Having it All…? or Had Enough?

My husband and son spent a few days recently visiting Christian colleges. After one tour, my husband called me and shared a rather odd experience.

“We were standing in a group of 20-30 high school students with the college tour guide, who was also a student. She began her announcements, then launched into the demographics of the school. One of the things she said struck me as out of place. ‘Our enrollment boasts 57% women and 43% men. Go GIRLS!’ she squealed. After receiving cheers from many, she then continued with the other information about the school,” he said.

“It was odd,” he continued. “Not just in fun, but like a serious “us versus them” thing. If I did that with black versus white, or Hispanic versus Asian, it would be appalling. Like, ‘Go Blacks!’ or ‘Go Asians!’ Who talks like that? It’s offensive,” he wondered aloud.

What I find interesting in this exchange is how very pervasive the culture is – even with Christian kids in a Christian college. It seems the pendulum has swung once again from the time of oppressed women to oppressed men. I suggest that both ideologies are incorrect. I know too many men who have been passed over for promotions because they were the wrong skin color, age, or gender. And yesterday, on the front page of USA Today, a woman named, Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, and leader at Facebook® insists that women really can have it all – a successful career and children.

Having been an executive in two corporations, I respectfully disagree with this assertion. I would also humbly suggest that the last thing women in America need is another woman executive suggesting we all spend more time and energy trying to “have it all.” While it is true that women earn 77 cents for every $1 a man earns according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, it is also true that there are legitimate reasons for the difference. Even the US Government Accountability Office states that they “cannot determine whether this remaining difference is due to discrimination or other factors that may affect earnings. For example, some experts said that some women trade off career advancement or higher earnings for a job that offers flexibility to manage work and family responsibilities.” I personally know many women who quietly left middle management jobs when their careers changed to motherhood. I was one who left a full time executive job for a part time training position with flexible hours so I could raise my children.

While it was a fabulous job that I loved, I guarantee you even if I had stayed, I would not die wishing I had spent more time at work.

Sandberg complains that the feminist movement has stalled, and calls her book a “manifesto.” She insists that women can have it all – career and family, and at age 43, she is the mother of two and an executive with Facebook®. And for what it is worth, if your standards for quality of relationships are low, you probably can have it all, especially if you have the money to pay someone else to raise your children while you work.

I might be wrong about this, but it’s been my experience that quality time doesn’t always just happen when it is scheduled – it seems like it’s been found in the midst of the quantity of time you spend together.

Please know I understand what it is like to have a great job, and children at the same time. I also know what it is like to be a single woman who has to work to support herself while going to college. Add to that the stress of providing for children and I couldn’t even imagine. What we have to be careful about as women, however, is the notion that our self-worth is tied to the amount of money we make, the level of education we’ve achieved, or the position we hold in a company.

The other thing we have to be careful about is living above our means to impress other people whose opinions really shouldn’t even matter.

I am blessed in that when my husband and I married, after emptying our bank accounts, holding a garage sale and literally digging through the couch cushions to come up with enough for a down payment on an 800 square foot house, we lived off of his income alone. Even though we were not planning on having children any time soon, we came to agreement that his income should be the one that supported us so that when/if we had kids, I could stay home and raise them. We agreed upon this fully and it made a ton of difference in our financial situation and gave me the freedom to go from full time to part time work when we did start having kids. Even if you are just starting now, might I suggest Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University? It’s awesome and will get you on track.

Someone needs to tell you that it’s okay to have a small house, drive used cars, wear consignment clothing, and NOT own a $150 purse or a smart phone. Someone needs to say aloud that Motherhood is a worthy profession – one which when done with gusto, transparency, gobs of reading, legit conversations, apology, forgiveness, fun, TIME, and serious intervention of the Holy Spirit, can result in relationships with teenagers and young adults that are anything but rebellious and gloriously rewarding.

We do NOT have to worship money, prestige, power or position. 

Who is on your throne?

Someone needs to warn the college girls thinking they need to prove to themselves and others that they are “better” than men that there is no such thing. We work fewer hours than men because we work part time more than they do, take more sick days than they do, and we are the ones wanting to get our kids when the school calls and someone’s thrown up or has a fever. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics 2011 report reveals the additional fact that we work fewer hours on an average day than men do.

And as a professional woman, one who worked very hard to get where I was, I find it insulting to suggest that I should receive something I have not earned, so no, I don’t want legislation that regulates how much I get paid in comparison to men. I do NOT want the government (or a company) to hand me something that I haven’t earned. And for the record, there are just as many disrespectful snarky women out there in the work world as there are sexist male chauvinists. I’ve worked with both sides.

I also want to show compassion to the single working mom – she is appearing in the culture in mass, largely due to the high divorce rate and unwed pregnancies. And for the record, I admire these women for choosing to have their babies instead of visiting an abortion clinic. These women are taking on “double the curse” – both Adam’s struggle with hard work to feed his family, and Eve’s pain at child birth. The American Psychological Association reports that stress for women is on the rise – we should not be surprised by this. What I wonder, though is this: What would change in the lives of American families if women stopped trying to measure up to outside standards, and started truly living life for the Audience of One? What if our identity was wrapped up in what God thought of us? What if we taught our daughters and sons this, too? And what if we walked through our marriages as women of strength and dignity, instead of doormats or dominators? Would there be fewer divorces? Fewer out of marriage pregnancies? An end to abortions?

It might just give those college women a chance. Something they failed to consider, with their campus 57% female – for every 3 women, there’s only roughly 2 men. And men are waiting until much later to get married, mainly because they can readily get sex, or so the research shows. Women, on the other hand, want to marry at an increasing rate from years past.

The problem is of course, obvious – the math simply doesn’t work.

So let’s be young women of strength and dignity also – you want to get married, don’t give it away for free. Make him act like an honorable man. If he wants to play like an adult, he needs to behave like one. It’s respectful to yourself, your future husband, and your God.

I know from experience that if we speak the language of respect, it not only changes our marriages, but positively impacts our careers and the salaries we earnright out of college or otherwise.

Dare you to stop looking for oppression and instead BE a person worthy of respect and one who freely treats others with respect. If you want a short example of what that might look like in marriage, check here.

And respect yourself, your kids, and your God enough to do what is right for your family with regards to working for pay outside the home. Stop giving a rip what other people have to say about it.

It changes everything.

Double dog dare you to join us on this journey of becoming women of strength and dignity.

Love to you,

~Nina

Comments

  1. GaNeane Lewis says

    I guess I must be the one to disagree. I do not believe every, single woman is meant to stay at home. I do not have the mentality for a SAHM. I’ve been in the workforce for over 20 years and raised 2 children and I don’t believe they are any less of a person or woman simply because I worked. Granted, not working has NEVER been an option; the article makes it seems like it is just so easy to live on 1 income, when that is not a reality for EVERYONE. My children are now grown and I STILL cannot live on simply my husband’s income. We can’t afford to buy a house, or new cars, so no we are not trying to live above our means, we are just simply trying to LIVE. I think it is demeaning to assume that a woman is making a choice to harm her children if she has no desire to be a SAHM. Staying at home for 6 weeks with a 2 year old and a newborn was long enough for me to realize that this was NOT for me. Articles like this simply reignite the working versus SAH mother debate, and as usual the women who work (either by choice or necessity, or both) are somehow seem as harming our children. I think each person needs to make that choice for themselves…there is no one size fits all for every woman, every marriage, every parenting choice. I don’t believe God only blesses the women and children who are home schooled, only eat organic and never watch TV. Those of us who go to work, sent our children to public school…we are blessed as well. My children are healthy and happy. They didn’t suffer, we didn’t miss precious moments. So yes, I DO feel like I had it all. Am I a high-powered executive? No, I am not, so perhaps that perspective is different. But I work in healthcare, I work very long hours at times, with long on call hours. But I get joy from job, and I also get joy from seeing my children excited about what I do for a living. I know that my personal calling is to help each and every person that enters my operating room. Please don’t diminsh or take away from my very real contribution to the world because I didn’t raise my children at home.

    • Nina Roesner says

      GaNeane –
      I’m really sorry to have offended you. I didn’t mean to take away from you and your contribution to the world, but rather wanted to speak to the many women who feel “less than” because they have chosen to leave the work place, work at home, or work part time. I’ll go back over my post – I don’t recall speaking about homeschooling or organic food and the lack of blessings you mentioned, but I apologize again for the offense. I do challenge the notion of what many Americans consider basic “rights” – most of us have significantly more than those in impoverished nations. I live in a city, and even our homeless have access to food and medical care – and shelter. Many Americans would benefit greatly by learning money management from Dave Ramsey, who teaches how to start with nothing and turn it into a serious retirement. I want to encourage women to do what God has called them to do, and it’s certainly not my place to question His call for you. Again, I’m really sorry for the offense. I know women who have stayed in the work world and their husbands have stayed home with the kids – they are stellar families.
      Love to you,
      ~Nina

      • GaNeane Lewis says

        Of course you didn’t mention those things….they were simply my way of expressing the things that women who have this battle throw at each other. I guess I didn’t see that the point of the article was to support women who have made that choice and might be feeling bad about it. to me it read as a statement that there is a best way to be a mother, and that is at home, only. I don’t often hear how it is a bad thing for a woman to be at home, perhaps because I don’t stay at home. However I DO get a fair share of criticism for not being a SAHM. My apologies for being too sensitive.

  2. Candice says

    Nina,

    I have to tell you, this article really resonates with me… I have definitely been one of those women (and still am kinda) who wants it all, but the more I get into my career and develop a deeper relationship with GOD and with my boyfriend who has expressed to me time and time again that he’d like to start settling down soon, an internal struggle ensues. For starters my job as a reporter has me all over the place. Since I’m just starting out, the norm is to start somewhere small, stay 2 years, move on to a bigger city… and so on. I have worked SO hard to finally get here, but truth be told, it’s not a stable foundation to even THINK about getting married and starting a family. When I think about what has driven me to take this path, besides loving to write and tell stories, I think of how much I never wanted to be ‘beneath’ any man. I feel that society has a way making being a devoted wife and motherhood synonymous with oppression, something that has clung tightly to me since I was a child. In a sense, it sends the message that you must be doing something wrong if all you are is a wife and a mother… Like, that’s it… that’s all you are?? It’s only now, at 28 that I feel myself growing stronger in my faith and yearning for a closer relationship with GOD that I have begun to question whether or not it’s worth it. Because honestly, having to balance a high powered career during the day and then be the best wife/mother I could be at the same time, trying to perform at 100% all the time sounds like a lot of STRESS!

    You touched on something very poignant in your article about women measuring their self worth in the careers they have and the amount of money they make. Again, something that I have just recently begun to notice about myself as well. Coincidentally, just yesterday I was talking to my boyfriend on the phone, we were having the ‘marriage talk’ as we always do. The thing that makes me SO anxious about taking that next step is losing my identity as an individual, which I suppose is counter to the whole purpose of joining your life with someone else’s, but there’s such a stigma behind being ‘just so-and-so’s wife’ is there not? I guess the better question is why do so may women, myself included, really care?

    For me, the constant battle is about power and freedom really. The feminist movement has it drilled into our heads that we are equal, on the same level as men and if we don’t work as hard or make the same amount of money, then we aren’t worth anything. However, the deeper I get into my faith, the more I have to acknowledge the hierarchy which GOD has mandated for us. It’s not the easiest pill to swallow, but when I consider how things are ‘supposed’ to be, if the majority of us women could be ok with ‘letting’ a man provide for us, then maybe we wouldn’t find life to feel like such a struggle.

    Thank you for you article, as you can probably tell I am sort of at a cross-roads right now and you have given me a lot to think about. May GOD continue to bless you and inspire your thoughts and words for women in need of guidance.

    • Nina Roesner says

      Candice –
      I think so many women (including myself) are wired to find offense and oppression in the slightest things – we’ve become overly sensitive as a gender – I have worked both part-time and full time, and am thankful for the deep relationships that being with my children has provided both them and me and my husband. I could be satisfied with much less, perhaps, if I had nothing to compare it to, but having a deep relationship with the Father gives me a perspective that I might not otherwise have. Yes, it was work. Yes I hated playing blocks. And no, I never turned into Paula Deen or Martha Stewart, no matter how much I wanted to (for a moment). But at the end of the day, at least right NOW, I have 3 kids who love God, and deep relationships with all of them – and that’s worth the things I “gave up” in that blurry period when the babies showed up. To be perfectly honest, the first four months were complete survival mode and there were moments (with each baby, mind you) that I wondered WHY have we done this again? :) Doing hard things and persevering is what makes faith mature and deep. I am praying for whatever you decide – but whatever you do, don’t make decisions based on fear. That’s that other guy’s calling card. :)
      Love and prayers to you, beautiful!
      ~Nina

  3. says

    “Someone needs to tell you that it’s okay to have a small house, drive used cars, wear consignment clothing, and NOT own a $150 purse or a smart phone. Someone needs to say aloud that Motherhood is a worthy profession – one which when done with gusto, transparency, gobs of reading, legit conversations, apology, forgiveness, fun, TIME, and serious intervention of the Holy Spirit, can result in relationships with teenagers and young adults that are anything but rebellious and gloriously rewarding.
    We do NOT have to worship money, prestige, power or position. ”

    I agree, but so many in the church are just as materialistic as the world. I honestly get angry when I hear that so and so just bought the newest Iphone when the single mom in the next pew had no idea where the next meal is coming from. The church promotes the ‘have it all mentality’ just as much as the word, but they do it subconsciously, or under the guise of ‘being blessed’. I have also heard numerous women, claiming the Proverbs 31 woman saying we are perfectly capable of doing it all.

  4. Rosalyn @ Rosalynpricenglish.com says

    Love these thoughts. I recently went through a time where it looked as though the best option was for me to go back to work. As I attempted to ‘ease’ my son into mom working full time, I realized just how destructive it was for me to divide myself in so many pieces.

    God was faithful, and the situation improved so that I did not have to work out. I do run two small businesses of my own, but they do not require me to take time away from my family.

    It is sad that the art of ‘housewifery’ is so maligned. As our current economic climate continues to decline, I pray that more and more women discover the absolute necessity in learning to be productive not in the workplace but in their own homes.

    Great article Nina. As usual, you nailed it.

    • Nina Roesner says

      :) God is really good, Rosalyn, and I know you know that. :)
      And I’m so glad you were able to work out your situation for His glory.
      Love to you,
      ~Nina

  5. Amanda Flores says

    And men are waiting until much later to get married, mainly because they can readily get sex.

    So let’s be young women of strength and dignity also – you want to get married, don’t give it away for free. 

    Oh my gosh!!! You nailed it right on girl!!!!!! Your wording is Awesome!
    May I suggest drlaura.com she is great!!

  6. Heidi says

    I so agree with EVERYTHING you just said. I believe if more woman stayed home and raised their kids it would have a huge impact on society. I believe there would be less divorces because their would be less stress in the home when the wives are holding down the fort and the husband is providing for that fort. Kids would be healthier, their would be less unemployed men and I believe this is how God ordained it. I am a woman who has had to work outside the home and am a single woman living a married life (I posted earlier about my struggles and want to thank everyone for their encouraging words as they are making an impact on me in great ways). I have prayed for my daughters to find husbands who are willing to provide for them so they can stay home and raise their kids. This has happened for my daughter and I consider it the biggest blessing ever. She did not marry a rich man, simply a Christian man who served in the Army and is now trying to make it on the “outside”. They live simply and don’t care how they “measure up”. Society makes mom’s feel like staying how is so “old school” and unimportant when it is the most important and hardest job their is. I have done both and it is much easier to get away to an office. I know a lot of woman don’t have a choice these days, but I do know there are certainly many more woman who could stay home and they could also be the ones to help woman who are forced to work and lighten their load. Our kids are suffering because of the “have it all” mentality and overall this is causing more suffering in our country by unhealthy kids who aren’t being raised properly. It makes me so sad! Thanks for the great blog Nina! I wish more people could read it! God Bless you!

  7. leahgwen says

    :) Thanks for this. I feel like this is a constant struggle for young women who don’t know what to when they find out they’re pregnant and feel like they HAVE to work. When I worked outside the home, I often lamented with other mothers when we had to leave our kid at a sitter’s on a special day – a birthday for example. One mom said “May we should have stopped when we got the right to vote. Instead, we’ve have to become “equal” to me including careers. This has FORCED the economy and life styles to rely on 2 incomes and thereby leaves us without a choice of whether or not to work.” While I think you can change how you live to not need 2 incomes, I see where she was coming from and her distress. And it’s all because the Us vs. Them is still out of hand.

Trackbacks

Got thoughts?