Yes! While I have no stories that rival this woman’s complaints, I feel her pain. Not only do single people have a right to a full life, most of us do have full lives. Single professionals, just like working parents, have to find balance in their lives, unless we are happy working 100% of the time. As Jezebel’s Cassie Murdoch notes, “McKinsey & Co. did a survey of a small sample of women at 60 companies and found that both moms and non-moms who were planning to leave their jobs in the next two to three years had very similar reasons for wanting to go: ‘a desire to gain more control over their personal schedules and needs.’ Huh, imagine that.” Professional women, regardless of marital or child status, desire a balance between work and personal time. That need for balance should be valued and available to everyone, whether they have traditional families or not.
Single professionals struggle in their own ways with finding a life amongst all the work. As stated recently in the Washington Post, “[w]hether it’s our pets or our parents, our health or our education, there are many facets of our lives besides children that, thanks to work, get short shrift.” Or in Ms. Sandberg’s words “[i]t’s not only the working parents who are looking for more hours in the day; people without children are also overworked, maybe to an even greater extent.”
When I was a junior associate at a law firm my other single, childless female colleagues and I often complained that our lives would be easier if we had “wives.” We also said the same about penises, but that is a subject for another story. At my firm, well over one-half of the attorneys, our bosses, were old, white men (only two equity partners, at the time, were women). They almost all had wives who did not work. Therefore, these men had help at home — someone to do the laundry, cook, clean, shop, pay bills, care for children and parents, take the car to the shop, walk the dog and generally make their lives run. They were able to focus nearly all their time to work; and it was easy for them to assume that everyone else, including single, childless colleagues, had the same luxury.
There’s the common perception that once women have children they suddenly look around at their careers and realize that it’s meaningless compared to the joy they derive from spending time with their children. Or, even if they love their job, the demands of childcare mean there’s just not as much time in the day for them to indulge in their workaholic tendencies. So they step off the fast track to success and instead search for something which allows them flexibility and time at home. Well, surprise, surprise, it’s not just moms who are doing this. Plenty of single women are opting to have lives that don’t revolve totally around work. Gasp!
I know this is very difficult to understand, but according to the Wall Street Journal even people without children enjoy time away from work. Yeah, it’s weird, right? They get sick of slaving away for endless hours at work to the exclusion of all social activities. They don’t even have enough time to get their dishes done or cook themselves proper meals. In the words of Anne Marie Bowler, a lawyer who quit a draining job at a big law firm and started her own firm with a friend, “I wanted to have a life—a full life—which meant not just always working.” Ms. Bowler is 36 and single, and, frankly, it sounds like she’s still working an awful lot. It’s just on her own terms, which does make a difference.