Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Can I have it all?

I recently read an article by Ann-Marie Slaughter on Why Women Still Can't Have it All.  I'll admit it...the title of it stuck out to me.  Mostly because of my recent post about the whole issue of daycare and being a working mom.  So is it possible?  Can I have it all?

The attorney in me is going to give a typical attorney response...

It depends. 

It depends on what your definition of all is. 

I think I can have it all.  I want to have it all.  I just think...and this is the part of where I still struggle...I need to adjust what my expectations of "all" are. 

I aim for perfection.  If I do something, I better do it correctly.  And perfectly.  Flawlessly and no mistakes.  If I'm going to be a working mom I'm going to be the best mom ever and the best executive director ever.  I'm going to do everything expected of me and more.  And the truth is? 

I can't.  I simply can't. 

What has happened from these high expectations, this standard of "hell yes I can have it all - just watch me!" is biting me in the butt.  I'm stretched too thin.  I'm taking on entirely too much.  We've had to make staff cuts at my agency due to funding reductions, and once the specific staff person left, her responsibilities then became my responsibilities, in addition to the full-time ones I already had.  And I keep volunteering for more and more things.  More deadlines come up, and I find myself working all the time - the 8 hour work day, doing work while T drives us to and from work in our 45 minute commute, I work after we put Aubrey to bed, I work during the weekends...I think of tasks and what to do while in the shower and on the treadmill...and it's still not enough. 

I'm now doing work events in the evening, too...grant interviews, public outings to publicize our agency...and it takes me away from Aubrey and T.  And I hate that because I only get a good two hours with Aubrey in between daycare and bed.  I get home, and she's in bed, so I just get to peek in and see her sleeping peacefully.  But no interaction.  So I want to spend all the time I can during the weekends with them but also, at the same time doing my Mary Kay, making sure the house is clean, exercising...preparing for a mini-marathon in September...

I'm nearing the breaking point.  However, I don't want to give up all of it.  I do still think I can do it all.  I just don't know if I can take on as much as I am with each job.  Something has to give.  I have to adjust my expectations of what all of it is.  Do I need to do it all myself at work?  Or can I delegate?  Or can I prioritize?  Why am I looking for perfection all the time? 

And am I being a good enough Mom to Aubrey even though I can't dedicate all of my time to her?  Does she know that I love her enough?  Am I being as good as all of those awesome moms I see on Facebook all the time, making their own food, going to Mommy and me classes, documenting every waking minute of their child's life?  Am I doing this well enough? 

So I guess, in my rambling here, the answer is yes, I can do it all.  Can I do all of what I'm doing at this current moment in time, juggling everything and trying to be everything to everyone?  No.  But can I have a career, friends and a family and lead a healthy and happy life?  Yes.  I just need to find that balance. 

In my spare time, that is...



  1. You hit the nail on the head, balance. I firmly believe society tells us we can do it all and it means all. It sends that message to working women, SAHM, single women, married women, women of every stripe.

    Maybe I don't see it because I'm a woman but I don't believe it sends the same message to men. Oh sure they have certain pressures, and even some unattainable pressures, but I don't see them getting the same pressures from society, (i.e. the media) that we get.

    I urge you to 1) delegate more of your work load 2) make time for Aubrey and T, for Aubrey, for T. As much as you want to spend every waking moment with Aubrey, T needs your time, you marriage needs that intention 3) say no once in a while, maybe a lot more often. If no one picks up the slack, leave it. What happens when you pick it up? Everyone says, "oh don't worry about it, Alaina will get it" 4) find out what you really want to do, and do those things, again leave the rest for someone else and if no one takes it, leave it.

    It is a tough row to hoe when you're a perfectionist. You see the need and you know it needs to be filled, that doesn't mean you have to fill it. That is the one of the hardest things to let go of.

    I'm praying for you Doll. Find that balance and when society (or even someone like me) gives you advice that just doesn't gel, politely say, "screw you!"

    Lily-Thinking Thoughts

  2. I read and then shared that same article on Facebook last week. It resonated with me, too, because after trying to have/do it all for so many years, I finally reached my breaking point when my oldest was 8. I was managing a jewelry store, and for a week during the holiday season I didn't see her awake at all. One. Whole. Week. She was home, I was home, but I had to leave before she woke and got home long after she was asleep. I changed careers two months later.

    Now, I'm in a more flexible position. I have evenings, weekends, and holidays off. I would still like to be at home, and would love to write, but financially that's not possible right now. I realized, though, that "having it all" means following my heart as much as possilbe instead of trying to conform to society's idea of what having it all really means.

  3. Oh honey, this just broke my heart. I think we all go through our own versions of this "can I have it all?" thing. My only advice is to understand that there is no such thing as "it all". We all just do the best we can. And I absolutely recommend delegating and prioritizing. And spending as much time with Aubrey as you can, but never beating yourself up if you can't. You're a wonderful and loving mother. Cut yourself a break.


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