Men Can’t Have It All Either

Back in the summer of 2012, Anne-Marie Slaughter responded to a decision by Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, to severely curtail telecommuting with an article in the Atlantic entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” In Tuesday’s post Nathan wrestled with that issue from the perspective of Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo.

Before I leave for a long weekend visiting my mom in Minneapolis, I want to come at the same topic from another perspective…the man’s. In an article in the Times, “He Hasn’t Had It All Either,” Michael Winerip shares how he and his wife, both journalists, have each had to make difficult choices regarding work and family.

“I, the dad, had to make career “sacrifices” to run the family’s domestic life. And my wife, also a journalist, made those same “sacrifices.” She anchored the first decade; I did the second.”

Winerip says that he put sacrifices in quotations because neither of them really saw raising kids as a true hardship. The sacrifices were more like choices that come in life because no one can do everything. He gave up being an editor and the better salary that came with it so that he could have more control over his work schedule and therefore be more available to his family.

Anne-Marie Slaughter thinks businesses and corporations need to change and adapt so that women are not forced to choose between family and having a high powered career. Winerip is more sympathetic to employers and says this is a choice that each family has to make fully aware of the consequences.

“I do not blame job discrimination for blocking my path. I knew what would happen when I made these decisions. I knew there were jobs that, by their nature, were too inflexible for me if I was going to achieve the balance.

You can’t cover a war and be there for your children. Do not believe it when people say they can travel and still keep up with their kids at home by talking on the phone or Skyping.”

And a little later…

“Foreign correspondents can’t cover a war and travel less. A reporter’s interview is going to be better if it’s done in person instead of teleconferencing. News is as likely to break out on Saturday morning as Wednesday at noon when the kids are in school.”

I appreciate Winerip’s perspective not only because it doesn’t seek to play the victim card and blame others but also because it doesn’t judge.

“Those jobs that refuse to be friendly are often the hardest, most time-consuming, most unpredictable, require the most personal sacrifice and, to me, deserve the best compensation and most corporate status.

Which does not mean that these are the people whom I admire most or want to spend my time with. When I see a man who has reached the top of a company only by making work his entire life, I think, what about the kids, what about the wife? And it’s no different when it’s a woman.”

Nathan made good points in his post yesterday and there’s no reason for me to repeat them. All I want to do is say that no one has it all. No one. Not men or women or adults or kids or moms or dads. No one. So instead of deciding who’s to blame because we don’t have it all or trying to figure out some way that we can be the first to have it all, we’d be better off thinking through what our values are and making the hard choices of life.

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