There Is a Better Way to "Have It All"

Let's all agree "having it all" is hard, no matter what

Having it all is hard work
A great pic of having it all. Getty Images

In March 2016, the online premier of “Having It All” was hosted by FlexJob and 1 Million for Work Flexibility.  The film is now available on vimeo if you want to watch, what I consider a must-watch documentary Working Moms should see. 

I want to share my review and then a new definition for the elusive goal of "having it all", but guess what?  It's way more attainable.  You'll see!

My Review

The film “Having It All” accurately and acutely captured the real struggles we Working Moms experience when striving to have it all.

  That’s right.  You are not alone in your struggles, we all struggle with this foolish goal.

The film was about three very different women.  The stories they shared were beautifully told.  Although not all three were working moms the entire time, if at all, it showed that the real struggle is... real. 

One woman was married, serious about her demanding career, and seriously considering motherhood.  My take aways from her story were that caring for a child is a struggle no matter how much planning you do with your spouse.  The only way to see if responsibilities will be 50-50 is to just do it because talking and doing are two different things.  She also said a powerful statement which was to always question the path that’s laid before you.  Empowering stuff there.

The second woman had a toddler, worked while their child was an infant, stayed home during some of the toddler years, and then went back to work.

  My take aways from her were that communication is crucial between you and your spouse.  Her story made me question how good my communication style is with my husband because, to be truthful, it’s changed over the years.  It’s hard work to stay aware of how, when and what you are communicating to your spouse but it needs to be done in order to succeed at marriage.

  Also, she said when you are at work you value that intellectual connection with adults, that working together to create something is powerful, and that windows of opportunities are only open for a certain time.  When you’re home with your children you use a different kind of intelligence, especially emotional intelligence and that it's unfair that people question what you were up to when you decided to stay home with your children (sigh).

And the third woman was working, became pregnant, had a healthy baby, and went back to work. I felt connected to her story the most.  She shared the daycare woes that upset her.  She showed her raw emotions about drop off and if her baby would be ok.  You know, like how you felt that first day of drop off.  When she spoke of work after baby she said people want to see you the way you used to be, but that you might not be as visible for awhile.  This takes some adjustments and that it was important to her to be ok with doing less for awhile.

I loved the last line of the film.  One of the women was wondering out-loud “How could one know themselves so well before making a life altering choice?”  She was asking how could her friends have understood themselves so well before deciding to have kids or not.

  This struck a chord with me. I wholeheartedly believe that when you know who you are, when you fully understand and know deep down inside what your values and priorities are decision-making gets easier.  When you know your values and priorities you are able to make the right choices for you that are unique to you, in a flash.  It becomes intuitive.  Creating this knowledge makes “having it all”, at different times in your life, possible. 

What is Your View of “Having It All”?

So what is your “all”?  Is it, “Having a high paying successful career and crushing it when it comes to motherhood”?  If so, my friend, this will be a hard goal to hit. 

Trying to “have it all” is hard work.  This is what the webinar panel, that FlexJobs and  1 Million for Work Flexibility also sponsored, agreed on.  Here are the answers to what "having it all" means to them.

  • Life changes so much, from day to day, that there was and is never an ‘all’ that needs to be obtained.  There’s just always something new to do and we just need to ‘do’.
  • Before kids you have the ability to do all that you want to do.  After kids rarely do you have control over your time and it’s hard to accomplish what you want to accomplish.  To avoid giving in to the societal pressure of “doing it all” imagine your life is like surfing on a boogie board.  You need to learn which way to lean and keep your balance.
  • You always feel like you’re about to fall and that’s normal. 
  • Set the realistic expectations you can have it all just not all at once.
  • Go into working motherhood with the expectations that it’ll be difficult, no matter what.

This may sound dismal and hopeless, but it’s a truth that needs to be said so that we can all nod our heads in unison.  Enough comparing that one mother has it better than another.  We are all experiencing some amount of struggle and it’s about time we are all more truthful in our journey to “having it all”. 

A New Definition for “Having It All”

For me, having it all means that, most of the time, when I am doing “it”, meaning parenting or work, I’m giving it my “all”, and doing “it” so well that I feel like I “have” it.  Does that make sense? 

For example, when I’m leaving my kids for the day to give a talk, I’m excited to network, to share my knowledge, go beyond my comfort zone, and grow.  If drop off doesn’t go well, it doesn’t bring up guilt because I’m looking forward to what I’m about to do next.  Or when I jump off a client call and I can hear that one of my little ones are still awake I look forward to running upstairs and comforting them.  

Doesn't this seem more attainable than managing everything that you have all at once and at super women strength?  It comes down to be present in whatever it is that you want to do, in this moment.  This, my working mom friend, is possible.  This is a goal that we can all strive for, in our own way, with no comparison needed.

 Because only we would know when we are truly "having it all."