Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

I have to admit a gripe. I am tired of being force-fed the notion that as mothers we should be superwomen. That is the ideal set before us. The notion that “You can – and should – have it all! A thriving career! Well-adjusted, high-achieving children and a doting husband! A beautiful home with all the latest!”

I have five lovely daughters. And this is what I’m supposed to tell them? You can (and should) do anything you want. You really don’t need anyone. If you have kids one day, you deserve inexpensive childcare so that you can still pursue your dreams…while at the same time managing your home, serving nutritious meals, and attending concerts, sports events and dentist appointments. You can do it all, and you deserve to have it all.

Now, I am all for equality in women’s rights. I love it that my daughters are fortunate enough to be born and raised in a country that abounds with limitless opportunity. But could it be that what began as a noble push for female equality in so many ways has ballooned into something ugly – a narcissistic, hyper-individualized and unrealistic mindset among our girls? And that the promised “all” may not include happiness?

It seems that the message we so often hear in the ‘all-powerful girl’ narrative is one that is conspicuously missing a few vital elements. Never mind the superwomen that make Forbes’ list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. They are like anorexic supermodels – not likely to be found on your street. My personal chances of making that list are slim indeed. I’m talking about the majority of women struggling to balance work and family life. The ones who are stressed out trying to figure out how to get to school on time to pick up their kids. The ones who are lucky if they can catch 15 minutes of down-time during the day. The ones who suffer from perma-guilt for feeling that both their families and their career goals are being short-changed. This is not the ideal that I dream of for my daughters.

The UK’s Daily Mail, back in 2011, reported that “Depression in women doubles since the 1970s as they ‘try to have it all’…. Scientists say that the strain of trying to cope with having a family and pursuing a career is leaving women with a ‘tremendous burden.’” Right. This is preaching to the choir to many, if not most women who are in the midst of the juggle. CNN followed up last year with a blunt “You can’t have it all.”

I’m not advocating a return to the 1950’s. Here we are in 2016 and we should appreciate and take advantage of the many hard-won freedoms and opportunities before us.

But the ‘have it all’ message is seriously incomplete. The ‘cost’ of a happy and healthy family is missing in the equation – I mean our daughters’ own future families. There is no thriving brood of kids and stable marriage without some personal sacrifice – often a lot of personal sacrifice. Life can quickly become messy and derail plans. Something usually has to give. And that’s ok. Before our daughters get too far along their career paths, they could find themselves staring into the beautiful, life-changing eyes of a newborn. They will discover that being a parent is a demanding, full-time job. And that it’s impossible to be two places at once – in mind or body. The question of priorities will glare at them.

What’s missing from the ‘have it all’ message is also the truth that children are a sacred trust and that they are best cared for, if possible, by their parents, because no one else will love them as much. That they are worth spending our very precious time and energy on.

There are some women who seem to have wide open and uncluttered paths to pursue career dreams while enjoying a stable family. Those who have smallish families and supportive husbands with flexible schedules; who have financial comfort and the support of extended family, especially with childcare.

But for many, one or more of these elements are missing. Especially for mothers of larger families, the infant/toddler stage of life can last for many years. And it is practically impossible for these children not to put a major crimp in a young woman’s career aspirations.

So what will I tell my daughters? Live life fully, girls. Be grateful for the many opportunities before you as bright, capable young women, and confidently grasp those opportunities. Explore your talents and abilities. Dream big and shoot high – but place your dreams and career aspirations within the greater context of your future family, and the even greater context of God’s will for you. You can ‘have it all’, but maybe not all at the same time.

Don’t become guilt-ridden and depressed over the different track your personal aspirations may take when family demands become greater than expected. Ignore the condescending glances of those around you who feel that you are ‘missing out’ and that your abilities are being ‘wasted’ if you choose to stay home and care for your children. Careers can often shift to part-time or work-from-home arrangements, or be suspended, and then picked up at a later date.

So girls, can you have it all? Yes, probably. But if and when you reach that time in life that you see love and family coming your way, remember that it is no longer only about you. Keep your priorities – God, family, personal career goals – in mind even as you plan for the future. My wish for you is that you flourish in every area. So that at the end of a hopefully long and abundant life, you will look back and know that you put love first.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Zrinka Peters

Zrinka lives on 35 acres in MN with her husband, six kids and an ever-changing number of furry and feathered creatures. She loves book clubs, flowerbeds, and successful gluten-free baking. One of her greatest hopes is to lead her children to love deeply. She sometimes catches a few minutes to write in between snacks, laundry, and kid catastrophes. She hopes to make her little corner of the world a better place one word at a time.

Brothers Fight Hard and Love Harder

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two boys play outside, one lifting the other on his back

The last few years have been a whirlwind. My head has sometimes been left spinning; we have moved continents with three boys, three and under at the time. Set up home and remained sufficiently organized despite the complete chaos to ensure everyone was where they were meant to be on most days. Living in a primarily hockey town, the winters are filled with coffee catch-ups at the arena, so it was no surprise when my youngest declared his intention to play hockey like his school friends. Fully aware that he had never held a hockey stick or slapped a puck,...

Keep Reading

Stop Putting an Expiration Date on Making Memories

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and son in small train ride

We get 12 times to play Santa (if we’re lucky). This phrase stopped my scroll on a Sunday evening. I had an idea of the direction this post was going but I continued on reading. 12 spring breaks 12 easter baskets 20 tooth fairy visits 13 first days of school 1 first date 1-2 proms 1-2 times of seeing them in their graduation cap and gown 18 summers under the same roof And so on and so on. It was essentially another post listing the number of all the monumental moments that we, Lord willing, will get to experience with our...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

Go Easy On the Parents Who Refuse to Skip Naps

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two little boys and their sister walking down a gravel road, color photo

Greetings from a mom who is done with napping children. It’s great to have the flexibility during the day for longer activities, meeting friends for playdates, or day trips to faraway places. It’s a new life . . . the life without naps. The freedom to make plans and keep them. But not that long ago, I was something very different than the flexible, plan-keeping, up-for-it woman I am today. I used to be the mom who refused to skip my child’s nap. Yep, that one. Here’s the thing, for a lot of parents, It’s so much more than just a...

Keep Reading

My Heart Isn’t Ready for You to Stop Believing in Santa

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing in front of lit christmas tree

“My friend doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, Mom,” my son said out of the blue the other day. We were driving in the car, and when I met his gaze in the rear-view mirror his eyes searched mine. Immediately, my heart sank.  This sweet boy, he’s our first. Thoughtful and smart and eight years old. A quick Google search tells me that’s the average age kids stop believing in Santa, but as his mom, I’m not ready for that—not even a little bit.  I can still hear his barely 2-year-old voice going on about reindeer as we lay together on...

Keep Reading

Motherhood is a Million Little Letting Gos and Fresh Hellos

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with child on her lap by the setting sun and water

I missed my grocery-shopping buddy the other day. Mondays are usually the days my littlest and I knock out our grocery list. In the past, we’ve dropped the kids at school and then headed to the store. I grab a latte, and she chooses a hot chocolate. But that day, they were all in school. That day, she sat in her kindergarten class, and I went to the grocery store. Alone. A new rhythm. A changed routine. A different season. I listened to a podcast on the drive. My podcast. Then I grabbed a drink. Just one. I got the...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, This Is My Wish for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugs three kids

To my kids, The world you’re stepping into is unlike anything I experienced at your age. It’s fast-paced, interconnected, and sometimes overwhelming. But within this chaos lie countless opportunities for growth and joy. My wish for you is that you find the perfect balance between embracing the modern world and staying true to yourselves. Change is one thing you can always count on. Embrace it because it’s often the motivation for growth. Embracing change doesn’t mean letting go of who you are; rather, it’s about evolving into the best version of yourself. Remember, you don’t need to have all the...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Stay Wild

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach, color photo

I can’t really put my finger on it. Or manage to find all the words. But there’s just something about that girl. Maybe it’s the way her hair sits tangled. Curled up at the end. The way she moves. Dances. As if everyone was watching. Or no one at all. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine It could be the way she smiles. With her heart. The way only she can. The way she cares, loves. For everyone. For herself. You see, she is beautiful in the way only wild things are. The way they...

Keep Reading

You’re Becoming a Big Sister, But You’ll Always Be My Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Pregnant woman with young daughter, color photo

The anticipation of welcoming a new baby into the world is an exciting and joyous time for our family. From the moment we found out we were expecting to just about every day since, the love and excitement only continue to grow. However, amidst all the preparations for the new addition, I cannot help but have mixed emotions as I look back at old videos and pictures of my firstborn, my first princess, my Phoebe—for she will always hold a special place in my heart. As the anticipation grows, my heart swells with a mix of emotions knowing we are...

Keep Reading

Cowgirls Don’t Cry Unless the Horse They Loved Is Gone

In: Grief, Kids, Loss
Little girls Toy Story Jessie costume, color photo

The knee of my pants is wet and dirty. My yellow ring lays by the sink—it’s been my favorite ring for months. I bought it to match Bigfoot’s halter and the sunflowers by his pasture. Bigfoot is my daughter’s pony, and I loved him the most. The afternoon is so sunny. His hooves make the same calming rhythm I’ve come to love as I walk him out back. A strong wind blows through the barn. A stall labeled “Bigfoot,” adorned with a sunflower, hangs open and I feel sick. I kneel down by his side as he munches the grass....

Keep Reading