Having It All: Can You?

06.25.09


Can you have it all?

I just had three hours of tennis followed by thirty minutes of lunch. I ran out of time to sit and enjoy my food. I will be up late cleaning and dusting and folding laundry. It is a choice I made.

Can you have a career and kids? Do you even want one? Is it bad that I don’t want one, but still resent the fact that my wardrobe offers nothing in the way of “business casual”?

What is “it all” and why do you even want it?

Don’t give me Mommy Wars, give me your definition.

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17 responses to “Having It All: Can You?”

  1. sarah says:

    I don’t have it all, but it seems when this phrase is thrown around it’s supposed to mean kids, money, house, career, freedom, stress-free living, money, money, marriage, money, fantastic husband, money, style, fitness, money.

    For me it will mean finally having a comfortable partner in my life, maybe a couple kids, and not much money worry.

    Oh, and with or without kids I don’t get the concept of a “career” or maybe I missed the class that explained why this is supposed to be so amazing. I hate the work I’ve done for 15 years, but not sure how I can do anything else.

  2. amyz5 says:

    I love this question, jessica.

    Let’s see. To me having it all means something completely different than it did when i started my family. I did choose to have a career and be a mom. With every life stage I altered what that meant to make both the work and the parenting feel right. So having it all meant being nimble.

    Bottom line, now that I am at the end of the custodial parenting road I can say that having it all meant being the best mom I could be while still being able to do what I enjoy to make a living.

    On a good day that rings true.

    On a bad day, it meant a good stiff drink and a prayer for a good day real soon.

  3. I’m never sure what the definition of career is. I worked at the same company for 14 years, never did the 80/week thing even when I didn’t have kids, but also never made director and barely manager. My husband is a soccer coach, which means less money, but still a career i think, and he can take the kids to work some of the time. I need to find a job which has benefits and covers rent and food and toys and my business wardrobe, after that I’ll trade $ for more flexibility, vacation, time off. In other words, if I have to travel 40% of the time I want to make enough that I can then take a part time job in a few years.

    OTOH, I’ve known two very successful creative couples, who when they had a kid would not budge an inch when it came to their careers…it was like a power struggle, who had to actually come home in the evening or possibly take more time in the day. They both got divorced.

    So I want it all, but don’t expect it at the same time. Work I tolerate, maybe even enjoy to pay the bills, time with my kids, time for myself and good marriage, but I will have to put off some of that.

  4. Caroline says:

    I think “it all” is subjective. For some, having it all is the ability to marry, have children, and have the financial security to be able to have one parent stay home to raise the children. Maybe even homeschooling the tots. For others, like myself, having it all is having the ability to pursue my dreams of becoming an attorney AND having a family and not having to sacrifice one or the other to have my dreams become a reality. I pursued a career, not knowing whether the other would ever occur, and it didn’t until I was 35. That’s a lot of education and hard work, there. Now, at 35, I have a 3-month-old daughter. Some would say that I should be at home with her . . . that I can’t have a well-adjusted child if one of us is not in the home, but that’s not guaranteed, anyway.

    When I pursued it all, I put a lot of time into the things I could control, i.e., the education, and a lot of dreaming into the other. Now that I have them both, I want them both . . . having them both excel is not guaranteed, but I aim to try. Why throw away the first part of my life just because of the fact that a child will now occupy the second half of my life?

    Dunno if that answers your question, but it gave me something to think about!

  5. Yo mama says:

    It’s possible to have it all, just not all at once.

  6. I think that you can “have it all” – just not as much of everything at the exact same time!

    For me, my “all” is to live based on my top priorities: God, husband and kids AND to be constantly learning and evolving as a person. It’s a constant juggle, but I have it “all” right now. (Ask me again in a month…)

  7. I like YoMama’s response. “It’s possible to have it all, just not all at once.” For me, 24 hours isn’t enough time for me to add full time work outside of the house to being a mom, wife, and the other things little things I like to do.

    It helps to think that, for a while, I had a “career.” There will come a time when I can do that again, but right now my focus is on my kids.

  8. annie says:

    I had the “career” and the kid and hated it. And this was before my husband died. Hated it a lot more afterward because it stopped being my choice and became a matter of survival.

    Do I have it all now? I don’t have the writing career I want – yet – but I am much happier without the “career” though I do miss the business casual a tiny bit every so often. But my new “uniform” is more me and I am more me than I have ever been in my life.

    When I was in university, it was forbidden to want the husband, kids unless you were willing to put on the business casual and arm wrestle with the world as well. That was the “having it all” definition my peers and I were handed by the 2nd Gen Fems, our big Boomer sisters. And I always felt we got royally shafted because there was never a choice for us. We couldn’t do it as our mothers did (and not all our mothers suffered from the problem that had no name). We had to be working moms and super sex kitten wives.

    And I am hardly the kind of person who defines myself via my husband and child. I usually tell people I am a writer before I mention the wife and mother part. I am a lot of really great things and I happen to be married to a terrific guy and have really awesome daughters.

    Can you have it all? I guess that depends on what your “all” is.

  9. Preston says:

    Sometimes it’s a matter of priorities and sometimes you have no choice. Personally, I see nothing wrong either way. If you want a career and kids, it just means more work. If you want to be a SAHM, it probably means more sacrificing financially.

  10. Tiffany says:

    I love my life.

    For me, I think that is having it all.

    Love the thoughtful answers.

  11. Joan Goldner says:

    “Having it all” is completely a choice and even that changes with experience and time. But NO ONE else has the right to judge what others choose NOR should we judge of ourselves if we learn, over time, that we can or should have done otherwise. In other words, have faith in yourself, learn, and change. The hell with what others have to say.

  12. melissa says:

    it depends on which all you want.
    and when you want it.

  13. LizzB says:

    I keep having babies so I don’t have to start a job. ;)

    Business attire? Shit. I’m still in my PJs at 4:00 on a Saturday. Yeah. I have it all. All *I* want.

  14. Rox says:

    I’m mindful that “it all” might not be in the here and now. My mother worked here and there but mostly stayed home to raise three children; now, at 62, she wishes she’d have made different choices — for we all left home, and she was left with “now what?” She’s excrutiatingly bored and has compensated for that by becoming an exercise fanatic — just ran her first half-marathon! — and, though I think she’s done a lot of cool things, she still feels unfulfilled. For me, I worked and went to graduate school with my first child (now 8), but my second child (now 4) has some high needs — and most days, I can’t see past the immediacy of his (and their) needs to even think about how I’ll feel about all of this in 15 years.

    If I could figure out a way to work part-time with some significant vacation time, if I could get my littlest one’s needs straightened out, if I could have the tidy house and cook good meals and have all of the laundry done for the first time ever… then I’d have it all.

    That said, I’m deliriously happy in my marriage, with my kids and with my life in general… so maybe that is “it” after all.

  15. Jen G says:

    Having it all means I get to be me all the time. No fakey b.s. that’s “suitable for work” – I’m sorry, I’m not genetically or socially inclined to make myself suitable for normal people.

    That and having more than enough. Even if it’s $1 more than enough…that’s enough…but hey…more than $1 is just fine, too – I’m not about limiting myself. *grin*

    Once I got out of jobs and gigs that required ANY kind of customer service, I achieved the first half. Once I stopped giving advice for free, I achieved the second.

  16. […] blogger asked her audience the other day to define what “having it all” meant to them without going to the mattresses and this was my response: I had the “career” and the […]

  17. Loukia says:

    I think I have it all because I am a mom of two amazing little boys. I do work full-time, but that does not define who I am. I love being a mom, and if I could work from home, I would. Or if I could work a few days a week only in the office, I would. I also wish I had a nanny. Then I’d really have it all! ;)

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