Do Women Really Want To ‘Have It All’?

Can Women Really Be Bothered To 'Have It All?'
Housework Hell by Alysa Pakkidis

This week I have decided to question the premise of women ‘having it all.’

And I’ve decided that ‘having it all’ isn’t ‘all that’.

Because the Perfect Mother medal in my cupboard and the ‘thank you’ email from that bitch of a client, hasn’t brought me the fulfilment I thought it would.

‘Having it all’ has its limitations.

It’s not like I’ve even lost any weight from the stress of it, which begs the question of what exactly I am supposed to be gaining, apart from a highly fraught existence.

There’s certainly no work/life balance to speak of.

The old man dared criticise my aptitude for house cleaning this week – a bit rich considering my pleas for a cleaner some time ago (here).  I knew something was simmering, because he develops this very loud tut when he’s cross. He tutted first when he had to empty the recycling bin, and then again when he discovered that I hadn’t ironed him any clean shirts for work.

Obviously I ignored the insinuated criticism.

After a few wines he grew some balls and came out with it. He said the house looked like the ‘back streets of Calcutta’.

Which I felt was a bit harsh.

Admittedly, the kitchen did look like some earthquake had hit the North Shore during lunch, but in my defence, it is the school holidays at the moment and our precious teenage babies can’t be expected to clean as well as grow, can they? I didn’t think the milk had been left out THAT long – I carried out the sniff test and it passed for hot drinks.

He was obviously just having a bad day. Apparently he was down a few seconds on his running time home from work and you know how maddening that can be?

Frankly, I couldn’t give a flying fuck about whether the house is clean or not, but it still stings to be criticised.

But made me realise that I’ve got too many balls in the air at the moment.

Trying to ‘have it all’ is exhausting sometimes.

We women are always trying to be the perfect mother, friend, colleague and partner. Sometimes it’s fun to rebel, kick off your shoes, become a bit more Bohemian and let the mess reproduce, the loo roll run out or create meals out of canned food.

Not that he didn’t have a point about the decaying sweet corn under the fridge.

But inevitably something has to give when we find our backs against the wall and the stress levels begin to escalate. My rule of thumb for coping with stress is to prioritise, and those activities that I derive the least pleasure from (like exercise and housework), have to be put to one side.

It’s quite amazing the squalor one can become accustomed to when push comes to shove.

I used to be proud of how organised my chaos appeared, but these days even my chaos is struggling to breathe. And the reality of ‘mum can’t do everything’ has hit the family hard. Because the bed linen doesn’t change itself and the clean washing doesn’t actually shimmy its way from the laundry to their drawers.

Calcutta might actually be an accurate analogy.

I admit that I’ve been putting myself first for a change.

After fifteen years of child-rearing, when at times I felt as though I had lost my own identity and become just someone’s Mum, I want some ‘me’ time now.

But now that I’ve put myself first, I feel guilty that I’m letting everyone down. Isn’t it strange how we women always feel like we’re failing?

Is ‘having it all’ actually worth it?

So there’s currently an embargo on cleaning in our house.

Anyone who needs a shirt ironed or food cooked can either hire a cleaner or do it their bloody selves.

9 thoughts on “Do Women Really Want To ‘Have It All’?

  1. One word – outsource! Heaps of women feel there is some kind of shame with getting cleaners or putting the shirts in the dry cleaners, like they’ve failed because they’re at home and should be doing it (even if they’re actually working from home whilst running the household and looking after the kids). Another reason for not outsourcing some household stuff also is money – but if you think about what your hourly rate is for work you might be doing from home, deduct that every time you do something. I used to iron my husband’s shirts and then finally put the case forward that when I did this once a week (I used to do about 6 in one go) I was robbing us of $100 when the dry cleaners only cost $15. So we were down $75 every time I ironed.
    Outsource where you can! It will change your life…


  2. Fuck “having it all”, and why are women expected to be on top of every goddamn thing inside AND outside the home? I always cop flak for my bad housekeeping, but there is a big difference between dirty and messy, and apart from some dust, it ain’t fkn dirty. But I like to think I kick ass at parenting, cooking, and organisation. Anyway, my point is… wait, what was my point? Oh yeah, we need to stop beating ourselves up. We feel guilty for everything, no one else has guilt like mothers. I say bullshit to that. Will go and shut up now 😉


    1. Don’t shut up because it’s so great that so many of us feel the same. No matter what I do I feel guilty. I get a job that’s predominantly working from home and I still feel guilty if i can’t tend to their needs immediately. If my husband was working from home, they would ignore him and he wouldn’t feel guilty.


  3. I’ve got bad news for you! When your husband does finally leave you…when the kids have left home/gone to uni/got married/moved cities/moved countries/had their own children….the guilt is still there! Seems impossible, doesn’t it, but it’s true! I still carry enough guilt to sink a battleship! My elder child despises me and says so at every opportunity. I should have been a better mother to him….guilt, guilt! My younger child adores me but lives 2,000km away. I miss him and even though he’s married to a lovely woman, who strangely enough, loves me too, I should be closer so I can wash and iron their clothes and take over Tupperware tubs full of cooked food for them for when they come home from work exhausted each evening….guilt, guilt! For my elder son I babysit my two gorgeous grandchildren for 2 -3 days a week for 12 or more hours, getting up at 4.30am to do so. Sometimes I do it for a week or more at a stretch. I wash and iron, clean their house, do shopping, run errands, give him money to help with the bills, buy the childrens’ and his wife’s clothes….I’m obviously trying to win his love and approval which is never going to happen, he still hates me anyway…..guilt, guilt! Before I retired I was a director in one of the largest group of companies in Australia, my elder son hates me now because he can’t be proud of me anymore. I’m just a nobody…..guilt, guilt. I just know on my deathbed I’ll be thinking I should have done more for my husband and children and then everything would have been alright…..guilt, guilt!


    1. Oh, no, you are way too hard on yourself. Maybe talk to them rather than trying to appease them. It might be something really simple that you can sort out without having to be their maid. We can only do our best – we’re only human.


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