Sometimes I contribute to a website called Hollywood Journal, which is a forum for the entertainment community to celebrate and commiserate about their experiences, or as they put it, the “soul of the biz.” Not long ago I saw something on the Today show, brought up by Maria Shriver, that sparked a lot of questions and thoughts as it related to my career and a spark was ignited to write the following piece, which was originally published on Hollywood Journal:
I think I make every effort to ‘do it all,’ but frankly, at the end of the day, “it” is never perfect or pretty or without its hiccups and anxieties. Which may be the reason that Maria Shriver’s report on women #DoingItAll has struck such a nerve with me. I’d like some clarity on this – does the term suggest that ‘doing it all’ is actually possible? Or is it a call to action that we at least have to try?
I must confess. My writing career means the world to me and because opportunities ebb and flow so dramatically in this business, it seems I will do just about anything in my power to keep it going when work comes in — despite everything else happening around me. So, over the years, countless dinners have been compromised (did you know you can cook rice without the lid on?), I’ve printed whole scripts on the go in the mini-van (hello, it has an AC plug!) and pulled all nighters where I’ve nodded off to sleep with my eyes open. I’ve destroyed rare, relaxing visits to the spa, ruined vacation days where I could have sat on the beach and once, to enjoy a full Sunday with my family, I caught a 6am Monday morning flight from JFK to get to an editing bay in Burbank by 10am (it’s remarkable what you can accomplish before the average person starts their day).
My other gig is Family CEO, where I have more than twelve years experience overseeing the loving care of a husband and three really great children, while upholding and maintaining all culinary duties. In addition, I have a senior leadership role in executing daily household responsibilities, which include massive amounts of dishes, outrageous loads of laundry and a special expertise in managing clutter control. Oh, and three+ years as a Girl Scout leader. At any rate, this is all just a snippet of what #DoingItAll currently looks like for me.
Here’s the problem: I desperately want to do it all, but feel I just can’t do it all successfully at the same time, and that’s despite putting in 110% effort. I try to remind myself that sometimes there are just too many needs beyond my own to consider — too many snow days, sick days and Mexican fiestas at the kids’ school that they really, really want me to attend, that throw a wrench into my best laid plans. Hence, I am forever challenged outside my comfort zone to expect the unexpected and just roll with it.
Tina and Amy, you are my poster girls for doing it all and I absolutely adore you more than words can say, but we all know there’s probably a team of nannies on staff that are keeping you going in this seamless manner. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of — the downside would be that in those moments when work is flourishing, the kids may have more memories with the babysitter than with their mother. It’s always something. The reality is, in success, there is a new problem: we can’t be in two places at once. It’s a shame to think that one would have to abandon their children for their career or their career for their children, but there are sacrifices we make to at least try to pay the bills, follow our dreams and give our lives some greater purpose.
The more I think about it, the more #DoingItAll feels like an airbrushed photo on the cover of Vogue — it looks good and sells magazines, but is not reflective of real life at all. To me, this concept of ‘doing it all’ is especially dangerous because it suggests that ‘not doing it all’ means we have somehow failed.
What about revisiting the idea of #HavingItAll, but putting the focus on what we’ve accomplished instead of what we have not? Can we get the conversation going about appreciating what we already have and may take for granted, instead of aspiring to something that might make one feel inadequate or may not even be attainable anyway? ‘Having It All’ could be a gentle reminder of the importance of living in the present, being forgiving to yourself and not obsessing on some fantasy of a perfect life that leaves no space for mistakes and unexpected events.
Let me try that on — I have (held on kicking and screaming to) a career I have wanted since the age of 5 when I first discovered Lucille Ball. I have been fortunate enough to pursue my dream of working in TV and manage to write every day, whether or not I’m getting paid for it (woo-hoo). I have had spectacular experiences and rubbed shoulders with the famous and infamous. Most importantly, I have a supportive husband, amazing and (usually) understanding kids and incredibly caring and generous friends and family.
The truth is, I have not been given my circumstance, I have chosen this very full life because I can’t stand the thought of missing out on anything. Things may not always or ever be perfect, but I think the real answer is in #TryingtoFindaBalance, more than it’s about #DoingItAll. That would be a success in my world.