All of this talk lately of women having it all made me feel compelled to share my thoughts on it.
My first thought is, what is ALL anyway? And if I have it ALL, what is left to strive for?
For me ALL means happy, healthy and safe children. It’s a good marriage to a good man. It’s a career that makes me use my brain every day. It’s not feeling guilty about having time for myself and time to volunteer to help others. All includes having enough money in the bank that I always have groceries but not so much that I get lazy. It’s a bonus to every now and then hear a “thanks”, an “I’m proud of you” and even a “you look nice today”. So, I guess based on this, I do have it ALL.
But for me the key to ALL is a definition that is a moving target.
Today’s happy child is not tomorrow’s happy child. I have to put effort into my role as parent every single day, and my kids are, for all intents and purposes, adults. This is far from a complaint, this parenting part of my life has been great. I am preparing myself for the pending empty nest and mourning the loss of my hands-on time as a parent. My relationship with my kids is evolving, it must continue to grow as they do, and as I grow as a person.
My marriage can only be as good as the effort we each put into it. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be with the right person; the person that will share the work to have it ALL. I couldn’t possibly have it all without an equal partner. Equal in housework (mostly). Equal in parenting. Equally valued for our careers. And there’s the mutual love, respect and passion we have for each other. I am a better partner because I know myself better and expect more of myself, I know it’s ok to have high expectations of him too.
It took me until I was in my 30s before I realized how much I enjoyed engaging my brain every single day. Right now that looks like technology, but if something equally engaging came along I’d look into it. With my youngest kid about to graduate I keep getting asked about retiring. I can’t think about that, what would I possibly do?
You get the idea. What ALL is to me and what ALL is to you would, should, be different. Maybe you don’t WANT the kids. Maybe you like being single (I don’t, I really like the guy I have. He’s smart, he’s cute, he respects me, he challenges me.). Maybe you work with your hands more than I do. Maybe something else in your life is such a drain that the thought of volunteering exhausts you.
But really, at the end of the day, do you want it all? Anyone that has is all has worked their ass off to get there and will likely never be satisfied, that’s how they got where they are in the first place.