Squawk Radio

Friday, April 21, 2006

Lisa on "Brought home the bacon, but I'm too tired to fry it. And I can't find the pan." (originally published 11/7/05

Dear friends,

Some men complain nowadays about the ambiguity of their modern roles and how difficult it is for them to be sensitive and manly at the same time, and whether or not they should open a door for a woman. I think they have a real gripe--it's always confusing when a person has to balance what appear to be conflicting roles. But is a man's new-age dilemma any more difficult than being a working woman, or a mom, or God help us, a working mom? I’ve been blessed with a job that allows me to stay at home with the kids. Although this sounds great on the surface, combining work and kids at home is sort of like that volcano experiment where you mix vinegar and baking soda. Something is going to explode, and there’s going to be a mess. And we know who’s going to have to clean it up.

This leads into a big question, followed by a few more :

Do we have it all? Have we given up on having it all? Who should make it easier for us if we do try to have it all? How do you make the decision, and how do you keep from regretting it later? Are you happy with the choices you've made so far?

Do you remember that commercial back in the 70’s . . . “I can bring home the bacon . . . fry it up in the pan . . . and never ever let you forget you’re a man . . . “ I was just entering my teen years, and it was impressed on me by society that I was supposed to successfully juggle a career and family, and also be a sexpot in the bedroom. Pretty high standards! I personally don’t know a single woman who has ever managed all that without some pain and sacrifice. Thank God husbands help more nowadays than they used to, or at least they know they’re supposed to. (If only they helped as much as they think they do. I read a study once in which the husbands who claimed they did fully 50 percent of the housework, really only did about 10 percent. But they honestly thought it was 50.)

I’ve also read recently in a provocative NYT piece by Maureen Dowd, that a large number of women in their 20s have given up the notion of having it all, considering it to be an impractical, even unworkable idea. I don't know if this is true. I hope it isn't.

I’ve tried to do and have it all, and my husband and children would probably tell you they would have liked more home-cooked meals and more time with me. But they would also say they appreciate that I’ve been happy and fulfilled in my work. (They know I would klonk them with a frying pan if they said otherwise.)

So I’ve ended up wondering . . . are we as women better off doing fewer things and doing them well . . . or trying to have it all, with all the sacrifices, stress and frozen dinners that entails?

Lisa's note: "It seems as if this topic is even hotter than it was a few months ago. Lately the controversy over the difficult choices we women must make has sometimes been labeled "Mommy Wars." The comments on the original blog were warm, honest, funny, and very supportive of each other--I think we all recognized no matter which path you choose, there are sacrifices and challenges we each have to face--and thank God we have our friends to help us get through it. (And a romance novel to take our minds off things is sometimes quite handy!)

FYI, my giveaway is a truly adorable mug with the cover of "Scandal In Spring" one one side, and the word "Wallflower" on the other. If you're like me and need some form of caffeine to start the day, please don't hesitate to sign up for the Bravenet mailing list on the left side of the page!

Lisa Kleypas, 10:18 AM