"Having it all" is a myth. "Having" is far too passive, far too effortless a verb for what it takes to combine career and family life. "All" suggests a sense of wholeness that in reality most parents who earn paychecks rarely experience. Instead, we live an ever-shifting, moment-by-moment dynamic.
If you're a woman then the chances are you will be familiar with the expression, 'Having it all.' It's rather an overused phrase to describe the push and pull of family life and the pursuit of "balance".
The advice I would give my daughter is not whether or not she should opt-out and then back in when she has children. It's to marry a partner who will fold clothes with her while watching reruns on a Sunday night with nary a complaint.
Now when we are alone and the house is quiet, I am remembering so many little reasons why I said yes all those years ago. Why it was so important to keep the you and I part right there with the mom and dad part.
I never learned a single trick. I didn't gain friends by teaching others how to yo-yo. Instead, I forged tenuous, make-do friendships with other oddballs who still believed in the Easter Bunny, or punched my shoulder when we didn't agree -- who didn't feed my soul.
Being a single mom stuck in the suburbs can be hard. Happy, intact families are everywhere, holed up in their big houses and two-parent, tag-team bedtime routines, working on the garden or schlepping in the groceries.
My kid wanted an iPod 5 for Christmas. He's 9. He asked me many times. He sent me links to where I could get an iPod 5. When I fished around for comments on how my 9-year-old felt about the iPod 4, he said, "no way, that one sucks." Got to love the honesty of 9-year-olds.
Mrs. Higinbotham is never in a hurry. "Mrs. Higs," as I've come to call her, does not have 100 things to do, or at least she never acts like she does. She only has to do this very present thing and be in the moment with us now.
I took the kids to look at houses not because we're tired of the cows or the snakes or the spooked polo ponies that occasionally run up onto our front porch, do a few laps, and dart back off in the direction of whatever spooked them in the first place, but because the three of us miss people.