“Don’t settle for second best, you can have it all!” These kinds of positive, motivational slogans are often used to empower women, to show that there are no limits to ambition and that a woman needn’t have to choose between a successful career and a fulfilling family life.
But is there a danger of these good-intentioned attitudes actually doing more harm than good? Many women now feel an intense pressure to live up to these high standards, and ‘show’ society that hard work, dedication and superhuman organizational skills can make ‘having it all’ a perfectly achievable goal. But rarely do we see the reality behind the carefully curated Instagram accounts, Pinterests and perfectly maintained smiles of these uber-moms, many of whom could be at breaking point trying to juggle their responsibilities and maintain the facade.
Image credits: Sarah Buckley Friedberg
Enter mother-of-three Sarah Buckley Friedberg, also microbiology manager for a medical device company, dog owner, loving wife and many, many other things. Sarah is pretty much done pretending that she’s breezing through motherhood, and ‘having it all’ is just a piece of cake. In a now viral Facebook post, she decided to lay it all out on the table in an amusingly written, eye-opening rant that shows just how crazy society’s expectations of American moms have become.
Image credits: Sarah Buckley Friedberg
European women might relate to Sarah’s post slightly less, with generous assistance to new mothers helping to decrease the levels of stress associated with juggling a career and a new family member. In an analysis of maternity leave in 42 countries by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), all of the top 10 most generous countries were in Europe, with laws allowing women to take dozens of weeks paid leave. On top of this many countries also offer a compulsory paternity leave too, to give the father valuable time to nurture and connect with his children. Countries like Denmark also offer heavily-subsidized childcare for when mom and dad are ready to go back to work.
At the other end of the scale is the United States, which is the least generous member of all industrialized nations. Women in the U.S. are not guaranteed any paid maternity leave at all, it is left to individual employers to decide how much to offer. Because, you know, anything else would be COMMUNISM.
What do you think? Should American women be entitled to compulsory maternity leave? Are American mothers overworked and overstressed trying to ‘have it all?’ Let us know what you think in the comments!
Scroll down to read what people had to say, as well as further insights from Sarah herself
Speaking to Bored Panda, Sarah explained that she wrote the post out of frustration on a particularly rough day. “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 told us. “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 was fortunate in that she received maternity leave for all of her 3 children. “My company is much better than most in the US and I am grateful for the time I had,” she said. “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.”
“My husband is wonderful. He 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.”
And what has she taken from her post and the reactions to it? “Instead of saying yes to absolutely everything, and being the one who handles and plans everything, I need to be mindful about priorities and not listen to societal pressure to have the perfect house/ body/ yard/ etc.”