Having It All

Last week I read this article on Jezebel about women not giving a shit about having it all.

While the article is right on and I relate to it on SO many levels,it bothers me that women who are doing exactly what they want in life aren’t defining it as “having it all.” Even in an article about how women are perfectly content going to work — but NOT climbing the corporate ladder so that they can also enjoy raising a family – are being defined as “in betweeners” and “not ambitious.”

WTF? Why must it be so black and white?

How is living my life exactly how I want —  NOT HAVING IT ALL? What more should I want to have???

Sure, I’d love to go on more vacations, do more (or any) volunteering, and maybe hang out with my friends more – but, I’m perfectly content with my working mom status. I’d also like to have perfectly angelic children — but where’s the fun in that?

I think the title of the article bothered me more than anything… and obviously, it triggered something. It really it begs the question- why are we defining ourselves with what we DON’T have? And also, why AREN’T we deeming ourselves successful? Why does society feel the need to box women in just a few categories? And WHY IN GOD’S NAME do we feel like it’s always a competition?

I think what really struck a nerve with me is that even though this article was defending women like me – a mom who isn’t trying to rule the world – it still made me feel like they were saying we are inadequate. And believe me, we are NOT inadequate.

I work at a job that I enjoy.

I make a decent salary.

I use my Master’s Degree  and I feel like my students loans are actually WORTH IT.

I am able provide high-quality care for my kids and they LOVE IT. Seriously, they never want to LEAVE they love it so much.

I cook (relatively healthy) meals for my family 90% of the week.

My kids are my biggest cheerleaders and champions and (most of the time) they respect me.

I am married to a great guy who is an EQUAL parent.

I find time for ME. I have hobbies, I read books, I watch TV, I exercise.

I have traveled to more than 5 places in past 5 years (for work and pleasure).

Again, how is this not having it all? And more important – how is that not being ambitious? I feel like every damn day I am ambitious, but also, realistic.

Yes, my life is crazy and hectic and (most days) it’s nonstop. But it’s my crazy and hectic. And it’s fulfilling. TO ME.

Maybe in order to feel like we DO have it all, we need to need to stop labeling what “having it all” really means. It’s not just ONE THING to everyone. It’s not a stay at home mom vs. working mom thing either. You CAN have it all without kids, right?? I mean, not everyone wants them!!!  It’s also not really even a woman thing. It’s a HUMAN thing.  (Related sidenote: why don’t I ever see articles about men having it all???)

Instead of trying to “have it all” — why not just try to be happy? And if you aren’t happy? What’s stopping you from changing it?


How do you define “Having it all?” What’s making you want to rant today?


  1. Cherise says

    Most people don’t have peace! If you have peace you have it all:)
    Life is not about perfection it’s about enjoying what you do have.

    • says

      Ahh – so true! I definitely find my peace when I run. Sure, the world turns on again after I’m done, but that’s the beauty of finding something that helps you tune it all out!

  2. says

    Not having read the article yet, do you think the title implies that it’s no longer a competition to have what others in the past have classified as “having it all?” I agree with you in that we each get to define what it means to us. I’ve also never read an article about men & this topic either…I have read that dudes have more trouble with their work defining them rather than other aspects of their life (ie being a good father), which can be an equally negative measuring stick. Very interesting topic nonetheless. I’m over society telling me what to compare myself/life against…they keep changing their minds anyway! I think you have it all:-)
    Gina recently posted..Postpartum Week 16 (maintenance?)

  3. says

    Love your thoughts on this!

    Similar to this concept of “having it all = doing *everything*”, I hate the concept I’ve seen of work/life balance = 50/50 split of time/energy/effort. No, work/life balance means being content with whatever the ratio is, and not being so drained by work that you can’t enjoy life. And that ratio is going to look different for different people, and is going to be different than what someone’s ideal is at different times in their life.

    I work in accounting, and have probably taken myself off the “partner track” because I’ve chosen to work part time (30 – 35 hours per week) outside of tax season. (The result is that even working 50 – 60 hours a week for 3 months, my total hours for the year are around 2,080, the average for a normal 40 hours/week year-round full-time job.) But – this makes me happy! My salary is reduced from what it would be working full time (and 2,350 hours per year), but it’s still plenty high enough to live a comfortably on. I have time in the summer to take classes, train for a marathon, etc., and because of that extra free time I don’t resent hunkering down and working long hours during the spring. That’s what “having it all” means to me.
    Margaret recently posted..Post-Marathon Fitness Goals

  4. Heather says

    I love what you have to say on this!

    What the author is trying to say and how she is saying it are very disconnected.

    There have been several points in my life where I have has to make choices between a higher power job and doing something that pays decent, but makes me much happier. I have always gone the happy route. This is why I may or may not actually finish my PhD.

    This constant comparison business does nothing to help with mommy guilt or helping people (both men and women) find happiness and enjoy life.
    Heather recently posted..Things Lately

  5. says

    Love this. I read this last week, too, and it did make me feel like a lesser human for not pursuing my career harder, especially since I’m single and childless and have “the opportunity.” But that’s not what I want. I would give anything to have what you have–happy, healthy kids, a husband that loves and supports you and is a true partner, a job you like that pays you well, friends and hobbies. You DO have it all! And I’m glad you can recognize that and feel good about it. You should!

  6. says

    You absolutely DO have it all! I think in the end, everyone needs to choose the path which brings them the most happiness. And as long as you’re happy, you have it all. I get a lot of crap for being almost 30 without a ring on my finger and no children. Because I didn’t marry at 22 and want to procreate, I’m “omg-doing-it-wrong”? I don’t think so. I’m 100% content with where I’m at in life at this point and refuse to fall victim to the comparison trap.

    I love a good rant post :)
    Melissa recently posted..Tuesday Things

  7. Mom says

    Great rant!! Hope you enjoyed a glass of wine while you wrote this!! Yes, you have it all.. you work, play and share like no one I know! Its good to read articles like you did, because it keeps you centered to your true being of self!! Enjoy your day<3

  8. hush says

    ” why are we defining ourselves with what we DON’T have?”

    I can’t help but point out you have chosen to list the following here under “About Michelle” : “I’m a working mom of three who somehow became a runner. I also like to eat, drink wine, and laugh. Sometimes I’m dramatic and I definitely don’t EVER get enough sleep.”

    So something you “definitely DON’T EVER” have enough of (sleep) is very much a part of your own healthy and awesome blogger self-definition. But yet you still insist that women defining ourselves (ungratefully?) in terms of whatever we don’t have instead of in (more grateful?) terms of what we do have is necessarily a bad thing? I respectfully disagree. Context matters, doesn’t it? There is no One True Way to self-define.

    You sound like a Tigger who gets annoyed at Eeyores. I’m a Tigger, too, so I totally agree with you:


    Anyway, great blog – I love to read about happy working moms who also prioritize their own fitness.

    • says

      My dad has a beach house… so I feel like I’m close to that one by association :) I’d really like a home in Sonoma. That’s happening. Someday.

      Agreed on being happy with life though. Even when I bitch and complain… life is good.

  9. says

    This post was just what I needed today! Yesterday, I found myself feeling envious of a friend who I thought seemed to “have it all” at the moment. I really had to give myself a mental b*tch slap for that one, because I am SO LUCKY and LOVE my life. I woke up today with a promise to shift my attitude and this really helped!

  10. says

    I love your take on this! And I agree with what you (and others) said – there definitely seems to be some disconnect between what the author is trying to say and how it comes across (especially with the article title and the labels). I don’t know why women who don’t want to climb the corporate ladder are looked at as under-achievers or lacking ambition…why can’t we just accept that ambitions are different for everybody? I have my master’s degree and work in a field I love. I don’t have a particularly high-powered job or make tons of money…but I find it fulfilling. And I hope to be able to balance that AND being a mom, runner, wife, etc. Doesn’t mean I’m always going to find every aspect of my life 100% satisfying, but being able to HAVE a life where I chose my priorities and how I spend my time is close enough to “having it all” for me!
    Lauren recently posted..Cheese Baby: 29 & 30 Weeks

    • says

      Yes – 100% agreed – ambitions are different for everyone. I know a few women who have gone to school, gotten their law degrees, and then decided to stay at home — and let me tell you – they are are STILL ambitious!

      Finding that balance is hard (especially right now) BUT every now and then my world comes together and I feel like I’m doing it right. It’s fleeting – but that feeling makes me want to find it again. Kinda like running :)

  11. says

    I absolutely love this rant! I am a very successful woman who happens to not want children of my own. I love my life and find it very fulfilling. About once a week I am asked by my coworkers and peers at work “so, when are you going to start a family?”. I simply say something to the effect of “oh, I’m not planning on having kids”. You should see the look of pity on their faces. Suddenly, I go from a highly successful working woman to somebody to be pitied. They act like I am barren or something!! I think women are so often criticized for not measuring up to some imaginary standard. It is very sad. Thank you so much for writing this post.


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