarah Palin seems to have it all.  Is she a role model, proof that it can be done, or is she an anomaly, someone setting a standard the normal woman cannot hope to match?  Is Condoleezza Rice, who has never married, more the norm for a successful career woman?  What do you think?  Leave a comment, (remember substantive comments get you a chance to win The Cougar Club: A Novel) giving your views on this subject, or blog about it yourself, and leave me a link.

In my opinion, the main problem with those high-powered, high-paying, high-status jobs is that, for the most part, they are very time-consuming.  I haven't met anyone yet who can be in two places at the same time.  I have a boss who has a daughter the same age as my little one.  There have been several things in which her daughter has been involved that I know she wanted to attend, but she couldn't, because she had something at work that she just couldn't get out of.  I realize there are some lower-class moms who couldn't have afforded to miss work, so would have missed the same events, but I've noticed that those of us in the middle generally are able to arrange our schedules to be there when our kids want us there.  As far as husbands go, I think it is hard to find a man who can both handle a woman being very successful and yet be the kind of man she wants around.  To find a man like that who is willing to be the primary caretaker of children is practically impossible.   So, in general, no I don't think it is possible to have it all, at least for most women.  Looking at the women who have reached the pinnacle of many professions shows a group of women who are single and/or childless in much greater numbers than the men in the same positions.  It's not fair, but it seems to me to be the way it is.


  1. I don't think that Sarah Palin has it all; I think it's what the media wants us to think.
    A woman can't be a highly successful (which is defined by a high salary and prestigious title) and be a super mom as well. I just don't know how one can be there for her family when the job must come first in order to be 'successful."
    I am aware of a divorced mom with schoolage children. She thinks she's doing it all but in reality her coworkers are picking up the slack when she leaves for sick kids, doc appts, school plays, etc..... noone can say anything to the next higher boss or they could face retribution. So to the outside world she has it all... but her colleagues know it's just a fake exterior....

  2. I'm really excited about this novel! I appreciate the way the author chose to devote time to exploring the lives of women in their forties--I'd love to see more books about that.

    I don't think the big story question for either the book or for 40-something women in real life is a dichotomy, though. It's not successful career vs. relationship/family. IMO, it's a question of defining what success means to the individual--knowing that this is going to shift through the years and actually *expecting* it to change.

    What I wanted professionally as a 20-something is different than what I want 2 decades later. I've had to rearrange how I allocate my time with the addition of a husband and child in the same way that I need to re-balance when starting a new, more demanding career. Every year brings for me the responsibility of reassessing where my current priorities are...and I really think both men *and* women have that same responsibility.

  3. I think it depends on what your definition of "having it all" is. Different people want different things. Overall, the government is pretty family-friendly, and if I choose to advance farther, I probably can. I just don't think I want to right now.

  4. Renee makes a great point. It's so hard to be all things to all people, and something's gotta give. "Having it all" is so individual, as Marilyn and Michele mention. We have to do what's best for ourselves (and our families)! There are so many distractions these days, more than when I was growing up, that's for sure! I think we just have to do the best we can and ask for help when we need it. When I hit forty and had a health crisis that knocked me for a loop, I re-set my priorities and realized I can't do it all (at least not all at once). I am trying hard to learn how to slow down a little, really appreciate the good things in my life, and not freak out if I can't get everything on my "to-do" list accomplished in one day (or one week!).


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