It Really Sucks That You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

What do you think? Does having it all kinda suck?

Okay first, allow me to check my privilege so you don't have to: I am a white woman with a college education. I am married. I live in a beautiful little town in the mountains. I have a career I genuinely like. I am one lucky bitch.

And yet. Here's what “having it all” really looks like, in my experience:

The other day I was walking down the street to get my mail, feeling pretty pleased with myself. I have a 3.5-year-old, and I had a baby exactly one month ago. In that month, I have worked almost constantly and it has paid off: I have made enough money to pay all my family's bills and keep my husband's business afloat. I have produced quality work that I'm proud of. And not once have I mentioned to anyone that I just had a baby.

Right about the time I was congratulating myself on these “accomplishments,” a not unsubstantial amount of pee just came pouring out of me. I was wearing light-grey sweatpants, so it was pretty obvious. Kind of embarrassing when my neighbor walked by and waved. By the time I got home, it was time to dial into a conference call, so I had to sit in those pee pants for quite a while.

Thankfully, the baby stayed asleep and quiet during that call but woke up screaming to be fed as soon as it ended, so another half hour in the pee pants. Burped the baby. Got throw-up in my hair, but no time to do anything about it so just threw it back in a clip. Boom. Quickly changed pee pants. Ready for more work. Throw it at me world, I am a strong woman and I have it all and I have got this.

At 5, my other kid comes charging into the room, asking if I've made the brownies I promised him earlier. I have not. Then my husband asks what the plan is for dinner. So, I throw the baby into a sling, go downstairs, sort out dinner and brownies.

“Shit.”

“Uh oh, what?”

“I think I popped a stitch.”

“What? How do you know? Isn't that bad?”

“Well it definitely feels not right down there, and yeah it probably is bad, but realistically what am I going to do about it?”

Back upstairs. Shower, finally. The wound formerly known as my vagina is definitely stinging (seriously, at my postpartum checkup, here is what my doctor said “the stitches are almost dissolved but your wound is still healing.” Gross.) Then back in bed, icepack on crotch, baby on boob, laptop on lap.

I have not left this room except to grab food from the kitchen in a month. I took precisely one day off to have a baby. Let that sink in for a minute. Lucky for me, this room has a full bathroom attached.

Here's the stack of laundry I'm staring at. (Look at my disgusting feet too, btw. That nail polish is at least two months old.)

That's a bag of poopy diapers sitting two feet away from me. Right next to the other giant stack of laundry. It really smells like diarrhea in here.

I'm not a single mom. In fact, my husband helps out way more than the average husband or father. I'm not working minimum wage jobs, I'm not really disadvantaged in any way except that I am a working mother in the United States.

Here's what I think is going on: this whole “having it all” business has been grossly misinterpreted by our society at large. The purpose of all that bra burning back in the '60s was to give women choices.

You wanna have sex without getting pregnant? Cool, hit that.

You're pregnant but in no position to raise a baby (or were sexually assaulted and impregnated, or are pregnant with a severely ill or deformed baby, or any number of other scenarios)? No problem, you can choose not to have that baby.

You want to go to work? Do it!

You want to stay at home and raise kids? Great.

You want to do a little bit of both? Groovy.

You want to be stylish and wear makeup? Or frumpy and never wash? Hey, you do you.

Doing all of it at the same time was never the idea. By that definition, single working moms have been “having it all” for ages and yet society does not hold the single working mom up as the goal for women everywhere. No, no, that's just what happens when you're poor and have no choice. Except actually, that's what happens to all but the very very rich when you encourage women to work and have children but don't change any other part of the world they live in.

You can check out the rest of this awesome article on Huff Post Endeavor. When you're finished, leave a comment and weigh in on whether or not you can have it all without sacrificing something.


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