Recently I came across this post on a forum. It asked, “When it comes to having a family + career, do you think it is possible to have it all? Have you made the decision NOT to have it all because it is easier for your family, or conversely decided to go for it and try to have it all?”
It certainly raised an eyebrow if not two or three and something in me wanted to respond as I never really quite thought about this. The more I thought about it, the more it inspired me to respond.
I gave my response and I think I will expand upon it here as I feel that it’s a topic which is worthy of diving deeper into.
It’s also interesting to see what some of the other replies were and these 2 stood out:
1. Quentin Bryce (first female Governor-General of Australia) nailed it when she said (paraphrasing) “Women can have it all but not at the same time”.
2. The Today’s Modern Woman image to the right. This in a way highlights what Quentin Bryce mentioned.
Funny how both (and most of the replies) were all focused around women having the ability to have it all, just not all at once. Firstly, why can’t men have it all? Next, most seem to think having it all is a myth and it’s very hard or near impossible. I beg to differ.
Now before I dive into my story about having a family + career, I, like many others who replied to the original post have said that “having it all” is essentially quite subjective.
I choose to think of “having it all” as a form of expectation management. There’s a difference between wanting it all and having it all.
Let’s start with “wanting it all”.
Hypothetically, I want a house in the suburbs, a holiday home by the beach and a penthouse apartment in the city. I also want a job that pays me $2 million a year + bonuses that lets me have the flexibility to work from home and spend time with family if necessary. I want a happy, healthy family, beautiful wife, 2 kids (1 boy, 1 girl). I want to play golf 3 times a week and I want to lower my handicap to be 5 or less. etc etc.
So let’s be honest, the above is nothing but a wish list. We all “want” things in life no matter how big or small, these thing may or may not be necessary. Some of the examples above are obviously not realistic and some of it is actually achievable, so the more rational ones may move into my “having it all” list.
So this brings me to “having it all”.
I have a house in the suburbs, I have a decent job in a large firm with stability that pays well enough for my wife to not have to work and it is quite flexible so I can set my own hours and only go into the office two or three times a week if necessary. I know my responsibilities and my manager and I have a mutual respect and we know what to expect from each other. I have a beautiful & understanding wife and a healthy and adorable 1 month old baby boy. I am also getting back into my routine of having a weekly game of golf again although my handicap seems to be going up and not down. I have chosen to have all of these things. These things didn’t come easily and I had to work hard for all of it, but they were important to me so I put my head down and got crackin’.
These are all elements of my life now which I expected at this stage. I honestly believe that in my opinion, I HAVE IT ALL (at this point in time*). I don’t need anything else to be happy. I love where I am now in my life. Whilst it is important for others to have more (or less) this is my happy place/medium. That is why this is so subjective.
I’m very happy with my career and the balance with my family life thus far. *Although I know that life throws many curve balls at us and as much as I like to plan ahead, I believe we just have to adapt and reset our expectations if and when necessary. I’m sure many families in Queensland who were affected by the tragic floods had to dust themselves off and move on and hit the reset button so to speak. I’m sure a lot of them had it all, things change… but Aussies are resilient and we’re known to be great battlers! I’m sure they too will have it all again soon enough!
We should all be given the chance to have our cake and eat it too.
I’ve taken the first bite and let me tell you, it’s delicious! :)