As women, we are often told we can’t have it all, and that it’s either/or. Either we are good mothers, or we have successful careers. Because god forbid we should be good at both!
There’s even that episode of Sex and the City where Samantha claims her and the girls have it all, only for her curtain rod and her immunity to come crashing down, shattering her belief system, even if for just a little while.
But is that really true? Can we have it all? And do we even want it all?
As I’m writing this, I’m trying to take stock of my own life. Do I have it all?
Personally, I was always labeled as a career woman, from a very young age. Back then, I was no more than a career child, but I was always ambitious and driven, and knew exactly what I wanted to build for myself.
When I announced I was pregnant with my first child (at 28), some of my friends and business acquaintances were honestly shocked. How can you have a child now, I was asked. It will completely derail your career!
Mother of two
When I had my second daughter two years later, I got the same kinds of intrusive comments.
How are you going to cope with two kids and that job of yours (I was working at a marketing agency at the time), you won’t have time for the girls and a full time job. You get the idea.
Turns out, I have had time, and still have, for both. And allow me to let you in on the big secret.
All or nothing
In an overly (yet covertly) misogynistic world, where men demand that women give up their titles because it “sounds comic”, in a world where girls are still denied an education in nearly half the countries in the world, can we really expect to be applauded for our efforts?
When a woman chooses to devote her energy to her kids, a portion of society will label her as antiquated or taking the easy way out. After all, she is now relying on her husband for support, as opposed to paying her own way.
When a woman chooses to build one of those high-powered careers for herself that surpass the men in her league, she’s called a man-eater, heartless, cold, and a whole host of other terms I’m not going to repeat here. Can we just remember Miranda Priestly?
And, when a woman chooses to have both – kids and a very successful career, instead of seeing her as a source of inspiration, we drag her down and tell her she can’t possibly be good at both. That she will either be bad at her job, or raise inadequate kids.
The crux of the matter
What I am about to say might be a bit of an unpopular opinion. However, I firmly believe that the women’s movement is about choice. About the ability and the right to choose what you want to do with your time on earth, free of judgement and prejudice.
If a woman decides she wants to be a stay-at-home mom, she needs to be able to fulfill that dream. If she chooses to run her own tech company, she should be able do that too. And if she wants both, what’s there to say that she can’t do it?
In reality, the only thing that dictates if you can have it all is time.
There are 24 hours in every day, and if you can fill those 24 hours with enough sleep, exercise and good food to keep yourself healthy, and find enough time to spend with your kids, your husband or wife, doing your job, watching Netflix and taking the dogs out for a walk – then there truly are no limitations.
Remember – the kids will grow up, and they won’t need your attention 24/7. If you make the time your kids and your career, well, you can live an incredibly full life. And even if you don’t – channel your inner Michelle Obama, the woman who has proven the sky is not the limit!
Discover your all
I urge you to ask yourself what it is that you actually want. Don’t listen to society, your parents, your significant other. Listen to the voice inside your head exclusively, and decide what you want to do with the time given you.
If you don’t want to have kids, teach yourself how to survive the pressure others will put on you to try and change your mind. And if you don’t want a career, come up with a witty answer to the intrusive questions. If you want to be the first woman on Mars, just find a way to get in touch with Elon Musk.
A personal wishlist
Finally, let me tell you how I realized I can actually do everything I wanted.
I adopted a dog in college. He was a French Spaniel, as I wanted a breed that was super sweet and snuggly, and despite everyone telling me I had no time for a dog, that the dog would be lonely and misbehave, that I would have no time to study – Jack taught me I can do it. Take care of him and myself, and graduate summa cum laude.
I realized I could have kids and still work. And that neither having kids nor working needs to trip me up, or prevent me from doing whatever it is I want to do – including going out dancing with my husband on a Wednesday night.
You’ll forgive me if I part with a quote adapted from Maya Angelou and a bit of Oprah:
“Make yourself proud to spell your name w.o.m.a.n. – whether you choose to spend your days raising happy humans, breaking the glass ceiling, or living a quiet, contented life no one may ever read about, but that puts a smile on your face every single morning.”
About The Author
About Julia Robson: Julia is the mum of two girls and two pups, a self-employed work-from-home wife and an expert librarian who can always find a book her kids will love to read next. She has always been a writer at heart and has finally found a way to let her creative side show – you can read some of her work on Medium