There's no such thing as "having it all"

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent cover story in The Atlantic has electrified people on several continents with the tortured personal revelation that women can’t “have it all”. More specifically, she left her demanding and exciting job at the state department because she wanted to spend more time at home with her teenage sons. …

It seems a strangely decadent bourgeois view that feminism, or the culture at large, or indeed anything outside of, say, a car commercial, had ever promised anyone they could have it all. Surely most of us, even in the most privileged, educated classes, know deep down that we can only have a little bit, or we can have this or that, or we can have it all only sometimes and sort of. We also know that in those brief precious moments when we do have it all, it can be taken away from us very swiftly and precipitously. …

I am actually a huge believer in parenting in non-ideal conditions. I am a single mother, with essentially three jobs. My life is pretty chaotic but I have come to see that there is a kind of exhilaration or happiness in the chaos itself, in the impending crisis that is my average afternoon. Rather than expending lots of energy focusing on the various iterations of “it all” I could be having, I prefer to appreciate the bursts and flashes of greatness in the midst of what Winifred Holtby, a journalist in the 1920s, called “the rich unrest of family life”. I prefer to revel in the non-ideal conditions, to embrace the unconventional and to enjoy the freedom of it.