Can Women Have it All?

July 11, 2012

By Alicia Harper, REDBOOK

A few months ago, I found myself at perfume release party at a swanky venue on Manhattan's Lower East Side. It was for a freelance assignment, and I needed to write about the perfume and the event afterwards. I left my office in Midtown East at 6:00 p.m. and zipped across town to make it to the event by the time it started at 6:30.

As I stood among other media personnel with a cocktail in my hand, I found myself talking about my day job (a Socio-emotional Counselor/ Educational Specialist for teens in foster care). One of the ladies turned to me and said, "You have the best of both worlds. You get to do what you love during the day… and in the evenings. You figured it out!"

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On the subway ride home, I got to thinking. Let's see: motherhood + one full time job + several freelance gigs + a social life = err, anyone have a calculator so that I can tally all of this up?

Make no mistake: I love what I do, both for my day job and as a writer. Both of my jobs allow me to be a blessing to others. It's my purpose. This may sound strange, but I feel as though this is exactly where I'm supposed to be at this very moment in my life. Nevertheless, it's still a constant balancing act. I write blog posts while commuting on the subway and/or compose them in my mind while taking a shower or when I go for a run. It's constant multi-tasking - all the time, all day, everyday.

I don't try to pretend like I've "figured it out," though. In fact, when others ask me how I'm able to "do it all," I typically respond by saying that I do a lot, but I don't do it all. And I'm able to do a lot because I don't sleep that much. I'm busy with motherhood, my day job, freelancing and media-related events, socializing, and sleeping (in that order).

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Balancing family and work is hard. So I understand Anne Marie-Slaughter's stance when she declares that women still can't have it all on the cover of the July/August magazine cover of The Atlantic.

Then again, my goal was never to "have it all." My goal is to have what matters most to me: a loving relationship with my son, a career in counseling and education, and a few jobs as a freelance writer. Sure, there are sacrifices (such as sleep) and trade-offs (saying "no" to one important thing just so that I can say "yes" to something else), but that's what makes me balanced. And being balanced is what makes me happy.

What about you? What's your stance on women being able to "have it all?"

Alicia Harper, M.A., Ed.M. is a single mother, freelance writer, blogger, and recent graduate of Columbia University who's now a mental health therapist. Her life is filled with all things pink, except for the one bit of blue-her rambunctious 4-year-old son. Together they make a great pair, and Alicia chronicles the trials and triumphs of being a young, single mother living in NYC at Mommy Delicious. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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