"People told me, 'You can do it all. Just stay the course, get your education and you can raise a child, stay thin, be in shape, love your man, look good and raise healthy children.' That was a lie."
Now there's a girl after my own heart.
That statement was made by Michelle Obama during a campaign fund raising appearance near Austin, Texas for her husband, Barak. According to an article this week in The LATimes, Ms. Obama's recent remarks received "emphatic nods" and "rueful laughter" from her mostly female audience.
That's because that mostly female audience was made up of women like me, who have been saying the same thing for years now, but only to each other. Now, Michelle Obama is blazing a trail as mythbuster for my generation of women, taking the issue out of America's kitchens and cubicles, and putting it on the campaign trail.
But you don't have to be republican or democrat to understand the point Ms. Obama was making. "I don't know about you, but as a mother, wife, professional, campaign wife, whatever it is that's on my plate, I'm drowning. And nobody's talking about these issues. In my adult lifetime, I felt duped," Ms. Obama admits.
The "Have It All" myth started with women of my generation. We grew up believing, thanks in part to that famous 70's Enjoli perfume commercial featuring a woman in a yellow dress with matching kitchenware, that we could "bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let her husband forget he was a man." Then we entered the workforce in growing numbers...had kids...went back into the workforce...and realized the lie we were living and in some cases, preaching.
As Joan Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law at Hastings Coillege of Law here in San Francisco told The Times, the Obamas "capture absolutely perfectly what's going on with their generation."
Nearly a year ago, I wrote a blog about how deep the debate, often condescendingly called "The Mommy Wars," goes in this country. It fills thousands of blogs and sells millions of books. At that time, I wrote that much of the alleged "war" is over the choices we make in life, and how we deal with those choices, and how we deal with others who have made different choices.
I still believe that. But I've also come to realize that this issue also has a lot to do with class, race and income as well. As Maya Rupert recently wrote in an Op-Ed in The SFChronicle, a "vast majority of mothers are being excluded from the conversation." They are women who are working class, low-income and single mothers - who don't have a choice about "doing it all." They just have to do it to survive.
I admire Michelle Obama for bringing up this issue on the campaign trail, but I'd like to see her broaden her stump speech to include not only "the haves," but also "the have-nots." And although there's little that can be done politically about a social and cultural issue like this, maybe just having this conversation, when a lot of people are listening, will help us all find that balance we so desperately seek.
A girl can dream, can't she.....
Where do you stand on "having it all?" Let your voice be heard, by clicking below on "Comments" and joining the conversation.