Did you read the piece that everyone's buzzing about in The Atlantic on why women can't have it all? Well, I agree: women really can’t have it all. I know this because, well, I am a woman, and lo and behold, I don’t have it all.
Still, people tell me I have it all, all the time. Perhaps that’s because one thing I do have is a huge job that I love as editorial director of Parenting and all of its brand extensions (a fancy way of saying “a bunch of other stuff”). I also happen to be a single mom to a cute and kinetic six-year-old boy, Javier, so to say my work and home life overlap is an understatement.
Both of those things keep me pretty busy, but I’m happy to report my life is even more full than that: I have an adorable 1940 bungalow that I am forever remodeling or decorating with stuff I find at Target or Home Goods. Those shopping trips usually involve Javier and a small bribe like frozen yogurt (though in my family, we call it ice cream) if he promises to let me browse in relative peace and quiet. When I’m feeling stressed or I need to take a business trip, I’m lucky enough to have two healthy parents who jump in to help. My ex-husband and I are not just on speaking terms, we’re actually friends. We talk every day, and it’s not always about Jav. Just this morning he sent me a power-point presentation he found online explaining why I need a permit for the porch I’m having built. Oh, and I’ve got an adorable boyfriend I met online a year ago who makes both Jav and I silly happy. When you take all this into account, I’m blessed with many wonderful things, but alas, I still don’t have it all.
The reason is simple: In order for me to do one thing well (make a delicious, healthy dinner for my son at the end of a long day without burning down the house, for example), I have to stop doing other things, like edit an award-winning story or come up with a $2 million-dollar marketing idea. All of these things have been known to happen, but never while cooking a delicious, healthy dinner for my son without burning the house down.
I’ve learned over the years that the only way for me to do everything well is to focus on one task at a time, so I’ve had to learn how to set my priorities. The irony is that I spend my workdays helping other modern moms balance their lives—hence I feel an enormous amount of pressure to practice what I preach. I leave work by 5:45 every day and rarely miss a classroom party, even in the midst of a work schedule that has me on the road fairly frequently. The way I see it, I’m the only family my son has in his daily life right now, so I am committed to doing whatever it takes to be not only present, but also engaged.
I’m not sure it’s ever been easy to balance work and family life, but there are times when I think to myself, “Oh, Ana, what have you done? You’ve gone to college and grad school, moved to New York City and then various cities, worked your way up through myriad magazines, scored several promotions, enjoyed many perks, including the occasional fancy business dinner, survived divorce, found a new great boyfriend, and yet, low and behold, you still don’t have it all.”
That’s OK. I think my life’s pretty darn good anyway. Follow my blog and twitter feed (@apconnery), and come along for the ride.