The Juggling Act Of The Modern Woman – Can We Really Have It All?

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Do you really think as modern women, we can really have it all? Can we have successful careers, happy families and a sense of peace and fulfillment, all at the same time? 

Sometimes, often times, I find myself thinking about this, while juggling the disease of busyness. Maybe our Grandmothers were right? Maybe we would be better off barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen? Although I would have TOTALLY failed at the pregnant part. 

Ok, not really, but you know what I mean right?

In our modern era of exorbitant living costs, the majority of families rely on two incomes to make ends meet. My family is no different. I work because I like to work. I work because we need my income. But I also love my children more than life itself and I would gladly sacrifice my like of work to spend my days seeing to all of their needs. Yes, it would probably also drive me to the brink of insanity but that’s the part of me I’m willing to sacrifice out of love for my girls. 

There I said it. I am a middle aged women in the new millennium who is secretly wishing I didn’t want to have it all. Secretly wishing I didn’t strive to have it all.

Because trying to have it all is bloody hard work you guys. I constantly feel like I’m failing someone in my life. When I’m not with my children, I long to be with them, to spend time baking and playing and doing what other SAHM’s get to do.

Recently, I went back to full time office hours. We/I needed the money and my employer made it worth my while. I’m not happy about it. It’s a few hours a week that I now don’t get to spend with my girls and that has a knock on effect. Because working reduced office hours also meant that I could get shopping and other chores done during the week and spend my entire weekend with my family. Now I can’t because grocery shopping and the like, now that needs to be done over weekends.  

So again, I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Wishing for more time with my children but having to balance that against the need for an income. 

My life is consumed by this disease of busyness. I work, a lot. For my employer and on the side taking on small content creation writing gigs to make a few extra bucks. And so often I feel like I’m just chasing my tail but I’m not really sure for what reason.

And perhaps that’s the biggest obstacle that faces us as modern women? The desire to be everything to everyone but losing a part of ourselves in the process? A desire to have it all but never quite having a sense of peace or fulfillment from it all. 

Or perhaps it’s just me. I long for a simple life. I long for a peaceful life, where I’m not chasing schedules and deadlines and trying not to forget about show & tell and school bake sales and the next writing project that needs completion.

I dunno hey, it’s like Zoe said…. I know I wouldn’t be happy without either aspect, so it’s not like I can just stop working or stop mothering.

Because I can’t/won’t give up on either roll but I just don’t know how to have a sense of peace amidst the chaos of my life. And I am constantly aware that I am an example to my daughters and what will they strive to achieve as adults having had me as their example? 

So … do you think modern women can have it all? Because sometimes I look around me and I’m just not really sure I want it all! 

March 9, 2016
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19 Comments

  • Reply Rene

    That. Exactly. This is the topic consuming most of my thoughts, and ‘how do other women do it’.

    Here is an article that really spoke to me http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-cant-have-it-all/309020/

    March 9, 2016 at 11:07 am
    • Reply Rene

      Oh and forgot to mention the author of that article wrote a book as a follow-up. Think it is called ‘Unfinished Business’

      March 9, 2016 at 11:14 am
    • Reply Sharon

      That is a great article! It really resonated with me and with my thoughts and feelings on this topic!

      March 9, 2016 at 11:16 am
  • Reply Stand In the Light

    Balance is so difficult and I agree with you. Having raised my child – he is now 23 – I can share one thing. I have run my own business for many years which made giving time to my child difficult. I think the guilt is the most overwhelming thing. But despite that my child looks up to me and has learnt from my drive and commitment – he recently left home and said “mom you inspire me to want to conquer the world”. So even though you may feel like you are not giving enough, you are actually also inspiring them!

    March 9, 2016 at 11:48 am
    • Reply Sharon

      For me though, it’s more about the fact that I don’t feel fulfilled by having to feel so torn between all these roles.

      March 9, 2016 at 11:51 am
  • Reply Debs

    This is such a great topic Sharon. Sometimes I dont even know what ‘having it all’ really means? Does it mean quitting my job and being a mom? Or does it mean moving up the career ladder, being able to fetch Ben everyday, cook supper and still do after hours work? On top of that we layer judgement from other women and our own, often unrealistic expectations of ourselves and we end up right here having this discussion of….how do we get to that place of ‘having it all’. Not wanting it all is absolutely fine. Maybe for you being at home with your kids IS having it all. Maybe working full time IS having it all. Maybe we need to redefine that picture we have in our heads. Some days, i get 15 minutes with Ben, on the floor playing cars. And in those 15 minutes im really present. I have to accept that today thats just how it worked out. I work for my Dad, in construction no less. I leave at 4pm everyday on the dot whilst most of the men leave around 5:30/6pm. Some days it does feel like im letting down the team but i know that if i let that 4pm slip later and later, the work/family balance would come undone. I dont know Sharon, i dont profess to know anything other than we each have to navigate our working lives to find a balance that works. And not be so hard on ourselves to live our lives to some ideal snapshot/picture we have.

    March 9, 2016 at 12:04 pm
  • Reply Corrinne

    Hi Sharon,
    I feel your pain and your desire to be everything. I feel your pain at being so torn between the two roles. I was exactly the same in SA and wouldn’t have dreamed about not working – it was who I was, it was what I was good at, it was good for my soul and my bank balance. And then we moved to Australia, and I decided to help my family and I settle down, find out feet and create a new life before I went back to work. Because, you know, I couldn’t possibly NOT work! But you know what? I haven’t gone back to work and it’s the best damn decision I have ever made! I LOVE not working. I love being a SAHM and I love that I am the support my husband needs to concentrate on his career and that I am always available for my boys. I am so okay with that and I love that I can volunteer in their class, attend the end of term mid week picnic, go to all the sports days, cut fruit for their Big Walk and be on a committee. Sure, there are days that I long to be called by my name or wonder why I am picking up the 59 millionth Lego piece, but the kids are small for such a short time that I have made peace with the bad stuff. I thought I would hate not working (what would I talk about?) but I have found so many other things to occupy my days and I can now concentrate on me. I am fit, healthy, happy, have absolutely no stress in my life and I wouldn’t swap it for anything. My advice is to just try it. You can always go back to work, but your girls won’t always be small or want you at their sports days.
    Good luck!

    March 9, 2016 at 2:37 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Sadly, I can’t just try it, we need the financial support my job offers.

      March 9, 2016 at 3:17 pm
  • Reply Cassey Toi

    This, has been on my mind so so much. Being a work from home parent, with studies and wanting to do the best for my kid is going to drive me close to the edge this year. I figure we all just try to do the best we can. We do the best we can to be happy and give the best we can. There will be moments where it doesn’t always work, but all we can do is know that as long as our kids still love us, we’re doing okay.

    March 9, 2016 at 2:42 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      This really isn’t about my kids though. They are happy either way. This is about me and what I want.

      March 9, 2016 at 3:35 pm
  • Reply Julie

    We don’t even have kids & I totally dream of a little shack in the mountains with a couple of cows, chickens, a veggie garden (and wifi…) 🙂

    March 10, 2016 at 8:47 am
  • Reply Belinda Mountain (@BelindaMountain)

    Thanks for this piece and thanks Rene for the link to that great article. I made the decision a few years ago that although I wanted to own my own business, I didn’t want to build an empire – because that would require huge family sacrifices I wasn’t prepared to make. I don’t think modern women can “have it all” in the traditionally accepted sense of the phrase – it’s more about defining your own version of “having it all” and then trying to construct your life around that. Of course, everyone’ s financial circumstances are different which influences all of this too. Such a tough one.

    March 10, 2016 at 1:15 pm
  • Reply laurakim

    Honestly – no I don’t think you can. Something always has to come second, often its different things and different times. You cannot honestly tell me a high powered women, who is hugely successful is able to give her child enough time – not judging just saying its physically not possible if you work until 7/8 or need to travel etc. On the reverse it is not abnormal for a SAHM to completely lose herself in crafts and her kids milestones at the expense of her friends, herself and her husband!!! You can’t spend all day with a kid and not go a little loopy!!
    I think the key is to make a decision and be happy with that.

    March 11, 2016 at 7:31 am
  • Reply Mrs FF

    Sadly I don’t think we can have it though we can try to have a semblance of balance. I sometimes wish I could be at home with my child but then we need the extra income and can’t afford that. So now I try to work at home once in a while. Not perfect but it makes me feel better. The mom guilt is huge but thankfully my child is happy either way and mommy just makes the most of the situation

    March 12, 2016 at 7:54 pm
  • Reply Debs

    Another great blog I read, another Mom who is struggling with the concept of ‘having it all’. A difference perspective than yours (and mine) but the struggle is still the same. http://www.swisslark.com/2016/03/are-you-fair-fighter.html

    March 22, 2016 at 9:34 am
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