Once in a while, something you read reflects everything you believe. Ellen Goodman, syndicated Washington Post Writers Group Columnist, was poignant in describing our country's struggle with work life balance in her farewell column on Sunday.
Four decades after Goodman was sent out to cover a brand new phenomenon called the women's movement, she sums up the distance women have traveled with this description: Advance and backlash, forward march and stall-out. Goodman says she never expected that more than two-thirds of mothers would be in the work force before we had enough child care or sick pay.
She writes: "As a young mother and reporter, it did not occur to me that my daughter would face the same conflicts of work and family. Or. on the other hand, that my son-in-law would fully share those conflicts."
Here's the paragraph of her column I found especially insightful: "My generation _ WOMEN _ though the movement would advance on two legs With one, we'd kick down the doors closed to us. With the other, we'd walk through, changing society for men and women. It turned out that it was easier to kick down the doors than to change society. It was easier to fit into traditional male life patterns to the change those patterns. We've had more luck winning the equal right to 70-hour weeks than we've had selling the equal value of care-giving. We have yet to solve the problem raised at the outset: who will take care of the family?
How true is this observation: "So many think their problems -- especially balancing work and family -- are private dilemmas to be solved on their own rather than as, well, a movement."
Goodman says if the women's movement were a course, she'd give it an incomplete. I agree with her. So where do we go from here? As we head into the next decade of the century, I want to believe that the struggle for balance will become easier for young mothers. I wonder if we will be able to advance it as the cause of many.
Do you see the struggle for work life balance as an individual dilemma or do you see it as something that women _ and men _ should fight for as part of a movement?