Postcards From Mommywood: Why Can’t Moms Have it All?
While President Obama manages to balance work and family, his wife, Michelle, had to give up her career.
The day after he won the election, Barack Obama, who probably had more than a few phone calls to make, found time to drop off his kids at school that morning. It was a powerful message telegraphed to the world: My family comes first.
While political commentators debate Obama’s effectiveness as president and critics dissect which campaign promises he’s kept and which have seemingly fallen by the wayside, there is one aspect of his presidency for which he’s received universally high marks – he’s a resounding success as First Father.
A few weeks ago, The New York Times quoted several of the president’s top advisors commenting on how Obama’s schedule revolves around his daughters, Sasha and Malia. According to the report, when he’s in Washington, he “knocks off work at 6 p.m. each evening” for family dinners and has given his schedulers “strict instructions” that anything that comes up in the interim must wait until 8 p.m, “including matters of war.”
Kind of makes your husband’s — or your — excuse about missing your son’s little league game because of work pale by comparison, doesn’t it? If the leader of the free world can find time for band recitals and soccer games, so the argument goes, every working parent should, without penalty, be able to do the same.
But the reality is quite different.
Based solely on anecdotal evidence I’ve gathered from friends and family, there seems to be an increasing number of fathers (including my husband, thankfully) who can and do carve out time for their children, despite having busy careers, without losing any standing at the office. The same is not true for working mothers – at least the ones I know.
From where I sit, while men are applauded just for trying to incorporate their children’s after- school activities into their calendars, my female friends whose every waking second is a herculean juggling act still find themselves coming up short in the eyes of their employers if family life intrudes on professional obligations.