There has been some debate about Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi’s comment that women can’t have it all. Any time a powerful woman gets asked about having it all, it becomes news. But doesn’t having it all suggest having a spouse who is sharing it all as Sheryl Sandberg recommends? if women can’t have it all, doesn’t that mean men don’t get it all either? While I understand people complaining that men don’t get asked this question, my response wouldn’t be to stop asking women, it would be to start asking men too. After all, we all could learn from a little perspective and hearing the reality that you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you hear something that helps you figure out what is right for you. So many younger women ask 40-something women, “How do you do it?” We just can’t imagine it because we haven’t gotten their yet.” It could only hep to hear more from how men struggle with it too.
But, I always want to ask…who says having it all is all it’s cracked up to be? Who says that all is better? One of my favorite posts here is by Molly Ford, on “Why Do We Have to Have It All To Be Happy?”
I think Nooyi was simply relating that it is a struggle and that even she struggles with it too. LIfe is not perfect. The reality of being the CEO of a multi-national company and raising two children and being a wife and part of a family….is hard. While having her mom at home with her to help is a huge, it only heightens the tension of ingrained cultural differences. Her mother who came to live here from India tells Indra to leave her crown at the office and remember that when she is home she is a wife, a mother and daughter.
Indra also ells a story of not being able to go to class coffee with her daughter as it was at 9am in the morning. Speaking exactly to the point Anne Marie Slaughter made in the Atlantic piece….“Why Women Can’t Have It All” that sparked the conversation between Nooyi and The Atlantic’s owner, David Bradley to begin with. That our structures are set up to accommodate working mothers or fathers. I wonder how many dad’s made the coffee. And why our workplace couldn’t be flexible enough to make a 9am coffee acceptable every couple of weeks. Or why the school didn’t do the coffee at 8 instead of 9.
So rather than criticize others for what they are doing wrong about doing it all, why not recognize that most likely, CEO of a company or working mom or stay at home mom, we all are probably doing the best we can with what we have. I have to admit I liked best what I caught Kathie Lee Gifford saying on the Today Show about having it all: “Every women is different. What are your priorities? I think women can have it all but they can’t have it all alone.”
Here is what some 40-something women have had to say about having it all on 40;20 Vision:
From a mom who has worked and stayed at home:
“Many women struggle with guilt about leaving their children to work. If working makes you a better, happier person, then there is no reason for guilt. You’re a better parent when you are happy. Is there stress? Absolutely! Cramming laundry, grocery shopping, eating and family time into short evenings and busy weekends is definitely challenging, but you can do it. Plenty of people do this with and without tons of money. If you and your husband remain honest about your goals, honest about your budget and really want to have kids, you will make it work. – 40-something, fashion, design entrepreneur, Brooklyn, NYC
From a single woman:
“My definition of having it all has changed over the years. What I thought I wanted from life in my 20s and where I ended up in my 40s would suggest I didn’t get it all. Yet, I don’t think I could of have planned where I am today any better.
Reality is, the fantasy of what I wanted never aligned with the reality of what it meant and what it would cost to have it. Life throws you curve balls. Assumptions are tested, expectations change and the definition of happiness and having it all evolves. I could not have imagined my current circumstances but I also can’t imagine and wouldn’t want a different life from what I have today. With that said, the desire and motivation to keep moving forward and to aspire for better circumstances has been the common thread throughout. Don’t stop dreaming and wanting. Always believe in yourself and want what you want — not what others impose on you.
To me, having it all today means control over my own destiny, a healthy mind and body that can enjoy and partake in life, peace of mind, living with no regrets, being surrounded by quality supportive loving people, financial stability and enough FU money”. – 40-something, single, executive in financial industry
From a working mom
“Children will thrive under a variety of family settings – two full time working parents, 1 stay at home parent, a mom who works part time, etc. The key is for you to be happy with your choice – and then the child will be fine. “