Anne-Marie Slaughter caused a national debate when her piece, "Why Women Still Can't Have it All," was recently published in the Atlantic Monthly. The piece argued that while progress has been made over the decades, career-minded women still find themselves struggling to achieve a balanced life that includes work and motherhood.
Denitza Dennis is one working mother who admits she does, in fact, have it all. She has a job that she loves and is still able to spend quality time with her husband and two children on a daily basis. Surprisingly, Denitza works at a place that may seem unlikely to allow employees to strike a work-family balance.
Denitza is a aerialist, who performs daring spins and acrobatic maneuvers with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. She admits that performing in the circus has been extremely rewarding and feels she has the perfect work-life balance.
"The circus has been wonderful for having a family," Denitza said. "We are all home together and I never have to leave my kids to travel."
Denitza has two children, Maddie, 7 years old, and a son, Brooks, who is 3. Denitza is married to James Dennis, the travelling show's general manager.
Ringling Bros. travels with a nursery and school every day the performers are on the road. Certified teachers and assistants teach all Ringling employee's children using a standard home school method of teaching. All kids -- from those of the performers to the concession stand workers -- attend school.
"It's an ideal situation," said Denitza. "When my act is over, I go see my kids in the nursery. I can give them a kiss before going back to work."
Denitza is a fourth-generation circus performer. She thrills audiences every day as part of the motorcycle highwire act, where the vehicle races up the cable at a speed of more than 30 miles per hour. She was trained in the art of acrobatics in her home country of Bulgaria. She came to the United States and has been performing with Ringling for 14 years.
Daughter Maddie loves watching her mother perform and recently began training in the acrobatics as well. For Maddie, travelling with the circus has given her a unique perspective.
"My favorite thing is travelling and going to so many places," said Maddie. "I love going to school and seeing the country... and having all my friends with me all the time. We're a big family from all over the world."
Denitza admits that working as a circus performer is hard work, especially being on the road for nearly 11 months. But what makes it all worthwhile is the fact that she can do the job she loves while having her family with her at all times.
"I get to have lunch with my husband and kids every day," Denitza said. And it's not just her kids and husband that makes Denitza feel she has it all. The Dennis' also travel with the family dog in tow.
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