Having It All - Dover,DE

Updated on November 07, 2013
L.C. asks from Dover, DE
19 answers

Hi All,

I was watching a talk show on television and the host had on a group of six women and they were debating whether or not women could "have it all." The women were split into two groups of three with one side saying yes they could and one saying no they couldn't. As a rule I hate these hot button topics and I hate when women are pitted against each other, especially moms. It's hard enough to rear children and wade through the often confusing issues without making enemies of the very people who are going through the same thing you are. I wanted to hear what they had to say, though, because I wanted to see if the climate had changed in regard to this issue.

The more I heard the more frustrated I became. The host started ticking off what "having it all" entailed, one point at a time and the women each debated them point by point. Apparently having it all is having a rewarding career, an outstanding marriage, amazing well rounded children involved in activities and what I call "stuff and things" and a rich social life. The one thing that kept repeating in my mind was, "Who decided THAT was the definition of having it all?" By that definition I don't have it all and neither do most women. I wonder if they know they are unfulfilled? If you ask me on any given day I will most likely tell you that I have it all because I have everything in my life that I need to fill challenged and fulfilled. I'm a stay at home mom, I have a good marriage, I have kids of varying skill sets and abilities who are happy and know they are loved, and I have great friends. Why can that not be "it all"?

We went through the feminist revolution so that women could have the same opportunities men did and so that we could define our own roles, but now it's happening again to the other extreme and, worse yet, we often do it to ourselves and each other. The only person who should be allowed to decide whether I have it all is me.

So, my questions are these? What does having it all mean to you and do you have it? Have you ever been made to fill like you aren't enough or doing enough or have settled when you feel that you are exactly where you want to be doing what you want to do? How do you handle people who tell you that you are "doing it wrong"?

This isn't an opportunity to bash each other or tell why someone else is "doing it wrong". We as moms and women get enough of that without piling on each other. I just want to know what makes other women happy and how they define success.

What can I do next?

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answers from Appleton on

I remember reading many - many years ago a defination of success:

Success is have the home and family life you have always wanted - the career you have always wanted - - - and the sense to enjoy it.

To me that would be having it all.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

To me, having it all is different for every person. Different people get more or less satisfaction out of different things. So, it's a pointless debate because there is no right or wrong answer! I'm pretty happy with working part time in a science job, being home part time with my kids, making art (just a little) and selling it in a local gallery which is fun, getting outside with my family on the weekends. I have an awesome husband. I feel like I have a great life. What could be better in my life? We always feel like money is a bit tight (don't most people?!). I could work full time so we could have more money, but I just don't want to yet....I like having that extra time with my kids. So, I'll suck it up on that. I could have an even better job but I'm just thankful I could find something part time that I like. I wish I had more time to hang out with friends. Life is just so busy. Honestly, most of the time I hear this debate between women (on the news mostly...not with any real women I know) and I think it's pretty inane.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Reading on

I consider myself a progressive feminist. I chose a traditional path, not because a man told me I had to or because society told me I had to, but because it was what I truly wanted and felt was best in my heart of hearts.

I have a PhD and was a professor at a large university. A dream job that I had prepared for for many years. Soon after getting pregnant with our first child, 9/11 happened, causing my husband and me to reexamine our priorities and the changes coming in our lives. My salary was a fraction of his and I couldn't see paying the bulk of my salary to a day care to do the job that I ultimately wanted to do myself. So I did the unthinkable and I quit to stay home with my kids.

I have never looked back. I have started my own business that I can do at home. I have gone on almost every field trip. I have seen every concert. I've been a scout leader for both kids. I've saved us more money at home than if I had been working and paying for services and lunches and wardrobe.

I chose a traditional path because I HAD that choice. Many of my colleagues looked down on me for that because women in academia rarely do what I did. We work too hard to get where we are. But if I had stayed, it wouldn't have been for me - it would have been to honor my fellow women at the expense of myself and my family. What kind of choice is that? After all - if we don't exercise our right to choose, then what kind of choice do we really have? If we "have it all" because society tells us we're supposed to want it all, then in the end, we are simply slaves to society instead of slaves to our husbands and we're no better off than we were in the 1920s. In my opinion, my choice to stay home DOES honor women and feminists because I actually had the opportunity to choose and did what we, as a family, and I for myself decided was best.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think if you feel like you have it all, then you probably do.
I do.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

I used to think "having it all" were the things mentioned here: good education, good career, financially comfortable, big house, car, etc. etc.

I am currently doing a bible study on the book of Matthew. Matthew 6:19-21 says Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

What has really made me stop and think is striving for the things mentioned above isn't necessarily bad and they can certainly be enjoyed, but beating yourself up to attain them or feeling like you have fallen short because you haven't, isn't the end goal of this life. This life is so short. These things do not matter if you think in terms of eternity.

To me, what makes a life purposeful or successful is being a good servant that pleases God. If He can use me for His purposes, I know my family, friends and anyone else I come in contact with on a daily basis will be blessed for it. That is essentially what I want. Everything else is bonus!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Wow - good questions. I think each of us needs to define what our priroties are and what fulfills us. There is no one size fits all answer because we are all different. This debate could go on forever. The sad part is if we look to others to define what it means to have it all.... etc. we'll never live up to that and never really do what we need or makes us happy. Good conversation, but ultimately you have to do what makes you happy and "fills you up" and gives you peace. That's a journey that never ends....

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I agree! It's your own, personal definition. No one can tell you what "having it all" means. There are so many different women, families and ideas of what your perfect life would be. I know that what I would consider as having it all is not what the lady down the road would consider as her's.

I will say that for the most part, I DO feel like I have it all. I have a very devoted, loving husband/father and 4 healthy, smart, beautiful children. Sure, we have one more than we "planned" on, but she's here. SHe's crazy. And I love her. Plus, I get to work part-time to get me out and about, make a little extra money, but am still home for the important stuff. I feel lucky. I'm not sure it's something that I have "worked" on-like I strive for these things. I do the best I can with what I've got. That's all I can do. And I'm ok with it! :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

If your whole family is basically happy, you have it all.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

If you are content with your life, you have it all. Not ecstatically happy at all times, just simply content. That deep feeling that all is right in your personal life. You like what you have and you have what you like. And you wouldn't change a thing.

So, yeah, I have it all.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think those definitions of "having it all" are pretty accurate: it's having every possible aspect of your life in perfect working order.

Do I have it all? Nope....and I don't WANT it! I have what's important to me: a wonderful, supporting, loving husband...healthy, happy, vibrant children....fun, compatible friends....a close and crazy extended family....and a snuggly puppy :) I don't have a career because I never wanted one. I always wanted to be a mom and am literally living my dream.

I've been asked before if I'm happy being "just a mom" and I always answer with an enthusiastic YES! I'm happy in my life and don't give two craps about what other people think I should be doing with it. My children and husband are the center of my life and I'm happy not to have to try and navigate a career as well.

I feel badly for those women who do feel that pressure, and subsequently feel like they're failing when they don't achieve the unachievable. And I do believe that having ALL of "it all" is impossible.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You do have it all!

What you described as your life being like, is what I deem important, rich
and "having it all".

I do think it means different things to different people in varying degrees.

Again, your description epitomizes, or should epitomize, what is important in life.

All I want is for my kids to be healthy and happy. I am healthy and happy so I feel "rich" in so many ways.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

All these gals totally hit the nail on the head - I agree!

Sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for, you know? Having everything you mentioned means a lot of balls in the air to juggle...before you know it, you're just trying to survive your life and maintain - forget thriving!

I think it was Bill Cosby who said "I don't know the key to success, but I can tell you the key to failure is trying to please everyone". Please your family, please your boss, please the PTA, please your pastor, please your social circle (many times the women in these "circles" aren't even friends!)...it just makes sense that something has to give.

I think everyone needs to decide what means the most to them and put their energies there. Many people put a TON of energy into things I couldn't give a hoot about...and that's fine! Someone has to do each of the things but no ONE has to do them all.

For my part, I think I have it all: a loving husband who is helpful and involved in every aspect of our family, two beautiful children, a rewarding job, a modest but cozy and safe home in a beautiful area, a strong faith and a loving extended family - even my in-laws. I am blessed. I don't do everything perfectly, but I'm content and I feel purposeful and fulfilled.

PS: Unless you're a total screw-up and someone is trying to stage an intervention, who on earth says you're "doing life wrong"?! I don't imagine there would be any further conversations which such a person...=)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

My definition of "having it all" means a roof over our head, 3 squares, a car that runs reliably, genuinely kind kids, and friends and family to share "it all" with. While I have regretted parts of my life not being in perfect balance (I do have to work-- because I own my own business), I have to say that it isn't necessarily getting that perfect balance, whatever that is for each woman, but having the opportunity to PURSUE whatever it is that you value-- be it staying at home with your kids, having a gratifying career, or whatever your vision is! As far as how I handle people who tell me that 'I'm doing it wrong'-- I don't have time to worry about them, and as long as it isn't my husband saying that-- I just have to trust my instincts, navigate my reality, realize it isn't going to be perfect, and keep hugging those kids!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'm with you. I actually think it's sad that so many "feminists" don't understand that they are playing a game they didn't design. They don't even fight to make the game more fair! In fact, successful women tend to be bullish towards their fellow women! Telling women they need to lean in more to a table that is set up without regard for women's issues is silly!

Maybe one day we will have a party of real family values, one where we put family before capital and we rewrite the rules to make it easier for balance -- for both men and women. Until that day, I prefer to think I have it all by not playing a game that is set up to keep me away from my home!

I'm like Veruca Salt. I too gave up an academic career to stay home. Since doing so, I've formed 3 NFP, and I'm currently starting research on a book. But I have a very traditional relationship with my hubby (well, I also take care of the yard, including the lawn, and I do our financial planning). I love my life, and I love that I have the opportunity to stay home and unschool my little ones. Life couldn't really be any better!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think that having it all means if hubby drops dead tomorrow and his income stops I still can live the life I have now without him. I can support myself, work to support the kids, have enough to buy groceries, do some activities, and not sit home worrying about how I'm going to pay the bills on a minimum wage job.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Veruca Salt pretty much sums up ,more eloquently, what I would like to say.

I feel so blessed and fortunate to have the life I have. It is a beautiful,peaceful,joyful and fulfilling life. It is one I chose and one my husband and I have built together. Choice is the underlying theme here. I am so grateful that I have the options available to me to choose an abundant life...whatever that looks like to me. An abundant life may look very different to another woman..but that is the beautiful thing..we can choose. We are not limited as many women before me were.

I chose to get a degree without ever planning to use it to contribute financially to our family. When we first got pregnant, I chose to quit teaching, and not renew my contract so that I could be home with our children and create the life and home environment we planned together. I find it so fulfilling to be home full time, even still as my kids are all in all day school. But that is me..that is not what others might find fulfilling.

I would choose to work if I had to for our family to survive...but I don't have a desire to have a career to fulfill myself. I am an ongoing project...always learning new things, meeting new people and getting involved in the schools and community. I love the availability afforded to me to choose our family's path... without having a career limiting that goal. I will probably go find a job after the kids are grown and gone...but then..maybe not.

I don't know what others think of my life's path..and frankly I could care less. Just as I don't care what they have chosen. I live for my family..not theirs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I don't think I have it all. Not sure what "it all" is, but I do feel as though sometimes things are too hectic, and sometimes I feel unfulfilled.

My "all" I guess, would be a happy, fulfilling marriage; happy, smart, polite and well-adjusted kids; a house that stayed presentable most of the time; time to spend with a multitude of friends (without the mommy guilt of leaving family to do it); time to spend with extended family; enough money for wonderful yearly vacations; hmmm....not thinking a job would truly be on my wish list... ;)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes, I have it all. My family is happy and healthy, my home is full of love, and we have strong faith. The other things contribute to my life, but are not necessary to my happiness.

Having it all is likely different for each person, and I don't think we need a talk show to define it (although the talk shows are interesting to listen to sometimes), so I agree with you completely.

*I do have a career that I love.



answers from Richmond on

I'd like to have more family, friends and time but otherwise, I do have it all. Is it perfect - NOT AT ALL - but it is what I always wanted. I have a loving husband, 2 kids, a beautiful house and a nice job. Do I feel "fulfilled" at my job - not really but it's pretty stable, I make a good salary and I love the people I work with. Is my house perfect - no, it frequently needs to be cleaned and needs a ton of work (we just bought a foreclosure) but it's in the neighborhood of our dreams! Is my husband perfect - nope, he has a strong tendency to let me do everything but he works hard (at work, not home), lavishes me with love and attention and doesn't drink, smoke, do drugs or womanize. My kids - well they are challenges unto themselves but they are unique and amazing. I think the reason we all feel so unfulfilled is because we have all bought into this fantasy of perfection - a goal no one will ever attain. Guilty myself on this one but am trying to change!

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