A Childfree Life, Musings of sorts

How you can have it all. By saying No.

September 14, 2014

I love this quote. It is from a Forbes article where Pepsico Ceo Indra Nooyi talks about women having it all, and why she thinks we can’t.

Mum said having babies was much easier in her days. Women were not expected to work or to be very career driven.

(They didn’t have to work, because a house did not cost one million dollars). Women had lesser expectations, lower earnings and limited financial independence.

I am all up for women getting ahead, having choices and being empowered. But are we meant to do all of it?  Can we really learn to be a super mum AND a career woman, travel eternally, create something meaningful to do in our spare time, run marathons and remain dedicated partners and friends?

Is this what we want?

Having it all?

But isn’t having it all what has made us so bloody tired and stressed?

Isn’t this why more women than men suffer from anxiety?


(By the way how are you today? Tired?)

Mum said when she was raising us, as a family, their expectations were lower.

Mum did not take, nor expect romantic breaks away with the hubby while the grandparents minded the children.

There were no family holidays in Bali, no weekends in the Hunter Valley or yearly trips overseas.

Mum said she was chuffed when they went to the movies once. On Boxing Day. (For two hours.)

The idea that we can all, and should have it all – the great Australian dream of having a house in the burbs, two and a half kids, meaningful careers, time to yourselves, time to each other, be a great parent, a great wife, a great aunty, a great daughter, create something, go on holidays once a year, send your kids to private schools, just makes me feel soo damn tired. And pressured. And stressed.

A lot of soul searching has led me to believe that maybe the way for me to fulfill my life and have it all, is to not have it all.

I know this much. I don’t want to spend my life chasing my tail. Waiting to wonder when I will feel like I can get on top of it. Waiting to feel ahead.

Life is about choices, and each one comes with a sacrifice of some sort. And never without a smudge of regret or ‘what if’. This is the risk we take.

This is what I can choose.

I can stop feeling guilty about having a small apartment.

I can be thankful for my small and manageable mortgage.

I can choose to not upgrade to a house for no reason, other than ‘we want more space’ and instead keep travelling.

I can maybe choose not have kids. I can change my mind if and when I feel I can financially and emotionally able to give them the life they deserve.

Instead, I can choose to be an amazing aunty, a fairy godmother to my friends kids. I can nurture and contribute to the well-being of others through my writing and my career.

I can choose to be available for my parents when they need care.

Without the financial pressure of raising a family, I can choose for my partner and I to have the flexibility to pursue creative careers without the demands of a nine to five job. I alleviate pressure to pay school fees (and two car loans and a big house.)

I can choose to not take that promotion in exchange for a better work life balance.

As women, we are freer, we have more choices. And one does not come without sacrifice of another.

So when you say, yes, we must, we have to. Stop and think take stock. We don’t have to do it all.

Because sometimes having it all means not having everything.

What do you think about having it all? Can we really do it? 


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  • HI Ashleigh! I’m new here. Hugzilla sent me over 😉
    I am so glad you brought up the kid thing. So many of us think having it all means kids. It doesn’t. Not for everyone. Or maybe just not right now. I was married for 8 years before we both decided it was now or never. I don’t regret not doing it sooner. Our relationship grew in ways I cannot imagine had we had kids sooner. AND we freakin travelled together, which is so so so fun. AND so so so much harder to do with my baby these days. Dang.

    • Welcome Peachy Keen Mumma. It is hard, and your view is refreshing compared to most parents. I think about how I want to spend the best and healthiest years of my life… and at the moment it is not going to the park with kids! I am not sure if I will change my mind in a few years time, but is has been quite liberating for me to realise I don’t have to do everthing.

  • Jess

    MY Mum always told me we CAN have it all….just not at the same time 🙂

    • I suppose you are right. But I don’t want to be 60, having finished getting everything ‘done’ … THEN having financial security. Then get sick or something! But I suppose that could happen to us all at any time. So we just have to live each day with what fills us up NOW!

  • I love this, so very true!

    • I bet you would see a lot of burnt out women in your nannying role!

      • Yes I totally do. Too many mums trying to do it all, and experiencing all this life pressure that they perceive is important. I try to show them that at the end of the day, as long as they kids are safe, well cared for and sleeping peacefully in bed, with a healthy dinner on the table – they shouldn’t worry so much about everything else.