I recall the moment as if it were yesterday. It was a hot, August afternoon in New York City and I was in full labor. My first born son was determined that he wasn’t going to make this easy on his mom, as nearly seven hours had passed and he was not even close to making his entry into the world.
As is medical protocol, I was being monitored by physicians and machines and observed by my husband, a first-time parent as well. Although he was nervous, he did more pacing, than he did talking. That is, until his brain sent a signal to his mouth, encouraging him to spit out something idiotic.
As my body was being invaded by another contraction, I let out a scream that could probably be heard in New Jersey. The pain was excruciating, and I was convinced more than ever that I was being punished for something. Something I did as a small child perhaps, as a mouthy teenage girl, or as a college student who routinely challenged professor and classmates. There had to be some reason that I was being subjected to this torture that ultimately would result in the birth of a healthy baby boy. However, at that moment I wasn’t making a reasonable connection. Yet as I screamed for mercy, I heard my husband, who was watching the monitors, that were monitoring me, say, “Why such a loud scream, Jac? I’m watching the graph, and according to what I see, that was a very mild contraction. It couldn’t have hurt that much.”
Maybe it was the look on my face, or maybe he saw a resemblance to Linda Blair in the movie The Exorcist, or maybe it was the look on my doctor’s face as she walked in and overheard his comment, that led him to exit the room rather quickly. I heard my doctor suggest to him that it might be a good idea for him to go and get some air. A walk across the street to the Jamaican restaurant to grab a hot meal and a Red Stripe would allow for there to be some much-needed space between the two of us. Join other soon-to-be dads who had been asked to regain their common sense. He readily accepted the suggestion. Wise move and thank you Dr. C for preventing me from being front page news the next morning –Woman in Labor Snaps and Attacks Opinionated Hubby!
A few weeks after my son’s birth we were able to laugh about the incident, but my husband conceded that would be the last time that he would ever inject his opinion into a woman’s experience. Brilliant man he was.
Over the years since, I’ve witnessed a few men make similar “foot in mouth” faux pas. However, it’s been awhile since I have encountered a level of naïveté, which irked me to the core until I came across recent comments from Kiss bass player and vocalist, Gene Simmons.
As reported by the New York Post, in his new book, On Power: My Journey Through the Corridors of Power and How You Can Get More Power, it’s his opinion that if you’re thinking of being a working mom, think again. “Get over your biological urges,” Simmons said. “It’s natural to want to have kids, but, sorry, you can’t have it both ways. You have to commit to either career or family. It’s very difficult to have both.”
Hmm, clearly he has absolutely no clue about the power of a high-achieving woman. 100% Neanderthal-thinking in effect here, at a minimum.
Difficult? Yes. Impossible? Definitely not! To even come close to suggesting it, is insulting to every woman who is out here making it happen for themselves and their families. Maybe he should network more with a few. There are many women “balancing” it all, who I could introduce him and any other limited-thinking individuals to.
Unfortunately, Simmons’ opinion is not just limited to men. There are some women who also think the same. Is it possible for women to be, do and have it all? This debate will likely never end. At least not in my lifetime.
I believe the narrative is dictated by the individual, as opposed to it being viewed as a collective, across the board way of thinking. However, “having it all” does require a major component and that’s a little four-letter word most women tend to avoid.
If you’re a woman who wants to have it all, here are a few tips on how to increase the likelihood of your success achieving it:
1. Ask For Help
Yes, that’s the four-letter word. Help. Women tend not to ask for help because they think it makes them look weak, less Super Woman in stature. The reality is this — we are not. Super Woman is a fictional character with super powers. As phenomenal as we are, we are and always will be human beings. One of our greatest superpowers is our wisdom and knowledge that asking for and getting help is one of the secrets to having it all.
Yes, absent a reliable support system of friends and family with whom you can barter, it may cost money, and yes, you have to actually step up and ask for it. But it’s the only way to honestly have a shot at having it all.
Because the truth is while you can be, do and have it all, you can’t do it all by yourself. As soon as you own up to that, you can embrace the idea of engaging help to remove tasks from your life that can be delegated to someone else.
This includes things like housework, shuttling kids around or walking the dog. Of course, do those things if you love them and they light you up inside. But my guess is there are a lot of other things you would rather be doing with that time, such as working on your own business or advancing your career.
Asking for and accepting help provides you with the opportunity to have the mental and energetic capacity to go after the things you want for yourself and your family.
And don’t be afraid to get your husband or partner involved more. However, you have to ask. His contributions will generally match what you expect of him. So expect more from him, and he’ll likely deliver more. Now that’s not true in every case, but I think it goes a long way to involve your husband or partner more in taking care of the kids and the household, so you can focus on the things that you also find value in. After all, motherhood is not where dreams go to die.
2. Make Self-Care A Priority
When you’re taking on a whole new level in your life and trying to be, do and have it all, taking care of yourself is a number one priority. That means eating right, moving your body, getting enough sleep and finding ways to relax on a regular basis.
You won’t be able to handle all that you want to be, do and have if you’re not taking care of yourself. Having it all requires far too much energy for a minimally-cared-for version of you. I know it can be difficult, but you won’t have anything to give anyone else if you’re running on empty.
3. Create Your Own Definition of “All”
By far the most important part of “having it all” is defining what that means for you. It will be different for everyone, and that’s OK. Define what it means to you and then live by that. Don’t worry about what “having it all” means for someone else.
When you look at having it all from this perspective, it really shows you what’s possible.
Can we be, do and have it all? Absolutely! Will there be hiccups along the way that may require us to alter our plans temporarily? Without a doubt.
But don’t throw in the towel. Never, ever give up what you set your head and heart out to achieve. If motherhood is something you desire, never ask for “directions” or take advice from or give much credence to opinions of someone who has never been on the journey that you will have to explore.
Women who desire to be moms have every right to go after what it is that they want to be and do outside of motherhood. They’re not just limited to being the Mom that society expects them to be. It never has to be an either-or scenario, unless that is their personal choice.
Women around the world are successfully redefining the concept of “working mother.” Now to find a muzzle for the uninformed, inexperienced among us who seem to believe otherwise. I believe that’s linked to another concept called, “staying in one’s lane.”0