Women Can Have It All! Here's Why

The Atlantic's definition of "having it all" is way off -- here, one working mom explains why

Every time I hear the “women can have it all” rhetoric, I always sort of snort to myself and think: Seriously? I can’t even have my coffee while it’s hot. I suppose I could, but I’m too busy chasing down a lost sock or stopping a toddler from eating a crayon. Can we really have it all at work and at home? Well we already know what Anne-Marie Slaughter concluded in her Atlantic cover story “Why There's No Such Thing as 'Having It All' --and There Never Will Be."

After reading the piece, I found myself both nodding in agreement and raging from the condescension that a woman must be a high powered executive in order to weigh in on the matter. Not one “average” working mom was quoted!

I believe that we can have it all. As women and mothers, it’s all within our grasp -- that is, if we go ahead and toss out the early feminist definition of what having it all really means. Wasn’t the feminist movement about freeing women to be whatever they wanted to be? A woman’s place is exactly where she wants and how much she chooses to be there. That includes the State Department, the kitchen and everywhere in between.

Maybe we shouldn’t be working so much for the brass ring, but rather working harder at things we care about. Slaughter lists first lady Michelle Obama as a great example of this. Before she was first lady, Mrs. Obama made choices in her career that worked for her family, maintaining a strong presence at work and at home. I try to go about the juggle in the same way. If I’m going to be away from my boys, it needs to be for something I love, not just “a job.” And the money better be worth it.

I’m lucky to maintain a career that allows me to stay with my two young children and work from home. In the ridiculous stay-at-home mom vs. working mom debate, we work-at-home moms are woefully underrepresented. However, as e-mail, Face Time, Skype and other telecommuting technologies continue to develop, the option of working from home won’t be such a rarity. For me right now, this truly is the perfect balance.

But let’s not forget about the countless women who have no choice but to work two jobs just to make ends meet. The ones who miss their kids’ baseball games, not because they’re meeting with heads of state, but because they’re on their third shift to make sure their kids play at all. Let’s hope that on top of everything they have on their plates, a feeling of failing at “having it all” has never entered their minds.

So, maybe I will never have the “you can have it all’ that Gloria Steinem and the other warriors for women once defined. It is only because of their hard work that I am free enough to toss out that definition and say that doesn’t work for me today. But here is what does: The times, they were a changing then and the times, they are a changing now. And I do, in fact, have it all.

WATCH: Can Women Have It All? Why Are We Still Asking That Question?


Stephanie Dulli is an iVoice on iVillage based in the Washington, DC metro area. She has two young sons and authors the blog
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