Can women "have it all" -- the career, the kids, all of it? Yes, with sacrifice. Because when we give 100% of ourselves to one thing, we can't give to another in that moment. That's just how it works.
Life Parenting

“Having It All” in Motherhood

Can women "have it all" -- the career, the kids, all of it? Yes, with sacrifice. Because when we give 100% of ourselves to one thing, we can't give to another in that moment. That's just how it works.

By Angela Glenn

In the early days of motherhood, I came across this article about whether women today could “have it all”. The argument at the end was we could only have it all at different times, never at the same time. For years, I think I tried to prove that argument wrong. I could have the career and motherhood and be great and successful at both simultaneously.

I was on a chase of superwoman, so sure I could master the impossible balancing act. However, after mishap after mishap, from losing the family Christmas tree down the interstate, to dropping my toddler under the table as the waitress approached the table, to checking out at the local Walmart with $300 worth of groceries only to leave in tears because the money was in a different account I forgot to move it from, to miscarriages and postpartum depression breakdowns, to having to call off work at the last minute to deal with everything from sicknesses and pink eye to the dreaded childhood lice outbreak, I realized I would never catch up to superwoman or have it all. 

No matter what angle I worked things from over the years, more times than not I found myself standing in the middle of the storm where the chaos of my working mom life whirled around me like an F5 tornado.

When I’m doing my best at work and throwing myself 110% into it, I’m cutting out doing things with my kids. I’m not making it to eat lunch with them like “all the other parents do” or chaperoning field trips. When I’m dedicating myself to being there at all my kids’ activities night after night and making quality time for them on the weekends, I’m never getting the work I’m behind on finished.

When I’m throwing myself into my kids or my career, it’s like the house tumbles down around me with laundry crawling up the walls and science experiments growing on the dirty dishes in the sink. No matter where I throw my focus — my career or my family — all too often I see where I fall short first. I first see the messes, I hear the ridiculous loudness that I swear could bring the house down sometimes, I know the list of everything around here that needs to be done.

I’m not necessarily saying I’m throwing in the flag of surrender on this debate, but as the years pass me by in this career mom journey, I’m seeing the truth of this argument has so many shades of gray. Unfortunately, when I feel I’m at my best at one, I’m usually not my best at the other.

I know I pull myself too thin and should probably examine cutting something back. But despite the chaos that erupts from too much sometimes,  I love doing it all—I love our crazy active family lifestyle, I do more times than not love my career, and I love the opportunities to pursue my passions. Some of them do get the short end of the stick while something else gets the best me. Something always has to be sacrificed at some point.

No, motherhood is not all unicorns and rainbows. But I’m learning to see it all a little differently. It’s a splattered canvas painted with the sporadic chubby hands of young babes. There’s no rhyme or reason half the time to the way the days unfold, but the final product somehow turns out to be a beautiful picture with all the bright and dull colors that make up our days.

One day I will have my life together and it won’t seem like I’m constantly in a state of chaos. But at that point my career will be over, my children will be grown, and life will seem quietly lonely, so I’m learning to embrace the chaos and crazy that is this stage of life. Though it may seem hectic and overwhelming in the moment, I know I’m also going to miss this.

Even though it really can be a stressful balancing act moment by moment, I’m betting in the end, most of us moms will look back at our former selves and think, “That girl had it all back then and she didn’t even know it.”


About the Author

Angela Williams Glenn writes about the struggles and joys of motherhood on her website Stepping into Motherhood. Her book Moms, Monsters, Media, and Margaritas examines the expectations verse the realities of motherhood in our modern day digital era and her book Letters to a Daughter is an interactive journal for mothers to their daughters. She’s also been published with Chicken Soup for the Soul, Her View from Home, That’s Inappropriate, and Perfection Pending. You can find her on her facebook page at. Stepping into Motherhood.