Women can have it all – a career, children, a happy family and a clean, well-kept home.
As a woman, I hear slogans like this being advertised to me all the time. And if I’m being honest, it gets to me. It makes me feel like I’m not doing enough, that I need to do more – that other women are living my working life with 3+ children, so why am I so dang tired and why is my house a mess?
It’s nice to think that the sky is the limit and that there are no limitations holding women back from truly having it all, a successful career and a gaggle of children, along with a happy marriage and a fulfilled personal life. But it’s also unrealistic.
It puts so much pressure on women from all walks of life. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that women are under more pressure now than ever. Especially with the rise of Instagram and other social media platforms.
I know I’m not the only one who stumbles upon the occasional account that makes you think – what am I doing wrong? These carefully curated accounts feature hard working moms with a dream job, clean home and adorable children full of smiles.
We must step back and realize this feed of photos is a processed production – a polished look at the very best of someone’s life, not the reality of their day-to-day struggles.
Because we are all struggling! And, sometimes, the more you try and accomplish, the greater the struggle.
Meet Sarah Buckley Friedberg, a mother-of-three who is willing to admit her struggles – unlike so many others who are simply focused on showing off the best of their life.
Sure, she has a dream job as a microbiology manager for a medical device owner, but she’s also a completely normal woman who feels overwhelmed and exhausted by the day-to-day demands of her life.
At long last, Sarah was done pretending life is an easy breezy beach, she wanted to come clean with everyone on social media about the reality of being a working mom with three kids.
She took to Facebook one night to share her grievances via a rant that has now gone viral thanks to the sheer relatability of it all.
Sarah told Bored Panda in an interview: “I had a really hard and long day working and the kids were tired and cranky and it was one of those days they everything just felt really hard.”
She continued: “Some days I feel like everything is going well, I’m keeping everything going. Thursday was not like that. After the kids were in bed I sat down and wrote a very quick rant about life and society’s expectations for working moms. I did not plan on it taking off as it did!”
“The reaction has been amazing. It is so great to see that it resonates so loudly with so many people. It goes to show that I’m not alone in feeling like it is hard.”
Sarah’s rant hits especially close to home for American women, who get some of the shortest maternity leave in the world.
In Europe, new moms enjoy much greater assistance to help decrease stress associated with juggling motherhood and a career.
According to an analysis published in the OECD Family database, out of 42 countries, 10 of the most generous were located in Europe. Laws in these countries allow women to take dozens of weeks of paid leave.
In addition, many countries also offer compensated leave for fathers too, giving dads a chance to bond with their children.
In Denmark, parents get a great deal of assistance from heavily-subsidized childcare. Local authorities must pay around ¾ of total childcare costs.
Although, keep in mind, Denmark’s residents pay some of the highest taxes in the world, at around 45%.
We live in an entirely different world here in the US, where paid maternity leave isn’t guaranteed at all. Instead, we leave it up to individual employers to decide how much to offer.
As of 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 12% of civilian employees had access to paid maternity leave.
It seems things have only gotten more challenging for working moms over the last fifty years.
- In the sixties, 34.6% of women continued working up until one month before giving birth. Between 2006 and 2008, that number jumped to 81.6%.
- Between 1961 and 1965, 9.9% of women returned to work within three months of giving birth. Between 2005 and 2007, 44.2% of women returned to work within three months
Sarah admits she was lucky to get maternity leave with all of her children.
“My company is much better than most in the US and I am grateful for the time I had,” she shared. “I can only imagine how hard it is for the parents who have much less time. However, as a whole, the US can do much better to support new parents.”
She also gives credit to her “wonderful husband” who “does more than half of the childcare and housework. But if the kids are sick, and the school has both of our phone numbers, they call me. The doctor also calls me to schedule their appointments. My husband gets a medal for taking the kids out in public.”
So, how do you feel about motherhood in America? Are you overwhelmed by the pressure?