Why was I taken aback? Not because of what these women do, or even because of what they appear to do (it all). What amazed me was the simple truth each revealed in her own way: none of us does “it all” without help, but few of us discuss the specifics of how.
We all know Martha Stewart has a staff crafting her particular brand of homemaking imagery. But somehow we’re vulnerable to the sparkly Facebook- and Pinterest streams of our friends and online mentors. They appear to be churning out delightful crafts and delicious meals and magical moments with their adorably dressed children while we are barely finding time to shower. They’re video-blogging and podcasting and consulting and writing and traveling and going to parties and appearing on TV and generally being fabulous while we’re left wondering how to make it to the end of the week.
Each of these women revealed themselves and paid tribute to their helpers. The nannies and family members who take care of the kids, the partners whose jobs bring in the majority of the income, the limits they’ve adopted to make it work.
And the sacrifices they’ve made. Yes, sacrifices. It may look, on the outside, like they’ve got it all, but every working parent feels the trade-off, even when the trade-offs are willingly made. It doesn’t matter if you work in an office, at home, full-time, part-time…you make choices, and not all are straightforward.
I have many helpers in my life, but the one I’d like to tell you about today is my husband. I could never have made Parent Hacks what it is without his working. Because his job has supported us all these years, I’ve been able to be creative in a way I couldn’t have if Parent Hacks were on the hook for paying the mortgage.
I’m now standing on the edge of a new phase of my career: I’m about to launch a book. It’s busy, with lots of potential media stuff and travel and other exciting things I can’t yet predict. Again, the only way I can pull this off is because of my husband. He’s taking on the grocery shopping and the cooking (among other things) while I have my moment in the sun. I’m extremely lucky, both because of his readiness to step in and because of his work flexibility.
So before you berate yourself for living a family life that’s nowhere near camera-ready, know that no one does. Not without help.
Here’s to the people who help.
Asha Dornfest is the co-author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less and publisher of Parent Hacks, a site crammed with tips for making family life easier.