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    Posted March 12, 2013 by
    Madison, Wisconsin
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Work and family: Making it work

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    Don't discount regret... What I learned from strong, elderly women.


    I spent my youth volunteering with the elderly and mentored by close, strong female women. One thing that is clear is that at the end everyone has regrets... if you live like you won't have any or try to suppress the feeling of regret it just explodes in your personal life.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Most women wish they would or could have had more children. They all emphasized that time with a young child is so important and even the ones who forsook careers for stay at home-hood wished they had more time in that arena - yes, even the moms of bigger families. Then I met an elderly nun who said she thinks she would have been a good mother. I met some who wished they could have been more accomplished in their chosen career and those that did were only bitter because they were suddenly confronted with that suppressed knowledge that they had to give something up... with that denial loaded phrase 'have it all.'

    If you stay home like me, you are spending precious time with your kids but you are putting your career on hold... I've seen a few cases like this - not many but a few - where the woman does this and then if there is a divorce, she is left with few prospects becaused of that choice. Plus, nobody enjoys their kids more than a working parent from where I stand. On the other hand, you aren't able to take time to enjoy little things about your children as they are happening either. My friends that work are able to have the daycare providers help with potty training but they often aren't around when it 'hits.'

    There are pros and cons to each and if we are going to think we 'have it all' only if we have work and family we are kidding ourselves. You have to sacrifice somewhere. Yes, I know families where both parents work that are more functional than my more traditional SAHM one. I know families that are less functional too. Its just important that we aren't mislead by people like the Facebook CFO who says we demand equality in and out of the home... 50/50 works maybe in business but sometimes one partner is ahead and the other one has to support them. Sometimes it has to be 91/9 for a while; if you vow for better or for worse this is what you agree to. Marriage is more complicated. I have a friend who splits bedtime with her husband by going every other night but she is limited as to when she goes out becuase she cacn only go out on certain nights and only switch if there is nothing going on that would upset the 50/50 balance.

    I can go out anytime because my husband understands I am home all day with the children. But because I have that freedom, I don't go out nearly that often. I doubt I would feel as free if it was 50/50.As the old saying goes 'life is not fair.' Treat marriage this and from what I hear and see in older women, 50-50 becomes "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

    Sandberg is not yet 50 and good for her she's found her balance but she's still a young mom; I trust the voice of experience more. Gloria Steinem - while I don't fall into line with her brand of feminism - I can appreciate. She is accomplished but knew all along what she was giving up. But again she's famous so she will have a feminist entourage with her unti lthe day she dies. That is not the lot of the vast majority of women who do not realize the truth until it is to late. That we are likely to be widows if we marry. That regret is easier if we acknowlege it in the beginning that supressing it. That at the end, its people and not things who are there for you.

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