“Having It All” Then and Now

Anna and Nadia were staying with me last weekend. The main reason was “All kids’ birthday,” but we were also hoping to spend some time together and to do some girls stuff. Which we did, and while the girls were here I was thinking (as I usually do in such cases) about how much parenting had changed since the time I had small children.

It’s also worth noting that I was in the process of listening to the audiobook “All the rage.” In addition to the fact that this book makes you think about gender inequality at home like never before, there was something else.

I always use my own life as an example of “you can have it all.” I used to say that if you plan everything carefully and can distinguish important things from unimportant, you can be a successful parent and a successful professional. And I still believe it is true, but it depends on how you define a successful parent.

Anna’s husband John has being a primary caregiver from the first days of Nadia’s life, and now, when he has to travel a lot for work, Anna can really feel his absence. She says that she can’t imagine how it was for me with two toddlers. I always joke that it takes practice, but the fact is that I did way less than she does now. I would often leave them to scream, not even trying to console or to figure out what’s the matter because there were things that had to be done. I would never be in the situation of “dinner was late because the child was upset and didn’t let me cook.” I would just cook. 

Now that I think about this, all my parenting of my younger children was in a survival mode. At least until they were about eight or nine years old. I was by no means neglecting them, but I just didn’t have that time to do “what normal parents are doing.” I never sat by their beds until they were asleep, not because I thought that it is a pedagogically bad idea, but because I didn’t have time to act differently. The kids had to understand that we are a team, striving to achieve a better life. And they did.

I think that all my children turned out great. And not just me:), everybody who knows them thinks that way. But it was not because I did something special. Life presented challenges, and we would overcome them together. I do not know whether the same outcome can be reproduced at the time of peace. 

Back to my daughter and all the books about parenting. I did way less stuff with my kids when they were small. Way less than Anna. And I do not think I will be able to combine that amount of parenting with intense work. But I am still not sure it’s a must for successful parenting

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