I’m traveling with my son, which means I’m reading USA Today, which is distributed liberally throughout hotels in the US.
I usually love USA Today. It’s like eye candy with all the photos and it’s nice that I get the same paper no matter what city we’re visiting. My favorite spot in the paper is the upper right-hand corner because it’s got celebrity news. I must be typical of all women because today there’s a women can have it all article in that corner.
Of course, the women who read this paper are traveling, so it’s likely that they’ll love that article because it’s likely they are leaving kids at home and they want to feel like it’s a good decision.
I am not so felicitous with my decisions. I am traveling with one boy, for a cello seminar, and I have one boy at home with my husband, and I am torn. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea.
What I am sure about, though, is that I can’t make things better by being a good time manager. Which is what the women in the article talk about. They talk about how they can “have it all” because they can “outsource everything,” they can “micromanage school schedules” from Bangladesh, they run the families like they run companies—“efficiently”.
But people who stay home with kids all day know that life is unpredictable, always-changing, and not goal oriented. There is no way to fix this with good time management because kids are not such clearly defined projects, and kids want you, not you managing them. Kids just want to be with their parents. Whereas projects and teams want to be managed. In business, the presence of the CEO for no apparent reason is unnerving. In the land of kids, the presence of the parent for no apparent reason is normal. It’s what feels good.
So managing time is impossible—the benefits of being present for the kids is unlimited. There is no project end-game.
So it insults me that women say they can have it all just by being good time managers. The implication is that women who do not have big jobs are not as good at time management. But time management is not always about projects and goals. Often, time management is about priorities, and a good time manager is someone who stares at the wall waiting for the kids to start fighting.