Last week, I was talking to a man who asked me if I thought women could have it all. You know, the whole shebang. The real deal. The DREAM. A beautiful family, a great career, a house with a white picket fence and a dog that doesn’t jump on every person who enters the house. A great social life, a physically fit body with flawless makeup, and a humanitarian.
I came to the quick conclusion that no, women cannot have it all.
We can make it look that way on social media, but we all know that’s not true.
He seemed very surprised at this answer coming from me.
As someone who embraces my mistakes and admits I am in no way the perfect parent or wife or employee or human, I feel that women just can’t have it all.
At least not all at the same time.
Yes, we can have extremely successful careers and win awards and be on the covers of business magazines.
Yes, we can have husbands and children and pets, and they can love us, and we can love them and all can be great in the world.
Yes, we can be mentally solid and go to therapy and church and have a wonderful relationship with our spiritual self.
Yes, we can have social lives and a great group of friends we see weekly and chat with while drinking wine, swapping crockpot meals we will never make, and complaining about our kids.
Yes, we can be physically fit and exercise each day and drink enough water and feed our body healthy, nutritious food.
Yes, we can volunteer at our kid’s school and chair fundraisers and get silent auction items for the good of those who need our help.
Yes, we can have long, shining locks, flawless eyebrows, kickass makeup, and nails that are always perfectly manicured.
So yes, we can have it all.
But no, we cannot have it all at once.
Those people who have tried have ended up burned out and on the couch crying in dirty yoga pants with a pint of ice cream and a spoon while watching Pilot Pete get involved in all the girl drama on The Bachelor.
Why do I say this?
Because that person is me. I tried so hard to have it all.
I thought I could raise my boys, be a great wife, have a clean home, be a productive employee, volunteer with the best of them, exercise five days a week, get enough sleep, and maintain a flawless manicure.
But I was wrong. I couldn’t do it all. I ended up constantly worrying and extremely overscheduled. It took a toll on my mental health, and I was a hot, anxious mess.
So I had to step back and take a look at what was most important to me at that time. And I decided I needed to put myself and my family first. I continued to raise my kids the best I knew how and made sure I was going on date nights with my husband. I still worked out and took care of myself so I had the energy and health to do these things.
But I had to step back from some of my volunteer commitments. I hired someone to clean my house for me every two weeks. I had to miss some trips with friends, and I have never been the employee of the month.
But you know what? None of that matters to me anymore.
Yes, I would love to do all those things and have all the things and be the best, but it’s not possible or feasible. At least not without an assistant, a chef, a trainer, and a clone of myself.
I started cutting myself some slack and started taking naps again on the weekends because I was tired. My body needed rest, so I let it rest. I let myself start watching my favorite TV shows again even though they might take up five hours a week of my life, and I can only watch them in 20-minute increments.
Why? Because they made me happy. And if I was going to focus on me and my family, I needed to be happy. And relaxed. And caught up on The Bachelor and Project Runway. Don’t judge.
So no, as women we cannot have it all. You will always have to prioritize one thing over another. That’s just life. So don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s not worth the stress and the worry.
Seriously, I have been there and it was a disaster. Don’t punish yourself. Take time to do what makes you happy.
Previously published on the author’s blog