Having it all, and feeling the self imposed pressure of wanting to be it all, is something that many mums are conscious of, and others of us, are unaware of the pressure we place upon ourselves until our own expectations coming tumbling down around us in a flood of anxiety or depression. Bit are we alone? Is it a gender specific affliction?
This week on The Other Half one of my regular blog readers ‘Kirsten‘ is posing the question to our Dad bloggers:
I would like to know their thoughts on women putting pressure on themselves to do and have it all, and do men experience the same pressure?
Dad Down Under
Having swapped roles, me being the stay at home parent and my wife going to work, we both want what the other has sometimes. Every time my wife kisses our son goodbye and heads off to work I can see it hurts her. She does so because she has a greater earning power and for her “having it all” is having a happy home and family. There are days when my wife calls to say she is heading for afterwork drinks and I get vaguely nostalgic for the good old days. As a stay at home parent I want to have my cake and eat it, the cake being all those things that make me happy outside of being Daddy. So yes I do put a lot of pressure on myself to have it all, I still want to stay fit, I still want to go out and paint the town red, I still want to lavish myself with gifts from time to time and I still want to indulge the old me as well as the Dad me, I don’t want to let go of him. My wife has done the stay at home gig and appreciates the importance of not being defined by it. My priority will always be my family and of having it all unbalances that then I will redefine what having it all means to me.
‘Bucky’ – Aussie Daddy Bloggers
I remember my Year 12 English teacher leading a class discussion about making it in the real world and finding a suitable job. He told us that happiness is what you make it and that some people are happy being pizza delivery drivers whilst other’s will never be content regardless of what they’ve achieved. At the time I knew it was bullshit, there’s no chance I’d be happy coming home from work smelling like a capricciosa.
Twenty years on and that class produced 23 proud pizza delivery drivers – can’t wait for this years 20 year reunion…OK, OK, let me delve deep into my heart’s inner and see if I can find something meaningful to share about this topic…nup, nothing there…I think I exhausted my pool of sincerity consoling Chubba for the Melbourne Demon’s current form slump…I’ve been consoling him for ten years now and there’s nothing left in the well.
Oh hang on, there’s a little bit…this is not a gender related issue, it’s a personal thing. Some people are content to have and achieve less providing they’re happy, others simply will not allow themselves to be content with what they have – they push themselves to achieve more because once they stop trying to improve they feel like they’ve given up. Just like me, I’ll never ever give up, I’ll never ever be content, not until I’ve washed this damn capricciosa smell outta my clothes anyway.
Travis “Chubby” Bull – Tacklenappy
Whitney Houston once sang “Didn’t we almost have it all?” and apart from the rhetoricalness of the question, I guess the answer is no, not really. Although I don’t think that was the next line of that song, she did leave us pondering that question. She left us guessing just like she did in The Bodyguard and just like she did when she asked us where do broken hearts go? Can they find their way home? – WTF and of course the answer is no.
Can a dad have it all and do we put pressure on ourselves? Well no, heck if Whitney couldn’t we can’t. We set different expectations on our lives to mums, all we want is beer and a hotted up car (and sex) when we are 18, beer (and sex) in our 20’s, kids and beer (and sex) in our 30’s and a hotted up car and beer (and sex) in our 40’s. Oh and we also want our footy team to win too (oh and sex too after a win please). If we get something along those lines we are pretty happy, we after all simple creatures.
Whitney really sums up what it is like to be a man “I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows. If I fail, if I succeed At least I’ll live as I believe No matter what they take from me. They can’t take away my dignity.”
Fast Lane Dad
Pressure can be such an ugly word and yet it can also be a beautiful word if used in the right context. Some people thrive when they’re under it and some crumble when it’s on top of them. Other people choose to ignore it and hope it will ‘GO AWAY’ and occasionally some people don’t have any comprehension of pressure unless they are having uncomfortable sex.
How do I feel about it personally? Well, I love having sex. What! That’s not the question?? Oh yea, pressure.. having it all.. doing it all..
I think men are no different to women in this regard. I still want the best for my children, a clean house (mostly), a clean car, (rarely), to go out both with and without the kids and live my pre-kids life again for a night. I still want a career both now and also to go back to when my boys are old enough to not need as much from me (bottom lip wobble) and if that’s what it takes to ‘have it all’ then yes i’m on that train.
I do want to have it all, like a kid in a sweet shop (fat or thin) but do I feel ‘Under Pressure’ to deliver these results for the shareholders that are made up of my family.. Yes, I guess I do now you’ve made me think about it. Damn you people of the internet!!
And now I will have Freddy Mercury and Queen going round in my head for the rest of the day along with bloody Whitney Houston, now that’s ugly.
Yes, men do want to ‘have it all’ just like women. Both genders are fed the ‘you can be all you want to be’ message as soon as we can decipher colours and smack our own faces with our tiny uncoordinated baby arms. We grow up constantly measuring ourselves against others and comparing what we have and battling against advertising and the societal whispering that what we have is not quite enough; that we should always be trying and striving for more. Sons-a-bitches.
No question women have copped it harder than men until recently. The drive to enter the boardroom has been a great thing but it’s provided women with opportunities while they are still hampered by the belief (both inside themselves and out) that they are solely responsible for maintaining a household and rearing wonderful kids. That domestic responsibility makes focusing on career, personal goals and passions incredibly difficult.
Men, until recently could ‘have it all’ by focusing almost solely on their careers. The family and lovely house part was taken care of because they had wives!
Yes, it’s changing. On a grass roots level more men are taking on the responsibility and pressure of rearing children and tackling the drudgery of housework on the domestic front-line. More and more families are faced with negotiating who does what and so the family/work life balance is becoming an issue for men as well.
I’m running head-on in to this pressure as a stay at home Dad to four boys, the main cleaner and cook, and now – thanks to the success of my website – I’m receiving daily offers and opportunities that are furthering my life passion as a writer.
It’s very hard. To me ‘having it all’ means I’m a good Dad, my family is happy, and I’m finding success in my profession/passion. Lately trying to fit all of that in has been immensely challenging.
You’ve heard of Mother Guilt? It’s not just for Mums. When I focus hard on my personal passion I walk about the house feeling guilty about the mess. When one of the kids is playing up, or seems a little sad, I can’t help but feel that it’s my fault for having outside interests. When I spend hours cleaning and put my work aside I feel less fulfilled and guilty about missing deadlines or not following up on some commitments.
That’s Daddy Guilt for ya! Because of the evolving of gender roles men are feeling the same pressure as women to have it all. I wish I had a suggestion on how to make it easier. But you know what? I think we’re stuck with it.