She said, "I encourage young women to think about finding a career they love, but also one which allows them to simultaneously be a mother and make their children top priority."

Myth # 3: "Having it all" is attainable.

The media love to glamorize working mothers. They often feature well-known and successful women, lauding them for maintaining demanding careers while "balancing" childrearing (the dependence upon full-time nannies and housekeepers is rarely mentioned). While the media tend to paint a picture-perfect portrayal of happy and fulfilled mothers with equally happy and fulfilled children, it dismally fails at exposing the shortfalls of trying to "have it all."

The truth is that juggling a demanding career and family life is frazzling and stressful: 60 percent of working mothers in America report that stress is the most critical problem they face.3 And it's understandable. The hectic nature of a typical workweek can be draining. Many women finish a long day at the office only to pick up their children from daycare, throw together a dinner, taxi children to music lessons or sports practice, and return to a mound of laundry before collapsing in bed and repeating the rat-race again.

This harried schedule is often at children's expense, leaving little time for meaningful interaction or activities. The constant tug-of-war between the career and family demands leaves many women feeling as if they are unable to give full priority to either.

Dr. Crouse says, "Clearly, something has to give and a family has to work together to make dual careers possible. What is seldom mentioned is that only certain career options are possible and, sometimes, that means considerable sacrifice. But, at the end of the day, the question is whether a couple is willing to sacrifice their relationship or their children for career success. Far too many couples have realized -- too late -- that they made that choice by not having the right priorities when making important decisions. Wise women recognize that they can't have it all at once; they have to acknowledge that if they are blessed with children, it is important to give their needs top priority."

Hagelin agrees. "Biologically, there are many seasons in a woman's life. A lot of women want to move quickly out of seasons, but instead, women should enjoy what each one has to offer. It is a privilege to be a mom."

Jackie Kennedy once said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much." While women are free to ambitiously pursue education and career endeavors, it is equally important that women declare a "We WILL do it" attitude toward childrearing, one that rejects the popular message of society, and instead commits to honoring the calling of motherhood.

Jessica Anderson, a senior at the University of Northern Iowa, wrote this as an intern in CWA's Ronald Reagan Memorial Internship Program. She is majoring in public administration, political science and music.


1.  For additional data and analysis of trends, see the Beverly LaHaye Institute's, Gaining Ground: A Profile of American Women in the Twentieth Century by Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D.

2. "Women 'opt out' of Career Success," March 16, 2005.

3.  Foreman, Judy, "Women Shouldn't Feel Bad About Feeling Bad," September 23, 1996.