What Will We Tell Our Daughters?

If there is a god of after school activity schedule coordinating, he must have been smiling down on me when I discovered a gym that offers gymnastics classes for four year-old boys and six year-old girls, at exactly the same time. And then he must have decided that I have a nice butt, or something, because he did me the further favor of populating the class with several children who just happen to have smart, fabulous, interesting mothers. So not only do I get to kill two birds with one stone each week, but I also get to do it with a group of, well, I don’t know what you would call people who kill birds with stones, but whatever, my point is, I get to hang out with a cool group of moms while we wait for our kids to finish jumping on trampolines, falling off balance beams and performing vaguely cartweelish-type maneuvers.


The gymnastics coffee klatch group is an eclectic bunch – aside from me, there’s a former lawyer, a former investment banker, a very part-time voice over actress, and an independent television producer with the luxury of setting her own work schedule. And most of us are in the same place with our kids – one or two in elementary school, with another one or two still in preschool. We talk about our kids, of course, but inevitably, the conversation always seems to turn to work. What will we do when our kids are in school full time? What options are there for a former investment banker or a former lawyer, aside from going back to work as an investment banker or a lawyer? What would it be like to go back to school now, at this point in life, in the hopes of starting a new career? And this week, a new twist in the discussion: when our daughters go off to college, what will we tell them about choosing a career?


It’s an interesting question, and one that I, personally, hadn’t thought about before. After all, when I was a kid, my mom told me that I could be anything I wanted to be, and I’ve always just assumed that that’s what you tell your kids, whether they’re girls or boys. But one of the moms that day pointed out that we, as the first generation of mothers to fully understand and accept the idea that ‘having it all’ is an impossible goal, are in a unique position to guide our daughters into careers and lives that might, ultimately, spare them the angst that a lot of us are going through right now. After all, she said, knowing what we know now, would we still have chosen to work at big law firms, or at major investment banks, or might we have chosen jobs with more flexibility from the start?



I plan to tell my daughter what I've realized in the course of motherhood - that you can have it all, over the course of your entire lifetime. There are different seasons of life, each to be cherished and savored. Your life is a work in process, a journey, and you can create something new and different each day.


Excellent article! I feel the same way about this and I had never considered it with regard to my daughter. I hope she's proud of what I've accomplished in my legal career, but I hope that when she's older I will be able to tell her what was sacrificed in my career and in my job as a mother so that she can make an informed decision. I would hate for her to beat herself up about not being able to "have it all." This was a tough realization for me.


Great article--very thought provoking, as always.


I haven't discussed balancing family and work with my daughters at all. I'm pretty sure they are learning that by watching. Maybe they are learning what not to do, but they are learning by watching me and their father in the trenches every day. I'm more concerned with them finding a job they will enjoy on a day to day basis because you have to work for a long time and you will be happier if it is something you can at least attempt to enjoy. Even if you think you want to stay home and take care of children, that may not work out and you don't want to be miserable in your job and not have any options.

Mom to 3