There’s always been a lot of talk about whether or not women can ‘have it all’. Working moms, stay-at-home moms, dual role moms, single moms…we keep trying to have it all and being told that we need to figure out how to be all things, do all things, at all times. But what does that really mean? And will we ever achieve this seemingly endless drive for an ideal that is largely driven by society and insecurity?
It saddens me that women feel that we have to cut each other down to justify our own choices. You see stay-at-home moms judging working moms for not prioritizing their children, lauding the superiority complex over their heads on the way to the PTA meetings. Working moms turn on stay-at-home moms as not being motivated because they can’t possibly be fulfilled by ‘just’ staying home, right? And then there’s my favorite ‘you can’t be a feminist if you’re a stay-at-home mom’. Really? Because the last time I checked, feminism was about women having the freedom to make life choices and not be held back by our gender. That does not mean that we marginalize women who chose what is considered a more ‘traditional’ role as being less than. Can we just knock it off? Really. Let’s respect each other’s right to make the choices we each feel best fits our life. Such a novel idea…
But this is a question that has been on my mind for the last year and that I’ve particularly struggled with these last few months. Can I balance both work and family commitments? And, more importantly, can I do it without losing my mind? For me, the answer is no, I can’t do it all. That is very hard for me to admit. I have always held myself up as the person who can do anything, everything, all things, and that is what I thought made me successful. But really, it just makes me tired. And actually not very successful in the things that really matter…like my role as a mom or a wife or just as a person who likes to occasionally have a creative outlet. So coming to the realization that I may not actually be able to do it all was a long and painful path to walk and it took me several months to travel along it until I finally reached a decision.
For me, it’s about living up to the commitment we made when we decided to have kids. Mike & I decided that if we were going to raise kids, one of us was going to be home with them. And that person was me. Mike’s career was solid and had good benefits and set us up to be able to live on one main income. Granted, I have always worked side jobs from home like the event management things, a quilting company, etc. But everything I chose was based on being able to do it from home and create my schedule around the work of being a mom. And I loved it. Really, for someone with such a strong willed, I-can-do-anything-a-guy-can-do, tomboy personality, it looks like an odd fit from the outside. But there’s a big part of me that is the nurturer…the make-sure-everyone-has-what-they-need person and a person who really likes to run a household and finds great pleasure in it.
And then…I got an amazing job offer. And it grew into an even more amazing job and it grew into a full time thing. And then it was more than full time. But I loved it. And I was good at it. And it gave me this sense of confidence to excel at something that was seemingly outside my wheelhouse and completely independent of my role as mom/wife/homemaker. But while I loved it and it gave me a different sense of accomplishment, it became too much. I had to admit that, in the words of my incredibly intelligent husband, the vessel is only so big. I only have so much time and energy to give…so the question became where do I prioritize that time and energy? And while it took me about 3 months to definitively answer that question (yes, I’m a slow learner sometimes), it ultimately came back to the fact that we only have a few years left with the our younger two and then the kid years are behind us. And time, as I’ve mentioned before, moves way too frickin’ fast when it comes to raising kids. I also realized that I will have time to explore the other sides of my success after my family responsibilities change. I may feel old sometimes but I am only 44…it’s not like I don’t have good years still ahead of me.
So, I am choosing to have it all. All of the time, all of the energy, all for my family. And for me, that’s the right choice. And any feminist that disagrees can fight me.