How many times have you asked a fellow mom how she juggles it all? I know I’ve asked it quite a few times — especially when I was making the transition from being a stay-at-home mom to a working mom. I wanted to know how other moms did it. So I asked them how they still got their laundry done, kept food on the table, and remembered to keep their bikini line somewhat respectable.
Surely, there must be a method to the madness, so we go straight to the source: powerhouse moms who make it look easy.
I could sit here and say it was silly I never asked any of the dads I knew who worked outside the home how they balanced career, family and self-care — after all, they were homeowners with families who held down a full-time job too, so shouldn’t we be asking them how it’s done?
But we don’t ask, and here’s why — because the expectation to “balance it all” falls on a woman. And we all know it.
It is the mom who is expected to get the kids ready for the dace recital regardless of having worked a 60-hour week.
It is the mom who makes sure the entire family has everything they need for a vacation.
It is the mom who is expected not to let things slide at work, and not to let things slide at home.
Still, everything is going to slide sometimes because that is life as a parent and as a mom who is “balanced” (whatever that means).
But why does the expectation fall on moms?
Because we do it, that’s why.
Is it fair?
No, but neither are chin hairs and periods, but we handle them anyway. Like a motherfucking boss.
In Quartz, Kate Ryder, mother and CEO of Maven a digital health company, talks about the subject openly with her husband. Ryder says she is asked about how she handles “work-life balance” at least once a week. Her husband, Lee, an executive at Google who “changes as many diapers as I do,” she says, is never asked that question.
And the reason? Lee thinks it’s because “there is an overall expectation that the burden of raising children falls primarily to women.”
I’ve never heard anyone ask a man how he does it all. I’ve never known a man to be questioned about any type of work-life balance.
But women study the shit out of work-life balance because they know if they don’t master these skills there is a shit-ton of stuff that is going to go ignored, forgotten, and neglected. And when everything falls apart, it will be up to them to pick up the pieces.
I’ve always thought this is why moms carry around a kind of deep exhaustion they can’t explain and sleep won’t fix — because they know if they don’t do something (and most often those somethings go unnoticed), it just doesn’t get done and the whole hive will come undone.
That’s a big load to haul around with you. Throw in a job outside of being the maid, chef, chauffeur, and doer of all things on top of that, and you a have a women who has a brain that never stops worrying about how she is going to get it all done.
But somehow we do — the stuff that matters, anyway.
Yes, there needs to be a shift in gender dynamics, but until then, moms of the world will keep struggling to get this thing we call work-life balance right, because we are badasses like that.