I actually don’t think I can have it all

WOMEN CAN HAVE IT ALL!! How many times have we heard this phrase uttered and seen it printed in magazines and across websites and blogs. I know I’ve seen it a lot. But the truth is, it just doesn’t resonate with me.

Before you start slaying me in the comments let me clarify, I’m not saying that a woman can’t have it all. I’m sure some women do, and I’m also sure other women come close to it, but at what cost?

I am a 30 year-old married woman, committed to my career, deeply entrenched in caring for my family, over scheduled, overburdened and childfree. Yes you heard that right. Even without children I already feel like I’m barely keeping all my eggs in one basket. I guess maybe this is why the phrase ‘you can have it all’ irritates me.

First let’s take a look at some women who don’t have it all.  I have one friend with a great career, she has a few children, is smart , beautiful and educated, but the conflicting shifts she and her husband have to work to keep the children cared for (instead of paying the exorbitant daycare costs) means they fight often and have drifted apart. She’s got a lot but no, she doesn’t have it all. She’s lacking the romantic, loving bond with her husband.

Then there’s another friend. She has three children, a fiancée, lives in the town she wants to be in, but doesn’t have a career. Why not? The amount of money she would have made from her field of study would have just paid for the price of daycare for her children before they hit school age. Her succession of children means, by the time she’s ready to go back to the workforce, she’ll probably have to retrain… a long path to a somewhat stable future.

Then there’s me. I have a fulfilling career, a great husband, a fantastic family, but not motherhood. I know if I chose to have children my career and entrepreneurial pursuits would suffer plus I would have less time to commit to my extended family. I knew I couldn’t have it all so I chose to forgo having a child.

I could keep spouting off examples of my friends with children who are lacking something in their lives, or my childless friends who have most of it, but not the kids, but I won’t. Even when we think there really is someone that has it all together we may not be seeing the full picture. So stop judging yourself. The point is that most of us know what parts of our lives we want to focus on and we are doing that. Our choice to nurture friendships, a career, our extended family or a life of adventures are no less valid than others who have made the choice to nurture children.

It’s a tough world out there and most of us have too little money and too little time so let’s not criticize each other, let’s just respect each other’s choices. Because trust me, it’s really hard to have it all and most of us are sick of trying to maintain the illusion that we’ve got it all figured out.