Why 'Having It All' Is Hard AF

by Oriana Branon
Originally Published: 
Mladen Zivkovic / Getty

I’m running into preschool to drop off my toddler daughter Gabi, attempting last minute to get her to brush her hair for the umpteenth time and reminding her not to discuss her predilection for public flatulence with her teachers/classmates/random strangers (“Mama, I just farted!”). I walk into the classroom, help her wash her hands, and get her settled into her seat for group breakfast.

That’s when it happens: I’m reminded that “having it all” can be really shitty sometimes. Gabi’s teacher chides me not so subtly that we are late in sending in her baby picture for a group project. I promise her (read: immediately send myself and husband a reminder text in ALL CAPS) that we will send it in today.

On the way out of the school, I bump into “that” mom who constantly walks like she’s floating on a cloud of hippie/earth mama-vibe, her two-year-old strapped to her chest and her older toddler calmly in tow, looking like she just smoked the world’s best joint and everything is right in the world. Earth Mama, who happens to be a stay-at-home mom, asks me when she’ll see me at the next Parent Meeting or if I can volunteer for an upcoming field trip.

My stomach sinks and I feel crappy for a hot second. As a full-time working mom with an executive job at a Fortune 500 company, leading public relations for an entire region, my time is severely impacted with back-to-back meetings, events, travel, and community involvement on nonprofit boards.

Here’s the deal though: I love working (yes, I said it! Cue collective gasps!). I am happier and more fulfilled because of it. I’ve known since the early days of maternity leave that being a stay-at-home mom was just not for me. Props to those who do it and do it well, but it’s not me, and I am okay with that. I am a multi-faceted individual: a mom, a wife, a friend, a public relations professional, a passionate communicator, avid wine drinker and bleary-eyed coffee gulper (in no particular order), and I wouldn’t change it for the world. When I do have free time, I choose to spend it with my family, have date nights with the hubs, or take care of myself with a little “me time.”

Does it suck on days when I am on work trips and miss out on fun moments like Gabi’s first school trip to the animal shelter? Yes. Is it hard when I get videos during the work day from our nanny of my youngest daughter Mica’s latest milestone, like a new word? Heck yeah. But I appreciate those individual moments more because I can step outside of each one to really see and value them. I want my girls to know that they can have it all: they can shoot for the stars, reach for their dreams, pursue their education and careers, grow as individuals, and have a family on top of it. Will the road be hard? Sure, but it’s ever more rewarding because of it.

On a recent Career Day at Gabi’s preschool, she wore a shirt with my company name on it and proudly presented to her classroom that she wanted to be “just like Mama” when she grows up. She told them all about what I do and how I get to hang out with celebrity basketball players as part of my job. These are the moments where the day-to-day struggle of “having it all” makes it all the more worthwhile. I know my girls see me and have the understanding that they too can accomplish whatever they put their minds to.

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