...can't I have it all?

 

Growing up one of my favorite shows to watch was What Not to Wear. I always felt so bad for them when they were basically ambushed by friends and family to get a makeover. How does that feel? Everyone around you thinks you need to be taking better care of yourself? Ouch. 

But, sometimes, the truth hurts. But no worries, the show always ended on a high note. With the contestant, usually a woman, finding more confidence in herself. Learning how to dress for her body, and getting a more flattering hair cut. Bitterness was replaced with gratitude. I loved witnessing the transformation that the contestant would go through.

I love The Biggest Loser, and Extreme Weight Loss for the same reasons. I guess I have a thing for transformation shows. I love watching people become better versions of themselves. I like watching people become happier.

All of these shows end with the same lesson. The contestant realizes that you need to take care of yourself before you can properly take care of others. That life will be much more enjoyable, and you will be a much happier person if you do this.

Back in January I wrote a post about disguised blessings. I discussed the difficulty it took for me to put my plans aside for my husband, but how I felt it was the right thing to do. It ended up all being a disguised blessing for me in my life. I am working as a professional woman, doing something I love. I continue to have all these dreams and goals. I want to achieve them all.

I am apart of a culture that puts a very strong emphasis on getting married, becoming a mother, and doing everything you can to support your husband with his academic and professional goals. I strongly believe in all of these things, having a family and all that comes with it are things I value in my life. 

I get asked a lot when Trevor and I will start a family, and what I will do after we have one. I have absolutely nothing against stay at home moms, my mother was one, and she has a very enriched valuable life. I do believe that once you become a mother you make the decision that your children will be your number one priority.  

However, I have come across too many women that have put all of their energy and efforts into these things that they have completely lost who they are and what they want. I know I don't have children yet, but am I crazy for thinking that I can have it all? 

I do feel that the most important work you will do is inside the home, but while I want to be a great friend, a great wife, a great mother, I also want to feel great about my accomplishments outside of my family. I have personal goals outside of the home, is that selfish?

I believe in that transformation message. I know that I will be a happier person if I can take care of my needs, and that in result I will be able to properly and dare I say better, be able to take care of others. I believe in that balance. It is a balance I am still working on and I don't even have children yet! I think life is all about trying to find and maintain that.

I understand that life is about give and take. But I have seen woman accomplish what I want to achieve, or at least portray they have. Is wanting it all too much to ask? Or is it even possible?



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54 comments

  1. I think its okay to want it all, but in the end you have to realize that you aren't going to get everything. -Hanna Lei

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    1. Thank you Hanna for your perspective. "I can have it all" is the lie that many Generation Xers told themselves and have grown to resent themselves for. You just cannot simply divide your attention between two goals and not damage one or both in the process. Without a family I could afford to work longer hours or take greater risks but because I have chosen to put family first I do not take those pathways. You will never "be ready" for a family, but I can certify that putting family first is the least selfish and personally rewarding path any father or mother can take.

      If my family could afford two stay at home parents I would quit my job today.

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  2. ABSOLUTELY, Alycia. You should read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. It's an awesome book I think you'll really relate to and enjoy. You can have it all if you know what you want and how to get there! You are awesome :)

    As a random side note, I don't believe feminism consists of just being an executive at a big company. I believe feminism is supporting women in whatever they think is best for them or their families, whether that is being a mom who works while raising children, a woman with no children, or a stay at home mom! Women should be given the resources and education know and figure out what they want and then the opportunity and choice to DO IT. Go us!

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    1. I will have to read that book! And I couldn't agree more with your idea of feminism!! :)

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    2. I love Lean In, too. Although, there's a whole chapter in the book about the "myth of having it all." Sandberg suggests that the idea that women should have it all is one of the reasons the "glass ceiling" is still so prevalent - the way most work places are set-up do not make it easy to be a working mom. If we acknowledged that most women want to have some time with their babies and will need flexible work schedules and access to good childcare and then legislated for those exceptions, it would be far easier to be a working mom. The truth is, you can't give 100 % to everything in your life. If you want to work, that's fabulous, but something else has to give. For example, for me, whenever I've had work as well as look after my children, keeping the house clean and dinners prepared are always the first things to go. Any Church service I have generally suffers a bit. And, I have less time to spend with my husband etc.. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, just reality. When you are part of a family you have to find the balance that works for you but also for the other members of your family, and it can be a bit messy working out the balance. But, I fully believe that if our motives are to do what's best for everyone then we'll be led down the right path, whatever that path may be.

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  3. I don't think that there is a single woman who hasn't wondered the same exact thing, and I think that you absolutely can Alycia! I don't think our God would be a loving God if he intended for women to become wives/mothers/professionals and then just "let ourselves go" so to speak. I know in my own life I felt this same desire, and although yes, my first priority is my husband and my son, I still steal away during nap time and bed time to fulfill my desire to create things for myself. I love to sew, take photos, design, bake and create music. If that ends up benefiting my family too, then that's great, but I love being able to learn new things that stretch my imagination and allow me to grow as me - not as a wife or a mother. I know that if it's something that is important to you, then you will find a way to make it happen!

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    1. :) I love how you make a point to say that our passions and interests can benefit our families too, but that even if it didn't, it benefits you, and that is important.

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  4. I feel the same way Alycia. No kidlets yet, though I look forward to that chapter of our lives when we get there. I love being a wife, and I look forward to being a mom. That said, I love exploring my own passions, talents, and professional desires too. I know in each season of my life there will be give and take. That's normal. Sometimes work will require more of my energy and sometimes my home life will. I'm trying to be present regardless of which arena is more intense at any given moment and remember that if I don't take care of myself, I won't be able to help love or care for anyone else as well as I can. It's about balance and it also has a lot to do with self love and self care. Knowing yourself and knowing when you're the best version of yourself. I think you're on the right track with your thinking :) :)

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  5. Your post really hits home for me, thank you for your honest words! Right now my career is my first priority, but when that changes, how will I balance it all? I do think it is somehow possible :)
    www.olivedoesthecity.com

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  6. I think your blog post is completely spot on. (I'm also obsessed with transformation shows). But I think that everyone's "have it all" can be so unique to them. For some people having it all just simply means a happy and healthy family. And some people's Have It All is that plus some more life experiences and individuality. For me, you have it all, if you're happy with where you are and what you're doing. (I know I'm a walking cliche!)

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    1. So true about it being "unique" to each person! I guess having it all, is just being happy in ever area of your life, and we all have different expectations of what our happy is :)

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  7. I don't think what you're asking for is selfish AT ALL! We shouldn't have to choose between two things we value and love. We should be able to have them both and to work at them. That will make everything we have and do that much better :)

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  8. I often struggle with the same feelings. I want it all, yet I feel selfish for wanting it all a lot of the time (because of that emphasis on motherhood in LDS culture). Someday I will have it . . . I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggles with my own ambitions, wondering if I really am being "selfish" or not.

    Well said, Alycia.

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  9. I'm a mom (to a three-year-old) and up until last summer, I worked about 12 hours outside the home every week. I LOVED IT. I taught Yoga/Pilates and often brought my daughter with me to be cared for by my boss or daycare at the gym. Other times she went to a friend's house to be watched while I taught a class.

    I honestly believe it is imperative to be a PERSON as well as a parent. If you lose yourself in any one task (whether it be parenthood or a bad job or school or whatever) you're going to be miserable.

    We moved last year for my husband's job and that made it difficult for me to find work again. I have been really unhappy in the last year when it comes to my identity and role. For me, having a job outside the home made me a better mom and wife. I hope that eventually I'll find that balance again because I really do miss working.

    I hope that if/when you add children to your family that you'll find that fulfillment as well, whatever it may be.

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    1. Loved this! I hope you can find that fulfillment soon too! I know you will. And it is so true about losing yourself in any task may that be work, school etc. it is never healthy.

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  10. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Alycia. I am that kind of person. My mom was a "professional stay at home mom"--she is a lawyer but she chose to raise my brothers and I instead. Sometimes I felt that she longed for those things that never were and I felt a bit of guilt. I don't want life to pass me by and realize that I did not do things that fulfilled me as an individual. I am a mom of two and want to have two more. I'm going to college to achieve the lifelong dream of becoming a university professor. I'm currently a college instructor... I want it all. And I know I can have it! My family will always come first and whenever my daughters need me, I'll quit everything for them. But in the mean time, I can have those things I want. They keep me sane, make me a better person, and why not? I get to share who I am and my values with people outside my home and church. I feel no shame in saying that I can bring something positive to society because I'm an LDS working mom. And I wish that more LDS women should see how badly their values and their dignity is needed in the workforce. :) Go for it!

    xo,
    Ana Paula
    {Visit me at Mommyhood, PhD}

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    1. THIS. "And I wish that more LDS women should see how badly their values and their dignity is needed in the workforce. :) Go for it!"

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  11. This post totally spoke to me today! I was just chatting with my husband about this exact topic. People are constantly asking us when we're going to have kids, when we're going to finally graduate college, etc. I also grew up in an environment where the pressure is on to get married and have kids and become a stay at home mom. However, my mom was a career oriented woman. I learned the benefits of having a life outside of your family and I am so grateful I had that example! My mom always put her children first, but she never lost sight of herself.

    In conclusion, you CAN have it all. It's just a balancing game, like anything else. Love the post Alycia! Thanks for sharing, just want I needed to read tonight!

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  12. I'm a mom to a 9 month old and have stayed home with him his whole life. I decided to start job hunting recently and got a fantastic job offer TODAY. Excellent pay, part time, a schedule that really works for our family, I'll be utilizing my degree...it has everything I wanted. But I've felt this nagging guilt all day and am so anxious about going back to work. This is exactly what I needed to read...a reminder that pursuing my goals will make me a better mom and wife. Thank you!

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    1. That is so exciting Breanne!!! I hope that it all comes together for you in a way that still makes you feel like you have that balance at home. It is worth the try right? I say Go for it! You will know what is working for you and your family or not :) CONGRATS!!!

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  13. You are literally reading my mind. I'm only 18 and constantly think about this, especially now that I'm pursing a competitive career in fashion/journalism. I have these amazing dreams of getting the job I've always wanted and living a fast paced life in New York city. I have days where I wake up and feel excited and confident about those dreams. Other days, I think to myself: I want a quite, ordinary life with a big family and lots of time to be with them. It scares me to think about not getting the best of both worlds. I fear that one of those dreams will be pushed aside and destroyed. I will regret not following my personal passions, yet I will also regret not being the active mom I've always wanted to be. It's frightening to think I may not have both. Hopefully you and I will find our balance, and maybe if we work hard enough and trust in God, we can actually get the best of both worlds.

    -Angelina
    The 360 Woman

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    1. Exactly what you said! I think God knows the best route for our happiness, and if we go for what we want with his guidance, I don't think we will be anything but happy with our lives.

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  14. I personally think waiting to have children is not selfish because waiting until you have more life experience will only enrich the lives of your future children. I know I would be fine as a mom now if I had to. But I also know that when I finish grad school, start my career as a teacher, and have time to travel with my sweetie, I will be wiser and more ready to put my all into being a mom (if that's what I decide I want). Tons of people do it all, but you have to decide what's right for you and what will make you feel fulfilled and happy, because that's what children deserve the most; parents who are ready and want to have them.
    I also feel grateful that I have the privilege to choose when I want to have kids.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

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  15. Parents are their children's first role-models and you can't be a good role model if you aren't happy.

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  16. I am so glad that I found this post. It speaks to me so much. My husband and I have been married a little bit over a year. I remember when we first got married, I thought I had everything figured out. I had all my ducks in a row- we would enjoy married life for a while and then I would become a stay at home mom. I didn't want to finish my degree anymore and I just wanted to stay at home with babies and serve my husband. But wow was I wrong. Not that anything is wrong with this view- it is still a good option, but that is not what God had planned for me. Long story short, I went through a very bitter period. I got pregnant really fast, and lost it. I ended up losing one of my fallopian tubes by that pregnancy and it threw me VERY off course. I was bitter because I wanted that baby so bad. We didn't get pregnant again and I was just in this awful phase of idleness... I felt like I wasn't progressing at all. I then decided to go back to school and I completely changed my plan- Or God did. I wanted to be a teacher too. And I too, thought I would just be a teacher and a mom/wife- that was my life plan. After I began blogging, I discovered SO much about me. I am now finishing up school with a degree in Public Relations and marketing. And I too wonder these things, can we have it all? I know once I graduate, I will work for quite a while because my husband is going to go through medical school and I will make our main source of income. I have thought countless times about how we will have children... will I work? Will we pull out more loans so I can stay at home? These are all hard and important decisions, but the best part is that there is not just one right answer. I know plenty of women who do stay home and that is their main identity. They are wonderful, powerful, and godly women. They are amazing mothers. I used to want to just stay home, but now I am not too sure. I know that God has given us many talents and he wants us to use those. And no talent is greater than another in his eyes. In our LDS culture, I feel like some people might judge mothers who work instead of staying home with their babies. This isn't always the case, but I have seen it happen. I have a strong feeling that I will work and be a mother at the same time. I love what I am going into. I love PR and marketing and using tools and resources to promote others. I love my family, I love God, and I can't wait to be a mom. (Though now is not the right time for us). I believe that we can be well-rounded women of God, we can be strong, and we can have it all- as long as 'all' includes things we desire. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. And I believe that through his gospel principles there isn't just one way to achieve happiness with our families.

    That was way long than I intended it to be... oops :)

    www.afternoonstyle.com

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    1. Thanks for sharing this Jessica! I can only imagine how hard it was to go through all that and figure out God's plan for you and your family. And I love how you ended that, "And I believe that through his gospel principles there isn't just one way to achieve happiness with our families." Brilliant!

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  17. This post is about oh so many things I've been thinking about for the last 8 months...
    I think a wish to have it all is not selfish at all... Because this wish consists of our goals and aims.... Because this wish is mostly just us wanting to be the best we can... the best wifes for our husbands, looking the best we can, feeling most confident, and being able to do the most we can...
    But it is really all about life balance... If you learn how to balance things without wasting time you'll be able to do a million things in one night =)))
    But the question is:"How?" =)))))
    That is what I and many other girls need to find out I guess =))))
    We see examples of girls who seem to have it all from blogs and other socila media... and we keep on asking ourselves "How do they do it?"... But then if we look closer we can see that most of them don't work.... They just stay at home and run their fashion blogs... Cuz they have time for that... They have time to do shopping, to blow-dry their hair and all that stuff... No wonder why they make other girls jealous... =))))

    I just wanna say that you're doing a great job!!! To me it's you who seems to have it all =))))) You're married and a very supportive wife, you work, you look great, you're still running this blog and you always stay positive.... You are a true inspiration to me =))) And I seriously admire you!!!

    So keep up the good work (or whatever that phrase goes=))) Sorry for my English)!!
    You're already doing great!!!

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    1. You the sweetest Natasha! But let me tell you, I am still working on that balance! Maybe that is the catch. We wont ever be "perfect," but maybe having it all is always progressing in those things we should be? Your comment definitely is helping me shape how I define having it all, success, and happiness! THANK YOU.

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  18. I 1000% agree with Hanna. I think there is nothing wrong with wanting it all but realistically something will be missing in every aspect of all if you do ultimately try to do it all.

    I am a nanny and watch everyday as many different women try to do it all. They ultimately have to many full time jobs and each of the jobs gets put on the back burner at some point and ultimately isn't fulfilled to the full potential. But if you go in understanding that this will happen then I think you can have it all.

    No matter what the women's choice ends up being about having it all or staying at home, they will have to give up a little bit of other things. Maybe your baby will start to walk while you are at work and you sacrificed that first for work but maybe if you decides to stay at home you would sacrifice the help you could give to others.

    The one thing I have learned in 3 years of nannying is that no person has it all but to be happy with life you have to believe that you do!

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    1. I guess it is the question of how you define "having it all." I don't want to spread myself too thin and ultimately just be stressed out, that isn't happiness! I also don't think you should just throw goals out the window and accept the life you have if there are things about it you aren't happy with. I am sure the answer is somewhere in the middle? I think I have come to the conclusion that it is more about being happy with the journey you are on in progression to your goals then some "happy ending."

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  19. Alycia, you've gotta read Lean In! I am halfway through and it is awesome. Although I don't agree with 100% of the author's views, reading this book has really helped me gain another perspective not often talked about in our culture. I recently got a job offer and I was able to use some of her advice in my interview which I really think helped put me over the edge! If you read it, let me know and I would really love to catch up with you and discuss it together!

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    1. Sounds like I really need to read that book! I am so happy to hear about your job offer. You have always been an example to me and when you went to law school I did a little fist pump in the air for you. You are awesome! We really do need to get together sometime, it has been too long. You guys just moved right? Let me know when you are back in Utah.

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  20. So funny. I wrote a post about this as well and will be posting it tonight. Bottom line, yes you can have it all..its a balancing act and you might not be able to have it all at once as oprah says. I believe this to be true.

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    1. I had never heard that Oprah quote, but I love it. You can have it, but maybe not all at once! :)

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  21. I taught high school for four years before I had Olivia. When I became a stay at home mom to her, it's like I found myself. I don't mean that I felt totally fulfilled as a mom, but that for the first time I had more flexibility to pursue my dreams. I started a design blog and that started an awesome path for me.

    I went back to teach one more year but working full time and being a mom did not work for me. I used to give myself 100% to teaching and then I gave myself 100% to raising Olivia and having to give less than that to two areas of my life made me a wreck. I cried almost daily. It was the most difficult 9 months of my life.

    I quit teaching and became a nanny for two teachers I worked with. And I learned a lot about what kids go through when they have a nanny or go to daycare. They were constantly seeking attention from their parents, and they all showed it in different ways. Well my surprise baby Axel meant I had to quit my nanny job sooner than I thought and now I just stay at home with my two babies.

    I shouldn't say JUST. I'm about to open my etsy shop and I've started designing a couple of things for Oilo. I love doing things that challenge my creativity and gain me respect from my peers, and I'm super grateful I've found something that I can do during nap times and eventually I might get a baby sitter a couple times a week. But you only have a short time to be with your kids as kids. They will be yours forever, but for most of your interaction they will be adults. I want to take advantage of that as much as possible, even though kids have never been "my thing".

    I guess it just depends on a person's definition of "it all" because I certainly think I've got it.

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    1. Loved reading this! After going through all these comments I think it definitely comes down to YOUR personal definition of having it all. And from the looks of it, you do have it! I also like what Ashley said, about having it all doesn't mean having it all at once. I think there are stages your go through, and it is important to experience all of the ones you feel you need in your life. Loved this.

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  22. Great post. I think this is the age old question for all women. I have read some blogger posts about being a stay at home mom and these bloggers make other women feel selfish, wrong, etc for choosing to NOT be a stay at home mom. I think everyone has their own path and everyone has a different circumstance and there is no wrong answer for this one. I do not, however, support people, even subliminally, making others feel bad for their choice.
    I think it is great that you are thinking about this and making the educated decision for yourself. That will always result in the best outcome.

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    1. Totally a woman's choice. I hate when I see others put people down for what are personal choices. You see it all the time with breast feeding or birth plans. And yes, this is the age old question for women!

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  23. I was JUST talking about this with my husband. I'm a beehive adviser and my number one emphasis for them is to know who they are, what they're hobbies are, and to develop their skills and passions. I do this because I know they will at one point devote their lives and sacrifice everything for their families and they need to have a strong sense of self before they're swallowed up in things they can't control.

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  24. And I want to clarify that I'm not talking about a choice of being a SAHM or not, just strengthening themselves first for life in general.

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  25. I think it's definitely not so black and white, that it's one or the other. I think it depends on so many factors! But also seasons. I think there will be a season when I'll stay home with our kids-to-be when they're young but once they're in school I'll surely return to work. Thanks for another great post!
    -Petra

    P.S. Check out my blog about finding joy and beauty in love, life and faith! <3 www.findingjoyandbeauty.blogspot.fi

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  26. Funny that you mention What Not to Wear and The Biggest Loser. I really love WNTW! But sometimes I feel bad for liking it a lot, because I know there are some people that hate these kinds of shows because they see them as very "fat-phobic." Like, the idea that you NEED to dress a certain way if you're top heavy or bottom heavy, you know? While I can understand that aspect, I really still love watching WNTW. And hey, they gain a lot of confidence!!

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  27. I think that culture is changing. There is such an emphasis on women getting an education and being able to take care of themselves! And it's so common for mothers to work outside of the home as well.
    And yes, you can totally have whatever you'd like! Take advantage of everything you're experiencing now (which I know you already are) because you don't know how your mind set will change when you do have a baby. Those precious bundles change your world in the best way. And you won't regret it if YOU decide you just want to be home all the time, you know? Either way... you'll totally be able to find a balance that satisfies your home life and working life!

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  28. I almost had a breakdown when my husband and I talked about kids the other day. I know there is guilt as a woman either way- guilt for not being with kids if you keep working, guilt not making money or sometimes longing for work if you stay home full time. He said something pretty profound. "You won't give up your career. You may take a few years off, 5-6 max, and then you'll jump right on it again." And I thought- yep, I can do it all! He's totally right. Some years may be more family heavy, some career, some balanced. I think You just have to realize it all may happen at different times in life, but you'll get to all of it in the way you feel is right for you!

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  29. yes! you can have it all! i think a woman can still have a career and be an INCREDIBLE mother/wife/whatever else she wants to do! if you haven't already, you should read the book Lean In by sheryl sandberg? there's some good stuff in there!

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  30. I believe you can "have it all" as well. You just have to be willing to work really hard. My mom worked two days a week and I always felt she was an amazing mom. I think I would like to work part time as well. I think it is important as a mom to stay connected to the outside world and have interests outside of your children. You just need to find something that works for you and your family!
    I also love the transformations shows :)

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  31. Girl, I am right there with you! I'm working in my dream career, and I refuse to give it up. I would like to think I can have it all. I'm not married, I have no kids, but I know I probably want both in the future. I think that the day and age we're in, we should be able to have it all. This isn't the 50s. We shouldn't have to stay at home and clean and take care of the kids if we don't want to. I too want something more than that, and we shouldn't feel bad about feeling that way.

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  32. My mom always says, "Women can have it all; just not in the same decade."

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  33. there are so many lies told in our patriarchal church and society, and the idea that men can have it all (good fathers and good careers AND in the "same decade" like the above saying goes) but women can't, is one of the most prevalent.

    when is the last time you heard a guy lament about how his career is hurting his family life? most often, guys feel their career IS their contribution to their family. the problem isn't so much can-you-have-it-all, the problem is the divide between the idea that men can and women can't. the truth is that both genders struggle to have it all, because both genders are human. family and work life will ALWAYS be a balancing act, men and women alike.

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