Today, dear readers, I am going to talk about Having It All.
Because that is a topic that doesn’t get much airtime, oh no, no one writes about the Blessed Womanly Curse of Having It All.
For me, Having It All means working full time, parenting and then trying to blog in the evenings after the baby has gone to sleep. I’m not going to lie. I’m an amateur at this. I’m not leading a FTSE 100 company whilst simultaneously raising eight children and fitting in a spot of tennis at 5am to stay trim. I’ll leave that to Anna Wintour, Sheryl Sandberg and their ilk, for I am no superwoman, but it is still a tricky balancing act, and one where I feel that I am constantly on the brink and if I take my eye off the ball for just a minute I could sink without trace, leaving only my powerwalk-to-work orange trainers poking up out of the mud, adorned with an epitaph. She tried to Have It All, but she found she was rubbish at everything. She was Rubbish At It All.
Take my email inbox, for example. It is literally overflowing with things I need to do that always get shelved because something more urgent crops up. There is a constant dark cloud of work that is never done hanging over my head.
Do men worry like this, I wonder? Do they agonise over whether they can have a career, children, a fantastic social life and great hair? I strongly suspect that most do not. A quick glance over the Google results for “having it all” reveals a depressing litany of authors-almost invariably women-reflecting and hand-wringing over the classic dichotomy. We are expected to be all things to all people, supreme mothers and supreme career women, or we will be letting down Emmeline Pankhurst, Gloria Steinem, Wonder Woman and most of all, our own children.
Personally, I just feel exhausted. I work all the hours God sends but never have any money, and any money I do have seems to get eaten up by debt, coffee and pre-packaged sandwiches that I hate myself for buying. I sometimes feel as though Piglet barely recognises me, but still I have hope. I read in Caitlin Moran’s book How To Be A Woman that having children made her care more about her career. All of a sudden it wasn’t just her anymore, but she owed it to her children to be the best she could be. I didn’t understand it at the time. I thought that having children was a way out of the rat race and a shortcut to a life of leisure spent drinking frothy coffees, enjoying play dates with other mothers during lengthy maternity leaves, and possibly writing a novel or finally starting that import-export business selling cans of cherry-blossom flavoured Japanese alcopops you’d been planning since 2001. What I wasn’t expecting was barely being able to leave the house or wear anything other than a pair of leggings and a milk-stained T-shirt for weeks on end, and developing an unhealthy interest in watching Escape to the Country that at one point had me planning an Escape to the Country-themed drinking game to pass the time.
You wouldn’t get Anna Wintour playing the Escape to the Country drinking game. She would spurn Escape to the Country, and go and play a pre-dawn game of tennis, get her hair immaculately styled into the trademark power bob and freeze some interns to death with her icy gaze.
You wouldn’t get Sheryl Sandberg wearing a pair of leggings and a milk-stained T-shirt. She would put on a chic but business-appropriate structured dress, sit in a beanbag-strewn Silicon Valley ideas room with Mark Zuckerberg talking about charity projects, then go and take the patriarchy to task at Davos without so much as chipping a court shoe.
So I find myself saying, as I drag myself out of bed at 6am each day, and as my eyes start to close while I write this blog post, knowing that I have to be up at 7am on a SATURDAY to take Piglet to his swimming class, I must continue, I must prevail, I must HAVE IT ALL. The career, the being a great mother, the being a world-famous writer (ONE DAY. Baby steps, people, baby steps). I will make Piglet proud of his Mummy.
28 Comments Add yours
There must be something in the air. My last post was called ‘I am not Superwoman’ and was very similar to this. Having it all is BS that, no doubt, some bloke or a woman with a rich husband and a nanny came up with. It’s where my blog name came from too! F**k having it all, let’s just do the best we can for ourselves and our children to be happy as one of my friends pointed out, no one speaks about work or the housework on their deathbed. Lots of love x
Quite right! In fact, I read a very popular article on the Guardian website some time ago about the top five regrets of the dying, and one of them was spending too much time at work. x
I am so with you, only I am partnered. But I work too hard, have not enough time, money or coffee, and certainly do not have super powers. I keep thinking it will happen and I try to stay very psoitive. I get up at 4am every day to write/work before work, do Tai Chi so my chronically painful body can adjust before real people waken. No one said it would be easy, but does it have to be this hard? I wonder…
Wow-I think you might actually be superwoman! 4am! I am shuddering at the very thought.
I wonder if it’s possible to ‘have it all’ too. I’m trying to decide whether or not to go back to work full-time after my maternity leave. I’m not sure how I’ll manage a career + a baby + trying to have hobbies and a social life – how do people do it?
I’m not sure that anyone does. Something always has to give, unless you have an army of nannies! Best of luck deciding. x
I can totally relate to this post to the extent that I always want to be the perfect mother, wife, colleague and it is exhausting. I am slowly beginning to give myself a break, but it is so hard…so I cannot offer advice but I can say that I am there with you #justanotherlinky
Thanks for your comment. I think it’s something a lot of people can relate to. We’re always trying to be all things to all people.
So true, there’s never enough hours in the day to feel like you have everything under control. On the odd occasion, I miss my old life, when I had a job where all the loose ends were tied up at the end of each day and I had time in the evenings to get exercise and be super organised for the following day. Theoretically I have an extra 40 hours a week now that I’m not working but I’m more bogged down in to-dos than ever??? I’m baffled! I hope you do get to have it all, but your baby will be proud of you regardless.
That’s the thing, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have any more time than I do now if I didn’t work. For example, I can’t blog until he’s in bed anyway, and that wouldn’t change even if I was at home.
It’s tough trying to find a balance. I’m pretty intrigued by the idea of a Escape to the Country drinking game!
Sadly, it never actually got played, due to the fact that I had the minor inconvenience of looking after a baby. The general idea around it was that you had to drink whenever you saw a wood burner or some beams. I would have been hammered in seconds if I’d actually attempted it.
You sound like your doing great. This is what I worry about when I return to work – how can I keep all the plates spinning? And not drop any balls at work? Or without feeling the guilt that something in my life is being neglected. Claire x
I think the guilt is ever-present to be honest, but I’m sure there would be stuff I would worry about if I was a SAHM too so grass is always greener I guess.
Thank you for writing this, such an honest post.
I constantly feel like I am meant to be, mummy, wife, cook, cleaner, nurse, psychologist, councler, everything but myself. I guess it is just what happens to everyone. I think it’s important to try to have ‘me’ time but when your meant to fit that it I’m not really sure! #bigpinklink
I always say my “me” time is on the way to and from work! I’m living with my mum at the moment so I’ve contracted out the cleaning to her, and I do the cooking. It’s a pretty fair division of labour as I hate cleaning and she hates cooking. She’s like Piglet’s other parent really. I’m very lucky to have her.
You need to remember that your little dude will be as proud of you in your leggings and milk stained t-shirt as he would if you were in a power suit as ceo of a multi national cooperation. Not saying you shouldn’t aspire to that, just know that everything you do makes him proud because your his Mama and he adores you. I think you should also be incredibly proud of yourself. Thank you for linking up to the #bigpinklink it’s been a pleasure having you again.
Thank you. I hope so-it is difficult when I’m rushing around trying to cook dinner after work and all he wants is to be held, but I guess that would be the same even if I was there all the time. Thanks for hosting and commenting!
We’re all just doing our best, whatever that may be Hun! Not so much having it all, but doing it all! X
Haha, doing it all indeed! Very true. xx
I’m with you – I think we feel like we need to have it all. And while trying to have it all we are really pushing ourselves. Great post. Thanks for linking up to #justanotherlinky xx
Thanks for hosting and commenting! xx
I know what you mean. I want it all too and I am exhausted too. Even though I am only a stay-at-home mum at the moment – partly because I can’t afford childcare, this blogging thing has taken over my life, but I am enjoying it and so I want to make it work. I know I have to go back to work soon and that scares the hell out of me. But at the end of the day, you are doing your best and you are doing it for your kids. That is the most important thing there. Thank you for linking up with us Min. Big Hugs. #FabFridayPost xx
We are all trying our best, and that’s the main thing. Thanks for commenting. x
Having it all sounds increasing exhausting. Like you I work and am a parent and am trying to make something of a blog in the evenings. With baby number two on the way I increasingly find myself thinking (1) is it possible to have it all with two little ones and (2) is it even worth having it all. I go from moments of throwing myself into my career and believing I can do it all, to moments of thinking that it is futile and pointless. I love hearing and reading from other mums on their perspectives and experiences because then I know im not alone. There will always be mums in each camp, I guess the question is which do we want to be in.. Thanks for linking up another great post to #MarvMondays 🙂 Emily
I agree, I always find it interesting to read others’ perspectives. I don’t think for a second that SAHMs have it easier, as I think I would go insane, but there are pros and cons to both sides. Most of my mum friends work part time, and I seem to be the only one who’s full time, but there are some advantages to that too. Blogging on top of everything is certainly exhausting! Best of luck with your pregnancy, and I look forward to hearing about life with two!
While we try to Have it All, sometimes we fail. But we try – and that’s what is important. And I think our kids are proud of what we d.
I hope so! Thanks for commenting.