I find it strange when people call me a wonder woman or say I have it all – I guess that looking in on our lives from the outside you could be mistaken from thinking I’m managing to juggle family and work and to have it all
Being brutally honest that’s an illusion
I don’t have it all
If I’m at work, throwing in massive hours on a project and coaxing a difficult case to a conclusion then I will have not seen my children awake for days, I will have missed playing with them at the weekend whilst I’ve been on conference calls or reading documents and I will have had to say goodnight over the phone more times than I want
If I’m there watching sports day or at the end of term picnic I will have walked away from something in the office that I probably should have been at, meetings that I should have attended, rushed through work so that I could walk out of the door
If I’m at home sewing name tapes onto school uniform then I’m not at the networking drinks I should have been or I’m not getting the sleep I need
If I’m out at a fancy work dinner then I’ve had to let someone else put the children to bed and will be working out how to fit in pumping and carrying a cold bag with milk in around with me
If I’m managing to just about stay on top of work and spending time with the children then I won’t have had time to see my friends for months
I have realised that I cannot have it all – if I am succeeding at one part of my life by definition there is another part of my life that I am failing at or just about scraping by at
There is no way to have it all, it is an illusion and one that we just cannot hope to live up to
Abandon the mirage of having it all and instead start to think about where you can scrape by on being good enough, where you need to be great this week and where a bit of failure won’t be a disaster and you will start to feel better
The juggling, the time pressure, the having to do half a dozen things at once doesn’t go away but the pressure to never drop any of those balls reduces because you realise that dropping some of those balls is just the way it is
At the same time can we be more accepting that this is what we parents are going through – we are drawn in so many directions that we will fail at things.
Can we be better friends and realise that people not being in touch doesn’t mean they don’t love us, just that they do not have the time – take a minute to say that we’re thinking of them rather than worrying about the multitude of times that they’ve had to come lower down the priority than everything else?
Can we say to each other that we understand the constant, changing priority list and that sometimes we cannot get it right but that we know that we’re all trying to do our best
Can we be kinder to ourselves and give ourselves permission to fail, knowing that tomorrow we’ll brush ourselves off and try again – we might not get it right then but we’ll give it another go and that having it all really means having some of it some of the time and accepting that not having some bits of the picture isn’t a failing but the only way to manage