A friend of mine recently sent me a link to an article in which Drew Barrymore talks about why women can’t have it all.
In the online article for People Magazine, Barrymore states, “It sucks when you’ve worked really hard for certain things and you have to give them up because you know that you’re going to miss out on your child’s upbringing, or you realize that your relationship has suffered.”
She goes on to say, “I was raised in that generation of women can have it all, and I don’t think you can. I think some things fall off the table. The good news is, what does stay on the table becomes much more in focus and much more important.”
Part of me responds to this by saying, “Mmmm hmmmm!! Sing it girl!”
Another part of me is not so sure. It begs the question, what does “having it all” mean exactly? I used to think I would have it all when I owned a house, had a car with heated seats, and could afford to take my family to Disney or Hawaii once a year on the money I earned in my private practice. Ahhh, then I could say I had arrived.
Well, none of those things have happened in my life, nor are they imminent. So now what?
We all have heard about age being just a state of mind. I wonder if the same could be said for the theory of having it all– that what we have or do not have is really just a state of mind.
My husband and I married and rushed into having children because we were in our 30’s and our clocks were ticking. We live in a modest apartment and drive ten year old cars. We have an amazing support system however, and lack for nothing essential.
Had we put off having children, we may have been able to save up and buy a house. But had we put off baby-making, we would not have these two precious beings who were came to be at exactly the right time.
When our son was born, we pulled out all the stops to send him to the best daycare in the state. Sacrifices were made to do this, but no price could be put on peace of mind regarding our child’s safety, and he was adored and intellectually stimulated.
We both also decided to cut back on our hours at work so we could each spend one day at home with our children. We did this at huge financial sacrifice, but we agreed that spending time with our children was more important than anything we could buy. We figured we would have time to work, buy, and pay for crap, but our little ones would only be little for such a short time.
We could never buy that time back in the end.
During Jack’s time at the daycare, we were invited to a number of birthday parties for his peers. Some of these shindigs were held at homes that were seven times larger than our apartment. Homes with four car garages. Homes with huge pools with waterfalls. Professionally decorated homes. Homes with gyms and televisions the size of an entire wall.
While we had fun at these festivities, I always left thinking, Well, that made me feel like a “Have Not.” I would return to my small domicile feeling like I did something wrong in life, like I should be living larger.
Are material possessions important when my children are healthy and happy?
It is really hard to balance everything. I can’t lie. There are so many times when I wish I could just stay home with the kids, and there are other times when I wish I had more energy and motivation to focus on my career.
It would be nice not to worry about my financial state, to live in a home big enough so that my husband and I don’t bump into each other and grumble about it 100 times a day. It would be nice not to work so hard knowing that my paycheck is spent already every week before I even get it home. It would be nice to take my family to a tropical island.
I fantasize about buying new curtains and a dining room set, but if I scale down my expectations and focus on what is really important, it becomes evident I need nothing more.
My favorite line in song comes from Regina Spektor: “Love what you have, and you’ll have more love.”
Buddha teaches that attachment causes suffering. Nuff said.
This center of balance does not always come to me, but when it does, I feel an amazing and complete satisfaction. When I can set aside my greed and envy, it feels lovely to love what I have.
Lately I tell myself, I have it all, at many moments throughout the day.
When Emily and I take a walk and see a patch of beautiful flowers.
When Jack gives me extra hugs and asks me to lie with him at bedtime.
When we are all at the table eating dinner, sharing about our day.
When I am at work and bear witness to a client making meaningful connections.
When my husband and I have opportunities to teach the kids about kindness and love.
When I hear a song I like in the car and catch my daughter bopping along and clapping to it out of the corner of my eye.
When I over hear my son helping his sister set up and play with a toy in the other room.
When I see the green sprouts of sunflowers Jack planted stretching up to the sky.
I have it all. I have it all. I have it all.