Chances are if you are a woman, you believed at some point in your life that you could have it all. Maybe you still believe it. And maybe it's true. But for most people, it's not true. No one has it all. I worked full-time before I had a child and I worked full-time after having a child. I have also been a stay-at-home mom not practicing either of the two professions I was licensed in. In none of those phases of my life did I "have it all."
But everyone from the media to our parents told us that we could have it all. They meant well. They were idealistic. They had no clue.
In the mid 20th century, women were told that they had it all if they were a wife and mother. That turned out to be true for some women, but not for all. The women's liberation movement was long overdue and a welcome societal message. Women could finally have careers and relationships and children and everything else that men had always had. But just as all of that had not always worked for all men, it wasn't a panacea for all women either.
Some of us with jobs and careers worried if we weren't in a relationship or didn't have a husband or kids. We knew that our careers took most of our time, leaving very little time for meeting that special someone. And the biological clock just kept ticking.
Those of us with jobs, careers, relationships and kids worried that we didn't have enough time to spend with our kids and families. We worried about hurting our chances of a raise or promotion when we left work to watch our kid play "Hot Cross Buns" badly on the recorder at the school performance.
Some of us who gave up jobs or careers to stay home with children worried that we would be relegated to lower-paying jobs when we eventually tried to reenter the workforce... If we were lucky enough to find a job at all after being out of the workforce for so many years.
So, who really has it all?
I sure don't know. I do know that I don't want anyone telling me to lean in when my job is taking too much time away from my family as it is. I don't want anyone telling me that there are plenty of good jobs out there for someone who hasn't worked in a decade. I have reached an age where I don't want the media or society or anyone to tell me how I can have it all. No one has it all. Life is full of compromises.
The most we can hope for is that when we look back at the compromises we made in our lives, we remember why we made them. The really lucky ones may also be able to say that they wouldn't do it any differently even if they had the chance. Maybe that's having it all, after all.
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