Since I became a mom I can’t tell you how many times I hear or see the phrase, “You can have it all!” in the context of working full time. It triggers my inner perfectionist to think that there are women who are climbing the executive ladder while raising babies….all with a happy marriage and a clean house. When my reality feels soooo different. Unless they are talking about massive guilt and anxiety (and a drive to apply Queenvenient methods to my madness), I certainly don’t have it all!
I make mistakes at work because I am tired, I miss meetings sometimes because I am with a sick child. I am late to daycare sometimes because of my work obligations and I almost never have time to think about my husband’s wants and needs when I am crashing at 9pm from sheer exhaustion. People may wonder (and some people just ask) – why carry on this seemingly chaotic way? There are typically two reasons we carry on this way.
- For right now, it makes sense for our family. When I talk to other working moms it often boils down to helping meet the needs of the family – expenses may be high, a spouse may be finishing school or they may live in an area where dual income is the expectation.
- The second reason I often hear (and feel myself) is that moms return to work because it benefits them as well. It is not all bad. Connecting with adults, making accomplishments in other areas of your life, pursuing hopes and dreams.
Bonus you also get to have beautiful children, laughter, moments of peace, romance and intimacy on occasion, success, and even catch up on my Real Housewives every now and again.
What I was missing when I went back to work and kept thinking “I have it all, I have it all…crap all I have is anxiety” was PERSPECTIVE. A dear friend of mine gave me advice that has released me from the pressures of “Having it All”. Here it goes: In the three major areas of life you are balancing – Career, Wife, Mom – on any given day you will only be good at two out of three. Never will you be good at all three. You might have a parenting win one day, combined with a real moment of connection with your spouse, while you let go of some things at work. You might be an impatient parent, accomplishing all your tasks at work, and remember to give your husband a card. You might not have one real conversation with husband, but remember to color with the kids, and get through your email backlog at the office.
So, you can have it all – just not all in the same day.
There are many areas of life that we try to balance beyond the top three – friendships, your parents, siblings, me time, and working out… but for real people, real women struggling to “Have it All” this single two out of three rule can be a game changer. Simplify your thinking, change your expectations. Give yourself space to be mediocre at some areas of life and excel in others. The next day, month, year the balance could be very different. These are the ebbs and flows of human existence.
Finding time to write this means I am no-doubt dropping the ball somewhere else – but I am prioritizing my hopes and dreams above all else for a moment and feeling no guilt about it. It will all balance out.