Can a Woman Have It All?

Lately, there have been a flurry of op-eds and articles on this penetrating question: can a woman have it all? Yes, I read the piece in The Atlantic and I watched a few network TV ladies trying to assuage their guilt and figure it out. And I, as a working woman and mother, have this to say: y’all are asking the wrong damn question!!!!!

The real question is this:


The expectation that woman can and should have it all is a fiction planted in our brains by skeptics trying to control our hearts. The thinking goes like this: give a woman an impossible task (keep her man happy, her kids clean, well fed and behaved, and then succeed at work and education while also hosting an amazing dinner party). Ladies, we have proven beyond a doubt that we CAN. We have proven it so well that some men, frankly, have slacked off quite a bit and left us to carry the weight around here.

So let’s break this down into manageable bites: I’m going to go out on a limb and say there are two basic things a woman wants and everything else is a variation on that theme:

  1. We want to be loved and respected. This is not just for women, but for all humanity—from babies to old folks—too. We all want to be loved and respected. Treated with care and sensitivity. Experience passion and desire between lovers, whatever their gender. We want to know our hearts are safe and protected in the hands of those we love. We may want this from our children or live this love through our children, but we know in our deepest hearts that our job is to create children who are loved and respected enough so they can find lovers of their own who will safely cradle and nurture their hearts. Where we all screw up is when we look for that love in the wrong places or with the wrong intentions…but then we need to love and respect ourselves enough to learn from our mistakes and move on. Here’s the thing: There are still many women and cultures around the world that do not allow women this basic human right. Girls—YOUNG GIRLS—are still sold and married off against the will of their own hearts. We are not equal as women until every girl and woman in the world has the right to safely love and be loved, with respect.
  2. We want FREEDOM. After love, all we really want is the freedom to decide what WE want. Not what our parents want. Not what our government or our religious leaders want. We want the freedom to learn and be educated in what we choose. We want the freedom to chose a path that fulfills our most creative desires—whether that’s to become a scientist or an artist, a doctor or a freaking catholic priest. We want the freedom to decide when and if we want to have children and with whom, and not feel trapped by anyone ever, anywhere. We want the freedom to decide if we will work or not work, cook or not cook, marry or not marry…. But all of us want the freedom to dream, and the chance to make those dreams come true.

That’s the “all” women want. It’s pretty simple. Having someone else’s “all” is too complicated, boring, and…someone else’s fantasy expectation. And that, dear skeptics, intellectuals, feminists, and conservatives, is what the fairy-tale dream is about: the freedom to dream and love and live your very own truth and no one else’s.

The sad truth is many women, even in America, don’t feel they have the freedom to dream. Even more women around the world truly don’t have the right to dream. So those of us who do have it better grab it while we can, live life to its fullest, love with all our hearts and souls. And enjoy every minute!



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6 Responses to Can a Woman Have It All?

  1. Krista July 12, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    WOW! Way to pinpoint the truth of “having it all”. Being a single mom just ending an unhealthy relationship before it turned into a lifetime of complacency just to be “what I should be” and having guilt over my son not having his Daddy on a daily basis and what that will mean later in life – this really hit home. I don’t think I ever thought of this issue in this way and I want to thank you for putting it into real terms, not in societies terms, and opening up my door a little wider 🙂

  2. Dana B July 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    I love that photo, it’s beautiful and fits so well with this post–as she peacefully seems to have everything she wants in that moment.

    I’m not married, and I don’t have kids, but I have days (many at that) where I feel like I just can’t do it all. The laundry from last week hasn’t been folded, the flight I’ve been meaning to book hasn’t been booked yet, ect.

    BUT–I’ve made time to go running, stretch or write almost every day. Those are the things that keep me feeling free and sane, no matter how big my ‘to do’ list is. And really, if the laundry isn’t ever put away, who will know? 🙂

  3. Nancy C July 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    I have never seen this stated so plainly, thank you. I was raised to put my father and brothers before my self. Then when I married it was expected that my husband and male children came first. I felt like I was invisible for too many years. I am glad to say that I finally grew up, wised up, and stood up for my rights and needs. I am living alone but have a great relationship with my grown children. They don’t always agree with what I am doing but they give me my space and most importantly respect. It has been a long journey but I have finally reached a point in my life where I am happy to be me and I no longer feel invisible.

  4. Caroline July 18, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    This is one post I will be sure to share with my 24 year old daughter ….

  5. Roberta Githens July 18, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    Wow, you can say it and it hits home.

  6. diana blaine July 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    I love your article on the 2 things women want. I loved it!! It is so true. I spent my younger years always looking for Mr. Right and always found Mr. Wrong. I wish I could have read your thoughtful message long ago, Thank You !!

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