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to feel cheated that you can't actually have it all?

(305 Posts)
ChocolateOrangeInASantaHat Tue 09-Dec-14 20:18:18

Many moons ago I was educated in a fantastically positive school, where as females we were taught that we could achieve anything a male could achieve and that if we worked hard enough and planned well enough, we could 'have it all' in life.

So now, with my collection of letters after my name, respectable job, 2 usually well-behaved children, lovely husband and a multitude of lists to keep life running smoothly, I'm slowly realising that it doesn't matter how hard I work or how meticulously I plan, unless I steal a bloody tardis I still can't have it all.

Feeling particularly bitter as was up all night with poorly child, who I then left with a relative to not miss work today (=feeling like rubbish mother) and then as I'd had no sleep I was not very productive at work (=also feeling like rubbish employee). Since others at my level are generally male and tend to have stay at home wives, this kind of feeling inadequate at both home and work doesn't tend to occur for them.

Honestly feeling like I should advise daughter to either:
a) marry rich man, get good prenup and focus on children/household or
b) be career driven and marry man who is happy to stay at home and focus on children/household.

AIBU to feel cheated that I can't 'have it all'? (NB in case lost in my sleep-deprivedness this is a --partially- tongue-in-cheek AIBU)

RexMottramsTortoise Tue 09-Dec-14 20:22:53

But you say you have a respectable job, two children and a husband. Sounds pretty good to me. What is it you haven't got?

I'm a bit bemused by the phrase 'having it all'. Well, no, you can't literally do two things at the exact same time but you can have children and a husband and a job. Loads of people do.

Also, where you're really disadvantaging yourself against your male colleagues is all this 'feeling like a rubbish mother/employee' thing. I bet they don't berate themselves with that sort of crap. I bet you're nothing of the sort.

ChocolateOrangeInASantaHat Tue 09-Dec-14 20:26:49

RexMottramsTortoise what I haven't currently got is my sanity wink

And today I definitely was rubbish. I was so tired it was like trying to work drunk. Not a nice feeling. But thanks for trying to perk me up.

LokiBear Tue 09-Dec-14 20:28:05

No one can have it all. My DH is still upset that he missed so much of DD's babyhood due to being at work. I think it is the same for both sexes. Rather than try to 'have it all' we need to find a compromise that causes us the least amount of inner turmoil. My DH alternates time off work with a poorly dd with me. I'm the main earner. He shares 'sick duty'. I still feel guilty when I go to work, but it is the price I have to pay for having a career and bring a mum. Try not to beat yourself up. You are walking a fine line and doing the best you can. flowerscake

Pagwatch Tue 09-Dec-14 20:29:57

I find it hard to believe that anyone actually bought the 'having it all' crap which was usually code for 'you can hold own a job whilst doing everything regarding the home and the children'.

holeinmyheart Tue 09-Dec-14 20:31:20

Mmmmm as an older woman with also a myriad of qualifications, I found that I couldn't have it all.
I thought that if I went to work we would be rolling in money, so I did. I have never worked so hard in my life. I had lots of Children, a live in Au Pair, etc etc. I had very little time to enjoy my children or my life.
I look back on what I did and think I was mad.
I had a high powered very stressful job and rushed about like a hamster in a wheel. Everyone relied on me. Where 's my Rugby kit? , the printer has bust ? Etc etc. The weekends were spent washing, cooking and cleaning and getting ready for the next hectic week. A nightmare.
I am now in favour of SAHMs, even though it might mean less money coming in.
I was lucky in that I could have stopped any time because of my DHs earnings.
I think I have shortened my life. Mmmm don't do it is my advice.
I admire women who stay at home, if they can. I realise it is not an option for some and I have the greatest sympathy for them.

misskangaandroo2014 Tue 09-Dec-14 20:32:19

You're feeling rubbish because you're exhausted and cannot defy facts of exsistence (there's only one you). Your child was cared for, your work ticked over. Not your best day, perhaps, but if it's a low point you're doing bloody well.

RexMottramsTortoise Tue 09-Dec-14 20:33:56

Tiredness makes everything worse. You'll feel better after a good sleep. I have done that 'so tired I feel drunk' working thing. But it was because I had worked a 15 hour day the day before and been in the office till midnight.

HazleNutt Tue 09-Dec-14 20:34:37

but your male colleagues are not having it all either. They are not there, at home with their poorly children. True, they are probably not feeling guilty, but still.

whereismagic Tue 09-Dec-14 20:35:12

You can have it all - just not at the same time.

MoveAlongNothingtoSeeHere Tue 09-Dec-14 20:35:30


Of the very few women I know whose careers are at the same as those of their male counterparts, only two have children. Both feel horribly guilty and are subtly criticised by all and sundry for not doing the typical "mum" things (and one has a stay-at-home husband).

"Having it all", as in a career equal to that of men, plus kids, is possible but rare. For men, it's still much, much commoner.

2of3 Tue 09-Dec-14 20:35:38

Why didn't your lovely husband look after the sick child?
That way you would be less tired and feel less like a rubbish mum/employee.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Tue 09-Dec-14 20:36:03

Rex took the words pretty much out of my mouth! What on earth does "having it all" mean??? Working and having a family while never being tired or stressed or feeling inadequate? Well frankly that is a pipe dream for anyone with a conscience or any imagination or empathy at all.

YWBU to tell your daughter (or for that matter son) that they should live their life in any particular way other than the basic requirement to be decent to other people. They and their future OH may agree that one of your two scenarios works for them, or they might find (as DH and I do) that sharing both work and home responsibilities pretty equally works best.

Sorry - I know I sound a bit preachy, but this subject winds me up! I do absolutely get the sleep deprivation, stress and guilt but I don't think it's necessarily symptomatic of something being wrong!

ElkTheory Tue 09-Dec-14 20:38:56

Of course you can have it all, if you mean a career and a family. It sounds as though you already have that. smile

When people say, "You can't have it all," typically accompanied by a sad smile, what they often mean (to put it bluntly) is that women shouldn't have careers. And that sort of notion absolutely gives me the rage. Has anyone, anywhere, ever suggested to men that they can't have it all? No, thought not.

PiperIsTerrysChoclateOrange Tue 09-Dec-14 20:39:04

Op perhaps you need a pet lol.

ChocolateOrangeInASantaHat Tue 09-Dec-14 20:40:37

Thanks for the flowers and cake LokiBear - DH just provided real life cake which was good!

Pagwatch what can I say, I was naive and easily impressionable and part of me still believes in santa

HoleInMyHeart - ^ I had very little time to enjoy my children or my life.^ resonates so much. Although I do realise I am hugely fortunate in so many ways, including the fact I technically work part time even if that was 33 hours over 3 days last week

And misskangaandroo2014 your perspective of if it's a low point you're doing bloody well. is a great point to bear in mind

<chocolate cake clearly kicking in, soon I'll be believing I actually can have it all again>

DrDre Tue 09-Dec-14 20:42:18

I believe you can't have it all. You obviously can't have a career and be with your pre school kids all the time.

jimmycrackcornbutidontcare Tue 09-Dec-14 20:46:34

I agree. It feels as though we are all trying to pack everything into our lives at once and not making enough room for anything. I think you dealt well with your predicament today and have nothing to feel guilty about. But in general we need to make more space in our lives for things. We need to put some things on hold for a while as trying to pack in a good career, a good social life, a good relationship/marriage, good family connections with parents, siblings etc, keeping fit or maintaining hobbied and spending enough time with your children and doing the household jobs that need doing is all too much for any man or woman. Something has to give.

ChocolateOrangeInASantaHat Tue 09-Dec-14 20:48:13

2of3 he did have child in the afternoon, but he had a meeting at work he couldn't miss in the morning.

* PiperIsTerrysChoclateOrange * A pet?! Are you trying to push me over the edge?! Am not sure I could currently keep another pot plant alive let alone another being that cannot rely on photosynthesis for its energy requirements!

GothMummy Tue 09-Dec-14 20:48:53

Having it all means doing it all sad
I went to a girls school where we were taught that we could do anything.
Now Im exhausted and constantly feeling guilty, I feel that I do badly in all areas of my life as there is not enough of me to go around.
Im currently trying to convince DH to let me give up work.

sleepdodger Tue 09-Dec-14 20:49:13

I could have written your post
After a super shocking meeting I wondered why I'd gone in today, instead of doing lovely things with my dc at home
I spend my life arranging and zooming, never late for work always on last minute for home
I am very well paid but not enough to buy in help (combination of childcare student loans and pension on top of mortgage drives low disposable income)
I look at friends with rich partners who truly have no idea, their idea of a bad day is Boden being out of stock, seriously. I also have lovely friends who haven't chosen to climb the career ladder who seem generally a lot more contented with their lot and it makes me feel like the most materialistic cow
I felt like I grew up having to attain and prove a point in my career and I honestly wish I'd known how id would feel now- I'd have saved every penny and done it so very differently now!

Backinthering Tue 09-Dec-14 20:49:37

Just think. Your household has two incomes. Your colleagues with stay at home spouses only have one.

WillkommenBienvenue Tue 09-Dec-14 20:50:43

You can't have it all and it all be perfect, there is always a compromise. You can't do two jobs at once and organising other people to do part of the job is a job in itself so there are always two jobs even if you don't personally do the childcare.

The thing is it isn't forever. It's maybe 10 years out of your life that's compromised and it's not to such an extent that everything will fall apart. But in the career/parenting scheme of things, no you can't have it all and they should stop teaching young people that you can do two jobs without them both being compromised. The reality is that the compromising is what makes life interesting and if we did none of that we would all be bred to work and then die and life would be very dull.

JohnCusacksWife Tue 09-Dec-14 20:52:54

Nobody can have it all, male or female. There's only so many hours in a day and if you're at work you can't also be at home looking after your child. You have to compromise and find a balance that works for you and your family. Men may traditionally have had the "career" role but, in my opinion, that's at the expense of their family life. So they don't have it all either.

maggiethemagpie Tue 09-Dec-14 20:57:02

You will probably think I have it all. I have a good career that I love, whilst my partner is happy to be a SAHD to our two little ones of 4 and 1 years old. He rents out a property in central London so doesn't need to work. I do feel extremely fortunate. However, I miss out on my little ones, I often don't get home until very late and have frequent overnight stays. The last time I stayed away which was for three nights, my son wouldn't speak to me when I came back he was so angry at me. And I already felt guilty enough.
So, even when you have it all, you don't really have it all.

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