Can You ‘Have It All’? Film Features New Moms Juggling Career, Family

"Having It All" is a documentary directed by Vlada Knowlton.
"Having It All" is a documentary directed by Vlada Knowlton.

How tough is it to “have it all”?

The powerful documentary “Having It All” explores three women’s journeys as new moms trying to balance career and family. Their understanding of having it all changes over two difficult years.

You can view the film’s online premiere free on March 3 as well as attend an afternoon webinar with movie director Vlada Knowlton and other experts on the challenges that career-focused mothers face. The film streaming and webinar come courtesy of FlexJobs, a subscription-based online job site specializing in remote and flexible opportunities, and 1 Million for Work Flexibility, an advocacy group of professionals and companies. (Registration is required here to receive a link and password. The movie will be available for viewing 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET on March 3 to all who register; webinar attendance is limited.)

The webinar panel also includes Kelly Wallace, editor-at-large on family/career/life at CNN; Jennifer Owens, editorial director at Working Mother magazine, and Sara Sutton Fell, CEO/founder of FlexJobs as well as founder of Remote.co and 1 Million for Work Flexibility. The discussion will focus on challenges that career-focused, professional mothers face and the societal, employer-based and perception changes that are needed to improve the landscape for all working parents, organizers said.

“As both a working parent and employer myself, I understand firsthand the challenges of learning to balance family and career for myself, as well as the importance of supporting my team in their work-life needs,” Sutton Fell said. “We have also worked with over a million job seekers, and we routinely hear how important work flexibility is to working parents. ‘Having It All’ is an important movie that can help stimulate and contribute in significant ways to the conversations that need to be happening on a national — and international — level.”

The movie and webinar offer a way for viewers to have a frank conversation about their own experiences of trying to have it all, Sutton Fell said.

“My intention was to create a film that could help new parents feel less alone in their struggle to adjust to juggling work and family responsibilities,” said Knowlton, a former Microsoft employee who lives in Seattle.

In the movie:

  • Jessica, 34, a University of Washington psychology professor, is in the planning stages of motherhood when the documentary begins. Her biggest concern is whether or not she and her husband, who also has a demanding career, will be able to create a “shared and equal” partnership with regard to child-rearing.
  • Trine, 36, a program manager at Microsoft, happily reveals that she’s pregnant after a long battle with infertility. She is suddenly faced with the question of how she will juggle work and motherhood, something she had not spent any time preparing for.
  • Kate, 33, a former IT professional, is a stay-at-home mom to her toddler, Ruby. However, she plans to go back to work as soon as possible and has been trying to stay up to date and relevant in her field. She fears that when she attempts to re-enter the work force she will be stereotyped as “just a mom” by her peers.

In the ensuing two years, the three women face unanticipated difficulties from the emotional pain of placing an infant into child care to the heartbreak and defeat of divorce, according to Knowlton’s film synopsis.

“People must have the freedom to both pursue their own vocational goals and start their families. It seems clear that, at least in our country, this is still a very difficult thing to do, Knowlton told KCTS, the Seattle PBS station that recently featured her film. “So, with films like mine, as well as many other books, films, and articles constantly coming out on the subject, I think what we’re all trying to say is, ‘This is a real problem and we as a society still need to find a better way to help families deal with it.'”

What do you do to have it all? Share your thoughts in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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