Tomorrow I am going on a quick work trip to NYC, which I do a few times a month. And lately it seems like practically every week. In fact, last week as I left my usual hotel the door men said they would see me next week, the woman at Healthy Gourmet at LaGuardia chastised me for always getting the same snack and the airport garage guys in Miami welcomed me home by name. Yes, too much travel.
Normally I look forward to these trips as my work is very exciting and interesting, I have many friends in NYC and often see my family who are close by in New Jersey, which makes the distance of living in Miami feel not as great. But my kids and husband, dogs and new house are all here in Miami Beach and I was feeling a particular tug of guilt leaving my daughter this time. And even more so, she was really missing her grandparents. So on a whim, I decided two days of school is not really much to miss in the grand scheme of things and used some of my miles to get my daughter a ticket to come with me. While I work she can be with her grandparents and we get to spend a little extra quality time together. And we are even flying first class. (I really do have a lot of miles!)
To me, this is having it all. Doing my job, being a mom and getting to see my family. Showing my daughter the value of hard work and having some fun together.
The concept of whether women can have it all is a question that has been asked many times in many ways over the years. Whether highly educated women can have it all, most particularly whether they must choose between work and motherhood was really brought to light by Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique.
"Gradually, without seeing it clearly for quite a while, I came to realize that something is very wrong with the way American women are trying to live their lives today,'' Ms. Friedan wrote in the preface. ''I sensed it first as a question mark in my own life, as a wife and mother of three small children, half-guiltily, and therefore half-heartedly, almost in spite of myself, using my abilities and education in work that took me away from home.''
It's funny because I think of this as something that has mostly changed and while many of us figure out how much we should Lean In, we work. Of course, living in such a wealthy city I know many women who don't work by choice but that did not make it any less surprising when I went to an event recently with my four best friends from University of Miami and found that out of the five of us, I am the only one that has a career.
The conversation of whether women should work or stay home and raise their children really came into debate when Ann Marie Slaughter wrote the article "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" in June of 2012. Both the backlash and the agreement by many were overwhelming and once again this topic was on the forefront of the nation's mind. Without a true resolution.
When I was growing up there was a commercial on TV for Charlie perfume. The jingle said, "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never forget you're a man, because I am a woman".
Once again, the concept of having or in this case doing and being it all.
It's certainly not a new concept. In fact Helen Gurley Brown, the long time editor of Cosmopolitan, and one of the original working girl's mentors even wrote a book called "Having It All" which Lena Dunham, writer, director and the creator of HBO's Girls, references in the introduction to her new book Not That Kind of Girl. Dunham then goes on to say about herself: "I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches of that struggle."
Having it all to Betty Friedan, Helen Gurley Brown and Lena Dunham, all important voices of their generations, may look a lot different from what having it all means to you and me. Or it may look pretty much the same. So, can we have it all - this question that has been on so many women's minds for the last 50 years?
I interviewed Amy Palmer, Founder and CEO of PowerwomenTV in Cannes in June and our discussion turned to whether women can have it all - she says absolutely not. Ultimately I both agree and disagree. I agree that it is utterly impossible to live up to all the standards, hopes and dreams we put on ourselves all at one time and we have been ingrained to believe are important and necessary. But I do think that women can have it all in their lifetime - although probably not at the same time. I also believe that there is another, healthier and doable way to look at having it all and that is to ask yourself this one question: What does having it all look like to me? (Guess what -- it probably does not look like what you thought it would!)
This really translates into this: What are the things that are most important to me? And once you truly understand what your version of having it all is -- then you can focus on making it happen.
Just like I will be doing tomorrow when my daughter and I take a quick trip to NYC.