Women can’t have it all? Bollocks
There is nothing that irks me more than someone telling me I can’t do something.
So when I see this rhetoric in the media:
“Women can’t have it all”
“Women CAN have it all, just not all at once”
I get irked.
For those of you wondering what the heck ‘all’ is, well the media tends to boil it down to being both a top mother and a top careerist. So, every time a female CEO decides to turn her back on her career and head home to be there for her kids, it is seen as proof that women can’t have it all. Every time a female CEO declares that she will return to work two weeks after having a baby, it is seen as proof that women can’t have it all.
Which bring me to the three beefs I have with the concept of ‘all’.
The first is that apparently ‘all’ is the same for every woman who values both their career and motherhood. I don’t even know where to start with the wrong-ness of this assumption so I’ll just say this – everyone’s ‘all’ is different because we all have different priorities. End of story.
Which segues nicely to my second beef. The concept of ‘all’ ignores the fact that when you become a parent your priorities change drastically. Which means your definition of ‘all’ changes drastically too.
I was one of those women who was a bit scared of losing their identity when they had their baby. I really liked being a business owner and an athlete and didn’t like the thought of being ‘just’ someone’s mum. In fact I told my husband if he wanted to be a stay-at-home-dad, then I would LOVE to be the person that got to go to work every day.
Then my baby arrived in the world and I did not want to be away from him for once second. I remember the first meeting I had to go to after he was born – my sister literally had to push me out the door and bundle me into the car. I planned to be back in the office three months after the birth but when the day came, I just couldn’t do it. In the end it took closer to 10 months before I felt ready to truly cut the umbilical cord.
So when a female decides to walk away from her career for a little while in order to concentrate on her role as a mother – this isn’t an example of her not being able to have it all, it is an example of her changing her personal definition of what all is.
My third little beef is that many people create a perfect world scenario, think that’s their all, and then get really unhappy because “see, it’s true what they’re saying, I really can’t have it all.”
My own perfect world features a butler, a cook and a chauffeur but it is pretty well removed from reality unless I win the lottery. My ‘all’ on the other hand involves a life that is financially secure, relatively stress free, challenges my mind and affords me a certain number of hours each day to hang out with my husband and child.
And I am happy to report that, generally speaking, this is my reality. This life hasn’t just happened though, I have made it happen. I have actually worked really hard to make it happen by first identifying my true priorities and then actively seeking the help I needed to achieve my goal. This help comes from outside my home (childcare, cleaner, eating out etc) and inside my home (awesome husband and family).
So while I realise that not everyone in the world has access to the same choices and resources I have and while I am sure many would consider it irresponsible of me to sit here and preach to other women that “for god’s sake, of course you can have it all” … consider this and tell me if you think it’s true:
Women are the ones who make things happen for everyone else. Maybe it’s time to start making things happen for ourselves.
Got some thoughts on the above? Share away in the comments below!