Aaron Gouveia thinks parents are setting the bar too high, and that real happiness is having enough.
Ever since Anne-Marie Slaughter posited “Women Can’t Have It All” in 2012, every group out there has been asking themselves if they do/can have it all. Including parents.
Can moms have it all? Can dads have it all? Can working parents have it all? Can stay-at-home parents have it all? Can all the kids of parents trying to have it all possibly end up having it all themselves? Frankly, between talk of “having it all” and “leaning in,” I’m a little put out. I mean hey, I appreciate quality discourse as much as the next guy, but have you really stopped to think about the question of having it all and what it is we’re really asking?
I did. And I believe merely entertaining the notion that we can possibly have it all is arrogance of the highest order.
Spoiler alert—the answer is no. As a parent, you can’t have it all.
Mainly because having it all means you’re an unmitigated success in every area of your life. As a working dad, I can tell you maintaining a 100% success and satisfaction rate at work AND at home is like hopping on the back of a unicorn to chase down the leprechauns who made off with your pot of gold. It ain’t happening.
Success at work means putting in the hours. Unfortunately, the same can be said of successful parenting. But those who put their noses to the grindstone to climb the corporate ladder often sacrifice time with family to do so. Likewise, working parents who make a concerted effort to be present on the home front often have to forgo the extra hours required to secure that raise or promotion.
Oh, and don’t forget to work on your marriage, go to the gym once in a while, and maintain your friendships as well. I’m no math whiz, but that’s a lot to get done when you only have 24 hours in a day.
Having it all. It’s such a perfectly American idea isn’t it? Getting upset because we’re doing well but we don’t have EVERYTHING?! That’s why I’m advocating a new idea—focus on having enough.
If I worried about having it all and judged myself by that ridiculously unattainable standard, I’d be forever disappointed. My salary is essential to our family’s survival at the moment, so I know I have to put in the hours at work. However, I’ve also made a conscious decision that in order to see my kids and wife enough, I’m pretty much forsaking the fast track to being a high-powered executive.
That doesn’t mean I’m lazy or unambitious at work—far from it. I work damn hard at my job. But I’m not going to put myself in a position where I miss all the baseball games, the recitals, and the general face time all parents need with their kids.
I’m doing enough at work. I’m doing enough at home. Neither situation is perfect and I certainly don’t have it all, but I have enough. I’m trying my best—as I believe most parents in similar situations are—and I refuse to risk making myself feel terrible over the fact that some isn’t good enough simply because it’s not ALL.
Life as a parent is tough and it pulls us in a million different directions, so don’t let unrealistic standards make you feel like a failure. If you’re doing good enough, you’re doing all you can.
This post first appeared on Daddy Files
Image: Flickr/Rob Boudon