All or Nothing

I’m working hard to create a little more elbow room in my schedule these days. Giving a little bit to myself is crucial to being able to give to everyone else. After dropping off ESS at school, I usually go straight into the office, which means I have a few hours to work quietly before anyone else comes in. It also means I’m working about 10 hours a day. That’s not really working for me, pun intended, at least on a daily basis. So I’ve started taking back my mornings and spending that extra time at a cafe, either writing or reading (hello, last book of The Hunger Games series!) or having conversations with amazingly smart and inspiring people like Meg Tripp and Georgy Cohen.

This morning I was reading and having coffee when, out of nowhere, I suddenly missed my son. Hard. I felt like I’d tried to swallow a beach ball whole and it was lodged in my chest. Tears spilled onto my face and my muscles twitched with the urge to get up and go back home, and hold my baby. Everything hurt. Suddenly the day that lay ahead of me, and the day after it, and the one after that, felt wrong. So wrong. I took some deep breaths and texted my husband and, while the feeling didn’t pass, I was able to hold it together enough to keep moving forward as planned.

Yes I read The Atlantic article, but I’ve largely ignored reading the kerfuffle over it whether in agreement or otherwise. Because for me that article articulated very accurately the struggle I manage every day. The voices that scream from the back of my head. I don’t think I could read anything more about it without taking it personally.

That said, trying to have it all isn’t particularly a mom problem or even a woman problem. Many of us are struggling with it, with striking the balance between want and need, dreams and reality, and how hard it can be to realize the difference between the two, or why they have to be different at all.

And this morning, trying to have it all felt very much instead like I had absolutely nothing.

What does having it all mean to you? How do you ease the tension between wanting more and not being able to have it?

By Jennifer Spencer

I'm a storyteller, food lover, book collector, and a Southerner at heart. I love connecting people.