As women the catch phrase "having it all" is subliminally programmed into our brains at an early age and often the topic of sensitive debates. Can women really have it all and if so, what would it realistically look like? As a 40 year old mother of 3, I've spent much of my life contemplating how to achieve this seemingly mythical goal and have concluded that it is possible. The first step is figuring out what "having it all" actually means to me. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Shannon and I have been happily married for over 14 years We have 3 beautiful children ages 3, 9, and 13. They are involved in multiple sports and church activities, maintain honor roll in advanced classes, and have well mannered personalities. I work as an area manager for a Fortune 500 company supervising approximately 200 employees. I am ultimately responsible for ensuring operational standards, profitability, employee satisfaction and training, and much more. (Did I mention that it's a well known company that is often spotlighted in the national media and I am also responsible for ensuring my never receive negative media attention?) In my free time, I love to travel, train and compete in multiple styles of racing, spend time with friends and family (and now, apparently! I also blog). Wow, just typing this paragraph made me feel pretty good about myself and and ability to "have it all". If only it were that simple. Although it is technically correct information, it is really only the social media version of myself. I spend 23 out of 24 hours trying to hold on to the last brain cell and fiber of sanity that I have left. I sleep the other hour. I once spoke on a panel in front of hundreds of business owners, corporate VPs and various other high ranking staff. That was before. Last week, I stuttered and tried not to cry when asked a basic operational question by my boss because my hormones had created a huge gap in my brain synapses affecting my ability to articulate or communicate basic information. This is commonly referred to as mommy brain. I could present a thousand pieces of personal evidence supporting the mommy brain theory (and I'm sure my husband and children could present a million). Just recently, the school called me to tell me that my daughter was sick with a fever. I didn't answer it. I was in a meeting with my new boss and team. They are all men. They don't get those phone calls and probably get annoyed when I do. I cried when I checked the message an hour later when I checked my messages and heard the school nurse. She was fine and my aunt had already picked her up and was spoiling her. That didn't matter!! I was her mommy and it was my job to take care of her when she was sick. I felt guilty... guilty that I hadn't heard her call, guilty that I wasn't there when she needed me, guilty for my parental shortcomings. I would like to note that my husband also received the same phone call, but wasn't slightly affected by the fact that he couldn't leave work either, but that is another topic for another blog. Living a healthy lifestyle and preparing fresh organic meals for my family is important to me. I believe that it is critical to overall health and body function. However, I recently shoved 2 microwaved corndogs in my purse, buckled my youngest in her car seat, and headed off to my son's soccer game (we were 5 minutes late). It had just been one of those days. You know, the kind where you surrender to Murphy's law by lunch and decide that today's goal will just be to keep everyone alive. On this day, "having it all" would require that I drastically reduce my momlife standards. Having once been 50 lbs heavier, I know the importance of preparing healthy snacks and meals in advance for me to eat throughout the hectic week. I love fresh vegetables and grilled meats and running for miles jamming to my playlist. I gain strength and motivation when I attend bootcamp, not to mention support from my group. However, I have eaten cake for breakfast, popcorn for lunch, and stayed in my pajamas all day watching Netflix. I play this off by marketing it to my family as Opposite Day, where we eat desserts for our meals and wear pajamas instead of clothes. Twenty years ago "having it all" looked like this... I was an articulate respected leader at work changing the lives of other employees, inspiring them to become the next CEO. I would marry the perfect husband and father and the few disagreements we had, would be easily fixed with a kiss. Basically it resembled the sitcoms of my youth when all issues were resolved in 30 minutes. I would be a glowing pregnant woman that only revealed her pregnant state in her basketball shaped tummy. My body would return to its pre-baby form with a few aerobics classes and a couple of salads. My children wore adorable smocked dresses and monogrammed outfits with matching bows just to go to the grocery store, which I would make an educational fieldtrip-like experience. My older children resembled were ALWAYS polite, never uttered a disrespectful word, made straight As, were kind caring individuals always. All of this occurred seamlessly because I had read the books and babysat for years. This might be a little exaggerated for affect, but in hindsight accurately depicts how delusional my "having it all" beliefs were. My reality looks more like a Saturday Night Live skit. I've flown out the door to work forgetting to finish my make-up because I was interrupted by some child crisis that needed me. Last week my meeting presentation notes had blue crayon scribbled all over them and I could barely read them because my 3 year old thinks any paper is available for artwork. My body has NEVER returned to its pre-pregnancy state after the birth of any of my children. It has retained a physical scrapbook of each pregnancy through stretch marks, excess flab, and C-section scars. Even my feet got bigger with each birth. Taking all 3 children to the grocery store is NOT an educational fieldtrip, but more like a scientific study of what triggers a well intentioned mother to scream at the top of her lungs and vow to never take her children in public again. My children dress themselves and definitely do not reflect my fashion standards, but I have to pick my battles. If it doesn't inflict bodily harm or affect their overall character development, I probably don't have enough energy to battle it. My well mannered children have all out fits because someone is literally looking out their window, instead of their own. They do make good grades, but not without the occasionally breakdown and plea for homeschooling because they have procrastinated homework or a project. Poor planning on their part can not constitute an emergency on mine. After all, I'm trying to hang on to that one brain cell. They do like sports, but we have shown up to a first practice in the wrong shoes because I didn't prepare and pulled last year's cleats out, only to realize that their feet grew 2 inches the month before and we look like Cinderella's stepsisters trying to shove their foot into the glass slipper. As a health conscious working woman, wife, mother, and friend, I still believe that I can "have it all". I've just adjusted what it might realistically look like on a daily basis. My vision is a daily evolving process.
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