So much flack about a woman with a high power government job sounding off about not being able to have it all. As if because she is a person of higher education and influence whether working in the state department, at Princeton, or as a sought-after speaker, she is not entitled to have an opinion. Maybe those of us living in the down and dirty real world can add some street cred to Ann-Marie Slaughter's article on how nearly impossible it is for women to have it all with career and family. 

I am a working mom, although in the interest of full-disclosure, I will admit I have a Master's Degree and a teaching credential. Still, I am most definitely a member of the working class. We struggle to make ends meet and I do not have the luxury of taking a job where I can take off for periods of time. 

When my daughter was first born I took some time off from working full-time. I worked as a sales representative from home for a local parenting newspaper and as a tutor for elementary school children. I had a column in the newspaper for a while and wrote an article or two here and there. I fell in with the local writing community and by some fluke created an art & literature series. Eventually I went back to school to finish the graduate degree I had started before my daughter was born. 

I found I couldn't do it all  and it wasn't nearly as much as Ms. Slaughter did or is still doing. Going to school, working as a tutor in the afternoon/evenings, was difficult enough - but then once I had to start writing my thesis and student teaching on top of working and being a wife and mother, there was no way I could continue the art & lit series that I loved. I put it on hold and still hope to get back to it in some form someday. Wishful thinking, perhaps.  

I suppose I was luckier than Ms. Slaughter because my friends did not seem to be judging me on whether or not I was a working mom. Still, the dilemma affects all of my friends who have children. Those of us who work, wish we could have more latitude in our careers to spend time with our children - as volunteers in their school, during afterschool activities, and the basic quality time that moms who don't work get. 

Even with living in what may be a bubble where I don't have to deal with the judgement of other women, there is always the concern about keeping resumes up to date with current work experience. I know many moms who don't work who are concerned about how this time at home with their children will affect them  in the long run if/when they do decide to get back into the workforce. It seems there is no easy transition for this situation. 

Moms who work have the dilemma of having to time off to attend school meetings and other activities during work hours. With many companies using the PTO model, this cuts into vacation and sick time. Moms who do not work outside the home have to make difficult choices regarding their own careers. Personally, I don't know anyone who 'has it all' at least among moms. I'll have to check with the curiously quiet dads.  

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    August 2012