The debate over whether women can have it all has been ongoing for many years now and probably it’s been quite exhausted over time. It’s a debate I’ve followed with interest, keen to understand different viewpoints and experiences. As a working mum, I’m constantly trying to find the right balance between self fulfillment and bringing up a family. Have I got it right? Well maybe, maybe not but I’m still interested in seeing how other people do it.
Recently a couple of things happened around me that really made me think about this again. Life is a merry-go-round, and us mums often feel like it’s turning and turning with no opportunity to get off. Some of us like it, others not so much. But what happens when life throws us a curve ball and tips the balance we strive to maintain?
Are we put under too much pressure to try to have it all? Shouldn’t we just find the balance that works for us and be happy with that? Surely if we keep striving to fit in more and more, find more success, be busier, work harder, aren’t we putting ourselves under too much strain? Work is great when it goes well, the children are happy and the routine is working, but when any element of your life goes awry and we’re under huge stress and pressure is it all worth it?
I have to say, I’m not sure it is. There comes a time when the stresses and strains take their toll and many just don’t want that any more. Is it weakness? Does it make you a failure? No, I don’t think it does. Actually I think it means you’re strong, in control and totally aware of when the balance needs re-adjusting. The ability to know when to put the brakes on and say no, or to be aware when you have the capacity to take on more, is something you learn over time. It comes from experience, from both the good and the bad times, and it makes us a stronger, better working mum.
It can take many years to gain the knowledge and confidence to say enough is enough. Learning to say no is an art form. Knowing that you don’t have to please everyone and do everything you are asked to do takes courage and a certain amount of self belief. Saying no to people can be a lifesaver for both you and your family and it’s an important factor in building self-awareness. Getting the balance right is one thing, but knowing when the balance needs adjusting is quite a different matter and something we should strive to attain, for our own benefit.
I do think we should have a piece of everything, but I’m not sure we can have everything all of the time. Certainly not when the children are younger. Self fulfillment is one thing, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of your health and happiness.
I would love to know whether you think we can or should have it all? Have you found the right balance?