On March 3, 2016 two companies, FlexJob and 1 Million for Work Flexibility, sponsored the online premiere of a must-watch documentary Working Moms should see called “Having It All”.
I was a bit nervous to watch because I feared that the stories these three women would share could remind me of when I first became a working mom. I remember pain, struggles, sleepless nights and anger because no one warned me about how hard life would get.
My hope with this film was that it would show we all share the same disappointments with "having it all". I also hoped that it would make many feel that they are not alone in their work/life struggles. The film covered all of this and much more.
I absolutely loved the first shot in the film. It was of a white picket fence, cute house, and a luscious green yard. This made me smile and think "Ah, the American dream!", and then I felt sad because I knew the story was going to get sad. But then I thought, let's exercise some emotional intelligence here. The reality is "having it all" is a hard goal to accomplish for many personal and unique reasons. When you attempt to fight reality you are going to be disappointed. Plain and simple.
So before I get into some feedback on the film here's some interesting facts that FlexJobs shared with me:
According to FlexJobs’ recent survey on the impact of flexible work on love, relationships, sex and health, 61% of working parents say their current work-life balance is terrible or needs improvement.
Other findings include:
Only 9% of working parents say they are not stressed out by their current work-life balance.
Over half of working parents feel that their current level of work-life balance doesn't provide them with the opportunity to take good care of their health.
89% think having a job with work flexibility would help them be a more attentive spouse/partner.
50% say flexible work would improve their sex lives in some way
The top two reasons parents want work flexibility is work-life balance (at 78%) and children (at 84%).
No wonder parents feel like they don’t have it all! After reading these statistics it made me even more excited to see what Vlada Knowlton had created.
The Dets on the film
Here is a summary of the film “Having It All”
“In recent years, the struggle women face to balance work and family has been a recurrent topic in news and entertainment. Various perspectives have been offered on the “Having It All” dilemma and its underlying issues, ranging from the news media’s mostly fictional “mommy wars” to comedy films like “I Don’t Know How She Does It”, to books and essays by prominent business women and policy makers such as Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter. The intent behind the documentary “Having It All,” directed by Vlada Knowlton, is to offer insight from real and personal experiences of women and their partners as they attempt to balance work and family..."
Click here for the trailer (it’s good!)
The brought together a few experts for a webinar to talk about the film as well as the "having it all" concept. The panel included:
- Kelly Wallace, Editor-at-Large on Family/Career/Life at CNN
- Jennifer Owens, Editorial Director at Working Mother
- Vlada Knowlton, Director of Having It All
- Sara Sutton Fell, Founder of 1 Million for Work Flexibility, and CEO/Founder of FlexJobs and Remote.co.
They spoke about what it meant for moms (and dads) to strive for the concept of ‘having it all', whether the panelists and the audience felt they were prepared for the challenges of balancing career and family, and advice for women and all professionals entering the work-family phase of life. Another article will come out for my take on this webinar.
Feedback about the film
In my next post I'll share my own feedback but in this post I thought it'd be important to get feedback from women who support Working Moms.
I'd like to point out that these women were under pressure and a bit of stress but still made time to work with me. They are some awesome working moms themselves and I'm so happy to have them in my life.
I asked these three great working moms, who happen to have blogs and businesses that support working moms, four questions. The three women are Monica Froese from RedefiningMom.com, Elaine McGee from ThriveMomma.com and Kristina Slaney from FamilyWorkLife.com and the questions were:
- What ah-ha's did you get from the film, if any?
- What was your gut reaction to the movie? Did it hit to close to home?
- If you starred in the film how would it be different?
- What was something crucial that the panel brought up during the webinar?
Here's what they wanted to share:
Monica, who watched the film and webinar while taking care of a toddler with a 103 degree temperature, said:
Surprisingly, I kept fixating on the concept of divorce that was presented in the film and talked about on the webinar. My husband and I are both divorcees. Two things we agree on is how fast things can go south and how hard marriage can be for parents.
It makes me sad that being a working mom is something that complicates a marriage. I feel this needs to be talked about more! No one ever says "Well, Dad went to work and traveled a lot so it ended the marriage!" It's presented that because women work that relationships break down. That's sad, right!?
I put this on my Instagram today while watching the movie: "It’s a legitimate fear for a women who leave the workforce that when she’s ready to go back, they will say "Oh, she’s just a mom!""
The movie did a great job at highlighting that when we become moms, we change. When we think about having kids, we can never predict how big of a change it will bring to us, especially for moms. Why does society say its not okay for us to opt-out for a while if we choose? How does that make us less intelligent? Its like society disregards motherhood as "one of those things women do"
Elaine, who watched and commented while on her lunch break and was getting ready for a long weekend away without children said:
Wow, I just watched it and I was getting really emotional. It brought up so much of the emotions I experienced especially as I returned to work. A good word for it is….traumatic. I had a healthy recovery and stable hormones and I was still a mess so I can’t imagine the hurt and trauma of Trine (one of the women). I’m volunteering for the PostPartum Health Alliance on their warm line and helping women through depression…going back to work in this state is a criminal act upon our society.
My quick ah-has were more confirming my empathy I feel for women right now. I appreciated the respectful story telling of real women with the realities of their mental and emotional conflicts, the unrealistic expectation that we buy into from a societal perspective that we can do it all.
The reality is that we didn’t learn in school or from our mothers about time management, meal planning, child physiology, child psychology, or any other skill that is necessary for raising a child in modern society. Yet we are expected to rock it all, and if we don’t, we punish ourselves.
Kristina who watched and commented while home sick battling strep throat said:
My big take away was intentionality. I was reminded how important it is to know our priorities and then actually prioritize our priorities. I was particularly saddened by two of the couples divorcing. Personally I was sensitive to that because my own marriage didn't adjust well to parenthood, but we made it through. But both couples earlier in the movie seemed so solid and thoughtful about partnership and parenthood, so it came as a surprise that they didn't make it. However, it served as a reminder (and warning). You can identify that your relationship is a priority, but unless you follow through with action to actually prioritize it, it doesn't matter. So regardless of what the "priority" is - relationship, self-care, career, friendship - actions must be taken to actually prioritize the priority.
My ah-ha was Kate's imagery of how parenthood kind of explodes your world and then you choose which pieces to put back together. Some fit, some don't, some you just decide aren't worth your time anymore and you just leave discarded. I loved that. I'm all about intentionality and choices.
I think the whole film just kind of drove home the notion that we're never on autopilot. I think as working mom's we try to find work-life "balance" or "fit" or "flow" or whatever the latest buzzword is, but the fact is that it's not something that is achieved. It's something we try our best to make happen, but what makes it happen one day doesn't work the next. It's a constant evaluating, prioritizing, choosing... we will NEVER be able to say "I've figured out my perfect balance!" because things are always changing.