They Lied When They Told Me I Could Have It All

All I’m saying is that it’s not fair that we keep perpetuating this myth that we can have it all. It’s not fair and it’s not true. We can’t have it all, not really. No one can.

I’m not complaining. I’m not. All I’m saying is that it’s not fair that we keep perpetuating this myth that we can have it all. It’s not fair and it’s not true. We can’t have it all, not really. No one can. We can have incredible, beautiful, amazing things. We can have big huge (satisfying, even) pieces of lots of things. If you’re way luckier than you deserve to be, like I was, you might even have a mother in law who is the physical embodiment of grace and watches your children while you carve yourself a career that still feels mostly fulfilling most of the time. But a piece of me never even left them, not once, the whole work day, which means I wasn’t fully present at work. And back at home, on call with my smart phone next to me, I wasn’t fully present either for the wiping or the feeding or the story reading.

We do that, don’t we? We consciously split ourselves in half or thirds or further, into teeny little pieces that we sprinkle over the parts of our life like fairy dust and pray that it will be enough to keep everyone, including us, satiated.

And is it? Here’s the thing: I think so. I really do. It has to be. I also think it’s okay to grieve the loss of some of those old dreams. Life with littles is hard. It’s a tightrope walk. We choose the things that we can carry and we try to accept the things that we can’t and we sweat and crawl and grip to stay on that rope and balance it all and the truth is it isn’t easy and it isn’t very glamorous either.

So as much as I would love to be, I’m not Gloria Steinem, gorgeous, breaking down barriers. I’m a bedraggled mother to four babies, half in and half out, who still sometimes takes them the doctor and wonders how I would have looked in the white lab coat.

But there’s one more thing to remember, and it’s the biggest thing. We’re not done. In what is both a heartbreaking and thrilling development, these babies will not always be babies. They will grow and change – and so will we – and life is nothing if not full of surprises. And none of us should stop dreaming, not for one second. Sorry, person who told me we only truly live for twenty years, but I have a lot more living planned to do.

Tomorrow maybe I will finally figure out what a tamale is, or save the world, depending on how much coffee I can stomach in the morning.

The dreams are different now, sure. You couldn’t pay me enough to be president, vagina or no. My dreams are more along the line of achieving enlightenment or at least that elusive arm balance pose in yoga. And that’s just today’s edition. Yesterday’s dream was to get out of bed in the morning and this weekend’s was to watch a whole movie with my husband without having to get up once.

Tomorrow maybe I will finally figure out what a tamale is, or save the world, depending on how much coffee I can stomach in the morning. And maybe what the dream is, exactly, is less important than the fact that we have them at all to fall back on in the moments when the everyday minutiae of our beautiful lives feels a little too unbalanced. Because none of us could possibly know yet where our tightropes lead, but I, for one, am so excited to find out that I can barely remember to pull up my pants.


Liz is a writer, blogger, teller of stories, believer in truth, and mama to four. She shares her stories on lizpetrone.com and all over the Internet, and recently finished a sloppy first draft of her first book. She can also be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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