Monday, March 7, 2011

Double Doing

Over the past few months, I've been thinking about these two TV pals of mine: June Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver) and Don Draper (MadMen). 

Mrs. Cleaver made a daily appearance in my childhood via television. 

Strangely, we had some of the same office furniture at home as appears in the offices of Sterling Cooper, so that world somehow feels familiar to me - my grandfather was a building superintendent just off Wall St. in the 1960's and we had some cast-away pieces still floating around. 

It feels like I grew up around both June and Don. 

Interestingly, I often feel torn between the need to ask both, What would June do? and What would Don do? What's interesting in the television shows is that their worlds were shown as completely divorced from one another while today, I sense that many of us, especially parents, are forced into both lifestyles at the same time.

Don is a leader. He's suave, he demands and receives respect at work, he delegates and manages, he has freedom and martinis at lunch and he regularly has moments of brilliance leading to adulation from his superiors and cash flow. He works late a lot, is not accountable at home for his day at work and is free to either show up for dinner in his kitchen decked out in plaid wallpaper or hit the bar and female company in a hotel room afterward.

June is a proper wife. She's dressed to the nines and her boys rarely have dirty faces. The house is orderly, the briefcase and lunch bags are ready to go, the roasts are cooked on time and there is a large glass of milk at everyone's place at the table. Everything, except for a few mischievous mishaps with her boys, is under control and she appears at ease and has time for social and leisure activities.

Don is a jerk at home and June is helpless in the office. 

Many of don't have the luxury of either foible!

This Mom Loves published a post yesterday on "Millennial Moms" noting the trend toward seeing fathers as equal partners in parenting and household management. Women, in my experience, seem to participate as equal partners in the workforce, taking on jobs as or more demanding than those held by their husbands.

Are we all trying to be both Don and June - the "powersuit" who can divorce themselves from the cares of the home during the day and then come home to put on an apron and pull together a roast of beef and pour a glass of milk and even have the leisure to wash the dishes as a couple afterward since none of the children ever seemed to need a ride to soccer practice back then? 

Do you ever feel only half as good as you'd like to be at either of your two roles? 

How do you find balance? 

How do we make the home and the workforce accommodate this reality of spouses both working and both parenting equally when the boss demands Don Draper during the day and our kids' teachers are still expecting to get June Cleaver on the line when Beaver gets sick at school?

My continuing goal has been to speak with working moms (and some dads) whose children are into their teenage years or older and to ask how they made it work for them when their kids were younger. The answers are surprising. They are always creative. They all involve sacrifice and they give me a lot of hope. My thanks to the successful and unsuccessful career-oriented women and men who have been sharing their knowledge with me. If you are someone like this, there is a lot you can share with us Millennial parents! 

DIY Rating: 0

The pull to be an impressive leader at work and have 
a perfectly oiled machine for a home life can seem irresistible. 

This often results in insanity, 
even with some serious hired help (think daycare here).

There are experts around you who have walked this road before - 
find out their secrets and start drawing up your own battle plan.


  1. This is a great post! I left a comment on my Millennial Moms post linking to your blog.

    Oh, and I can assure you that your children's teachers are no longer expecting June Cleaver to answer the phone if Beaver is sick. (At least most of us know better!) We aren't even counting on June Cleaver to be home and available at night to help with homework anymore!

    Don Draper, however, is welcome to set aside the after-dinner drink and listen to his kids read for a while! (Heck, the drink might actually help!)

  2. I too am wondering how people do it. The only thing that makes it possible for us is that my job is a strict 9-5, so I can be relied upon for looking after the little one, cooking, etc. Still, it is miserable to have to put the child into daycare.


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