"Do you have it all?"
"Can we have it all?"
"How do you balance it all?"
As many times as we hear these questions being asked, they are rarely -- if ever -- directed at men. You would not expect a male CEO who is married with children to be asked during an interview how he manages to "have it all."
When a man is at the top of his game or running a multi-million dollar company, you never consider for a moment how happy his marriage really is, how his children are being raised or how the home front is faring with the pressures of his job.
I am not here to argue that roles should be reversed, or even to push for more men to be involved in housework. Rather, it is to advise that men should probably start embracing the idea of balancing it all.
Children benefit when both mom and dad are involved parents. They need to see their parents spending time together for the home to be a happy and harmonious one.
Balance is lop-sided if the only things our men, fathers, brothers and bosses talk about relates to their work and careers. Life is more than earning or pitching strategic business ideas to a board of directors. Yes, it is time for men to think about how they, too, plan to balance it all.
A lot of my research shows that most older people or those on their dying bed regret not spending more time with their families, not building better relationships and not fulfilling personal dreams. I have not come across anyone at 75 who wishes he had spent more time at work.
In reality, the things that most people regret are usually the one thing that was more in their control than they imagined: time spent with family and time spent developing their personal talents and dreams.
Perhaps we can help the men in our lives see that it is important to focus on balancing it all. Let them join the conversations on the quest of having it all -- which really includes being mindful about being successful at a career and in their family life. After all, as women, we have a head start on this quest!
Men should discuss how they ensure they schedule date nights with their wives. Let them talk about rescheduling meetings because they have to watch their daughter participate in her spelling bee. It should not be an anomaly that a father is involved in school runs. More fathers should strive to get home early enough to get children tucked into bed and talk about the day at school. Fathers should plan to spend time imparting their values or reading the bible to their children.
There is so much more that fathers should be attempting to balance into their routines before it is too late, lest they find themselves trying to build relationships with the adults their children have become some 30 years later.
As wives, sisters and mothers, let us not be guilty of forgetting the fathers. Let's not treat them like royalty when they show up at school plays and when they come to parent teacher conferences.
What about spending time at family alters together? Is it only mom who takes the time to pray with and for the children, while dad doesn't show that he thinks building a relationship with God is important? If we all get involved in balancing it all, I dare say it will be an easier task for all involved.
As a couple we should spend time alone, not always about work and the children. Remember that you will eventually retire from a job, the children will grow up and leave home. Your marriage, on the other hand, is not going anywhere.
The quest of having it all is usually targeted only at women because they have increasingly demanding roles outside the home while still raising a family. I am proposing that fathers and husbands should be privy to these discussions as well. They too should consider what "having it all" means -- a successful career while still carving time out for their wives, family and themselves.
Here is to all of us on the journey of "having it all"