Work, Life, Balance and the Myth of Having It All

Work-life balance has been a cultural hot topic ever since technology enabled us to take work home with us.  Every night. And every weekend.  We’re readily available always and usually expected to be reachable, even when we’re not present.  Add a nightshift of blogging on top of a full-time job and a household to run, oh right, and two kids, too–I can barely keep my eyeballs above water.  Women are expected to balance work, life, home, friends, the gym, ‘me’ time and also, keep their shit together and appear as if they ‘have it all.’  I have a confession for you guys:  I have no idea what ‘having it all’ means.  It sounds like a lame term some man made up when he was trying to make women feel better about joining the work force.  I have another confession for you: I rarely feel like I’ve got it together.  There are some days when I give myself a little slot machine pull (cha-ching/nailed it/boom) because I’m so on top of everything but that’s happened, like, twice since I’ve had kids.  Most days I feel like I’m forgetting something (and I probably am).

For those of you that don’t have kids, I’m not trying to scare you as these are things I’ve chosen in my life.  I work for an awesome company, I have a blog that I love to write (and that people love to read, hopefully), am lucky enough to have two awesome little guys and have an incredible partner to share this life with.  I actually enjoy the chaos.  Sometimes work is crazy and my personal life has to take a backseat.  Sometimes, I get a really fun, kid-free weekend and come back to a messy house and a bunch of guilt for having fun without my kids.  Sometimes, I wonder if I’m doing this parenting thing right.  Sometimes, I wonder why I still have a blog.  What I’m saying is that there is no perfect equation for balancing it all and that ‘having it all’ is a myth to keep us from being happy.  Many days, I do a lot of things and I’m mediocre at them–and that’s ok.  Having it all is doing whatever makes sense for you and your life.  But it’s also being realistic about the fact that of all the things you embark upon in life will thrive at times and at other times they will suffer.  Because that’s life.  And life is cyclical.  It’s time we took our life back, apply balance where needed and realize that we can’t be amazing at everything that life throws our way.  It’s ok to be human and more importantly, it’s ok to ask for help.  Having it all is giving up the pressure that we place upon ourselves.

(Also, I get really annoyed that no one writes articles for men about the nuances of ‘having it all.’ Why does everything have to be a coined term for women?!  Let us live, dammit.)

Read about my motherhood juggle back in 2014.

21 comments

  1. This is well said and perfect. From one mom to another mom, thank you. From one working women to another, thank you. From one person who’s just simply doing life to another, thank you.

  2. I read somewhere that you can have it all… just not at the same time and that sounded about right to me.
    My kids are older ( 12 and 9) and I have always been a full time working mom. By and large, my career hasn’t suffered by having kids and my kids haven’t suffered by me having a career… what has suffered are my friendships and my me time. I just look at life as seasons… this season is busy with chid rearing but soon enough, they will be on their way to college and I will have some of that me time back. Friends are in the same boat so we figure that we will catch up again in 6 years so 🙂
    The reality is that women still shoulder so much more of the child rearing and home duties than men do while we have made our way up the ladder at work. Men don’t need balance, they need a wife.

    • I definitely see what you’re saying. I look at my sister, who is 10 years older than I am, with older kids (12, 9, 4) and she has it way more together than I do. Now that her kids are older, she has way more time for friends. I guess that’s something to look forward to for me! I think I just get bothered that it’s never applicable to men (because women shoulder a lot of this, like you said). I guess it’s on us to make sure we position ourselves as equals (which I try to do!). Thanks for the note.

      • The double standard of women vs. men “having it all” is almost like a triple or quadruple standard: not only are men not particularly measured by that absurd, abstract yard stick, they don’t even have to think about what “having it all means” or how to navigate trying to meet or buck those expectations.

        Thanks for writing this.

        • Yeah, men are pretty lucky in that regard. Also, no one asks them if they’re ‘coming back to work’ after they have a baby 😉

  3. I totally agree! I am a working mom of just 1 toddler at this point. My goal is not to let one area slip too far. Don’t completely let friendships fall to the back burner or I’ll wake up one day without any close friends. Don’t put my husband last or our marriage suffers in the long term. Don’t always put myself last or I’ll reach burn-out quickly. I’m trying to embrace that this season of little kids demanding time is fleeting and one day we’ll think back – “Those were the days.”

    • Great advice! For me, friendships always get put on the back burner – especially since so many of my friends moved away. It’s give and take and I need to learn to do a little bit at a time.

  4. I totally agree and it feels so good to know I am not alone! Sometimes doing it all works, most times it doesn’t. But that’s ok! Giving myself some grace along the way has been a huge help!

    • It’s peaks and valleys for me – sometimes I feel on top of the world and other times my head spins! solidarity, sister!

  5. I recently re-read an article you may have seen online… the gist was something like “I feel like I’m sometimes a crappy mom but I sure would make a good dad.” It’s so true! If I feel too much pressure I sometimes think how awesome of a dad I’d be. Right??

      • that is hilarious…I love the “three men and a baby” reference! thanks for sharing. I do feel like the role of a dad has come leaps and bounds over the past few decades (my dad was great growing up but my mom would agree that her son and sons-in-law are way more hands-on than my dad ever was when we were babies). anyhoo – women still seem to shoulder much of the household (and we give birth and stuff) so i just felt the need to talk about it. 😀 #endrant

  6. I’m taking my freelance copywriting career to the next level and taking on more clients and thus putting my 11 month old in day care part time and my husband literally just tonight asked me if I think women can really “have it all.” I nearly freaking smacked him. He’s actually an amazing man but what the whatttt. Why is this still exclusively a women’s issue? He seems to have it all just fine 🙄

    • THAT’S what I’m saying! Literally no one has ever asked my husband how he ‘has it all.’ He just does, why, because he’s a man? Cool.

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