Can women have it ‘all’?

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What is “all”? The common understanding is that “having it all” means balancing a successful career – preferably the “top job” in our fields and a healthy, happy family.

The corner office proves that we’ve achieved success in our careers. A healthy and happy family is proof that we’ve been successful as mothers, wives and partners.

Whoa. That’s a tall order. Much has been written on the topic. I like Madeleine Albright’s recent take on this question.

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She suggests that we as women can “have it all,” but not all at once. I agree that you may not get the corner office job while your kids are in diapers – but you can still get there eventually.

I would like to redefine the “all” equation. Why must “all” = happy family + top rung on career ladder? How about: “all” = happy family + happiness in ones’ work?

I know moms who enjoy their work as baristas, servers, retail jobs, admins – and they’ve raised healthy, happy kids. I think they have it all.

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I also know a few men who have successfully juggled their job and their families. Their kids often see these dads as their “go-to” parent. I think these guys “have it all.” I also think there are much fewer of these working fathers then there are working mothers.

And why do we continue to ask whether or not women can “have it all”? Shouldn’t we be asking, “Can people have it all”?

Here’s a shout-out to a few of you I know who have cracked the work-life happiness balance: Peter and Jen; Mike K; Raejean and Jim; Gail; Tom and Becky; Dean and Gail; Aimee and Scott; Monica; Kerry and Mike.

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Who else do you know?

Susie Falk is president and chief executive officer of The Falk Group, a public relations firm which is based in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

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