Why 'Having It All' Doesn't Have To Mean Having Kids

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Why 'Having It All' Doesn't Have To Mean Having Kids [EXPERT]
Anne-Marie Slaughter's article in the Atlantic assumes "having it all" includes having kids.

Just as we, as a culture, will never all agree on a pro-choice or pro-life position, we shouldn't expect that all women should want or need a one-size-fits-all approach to what defines having it all. Our profession, relationship status, and number of dependents does not and should not constitute what fulfills us. Having it all is a state of mind, not a status symbol.

Single women can have it all. Once upon a time, I did. As a single 30-year-old woman, I left a dream job where I got to write about Barbie for a living to pursue my new dream of writing my first book It's A Breakup, Not A BreakdownSingle? 10 Ways To Boost Your Self-Confidence

I remember my last day of work. Several of my coworkers stopped by my cubicle to wish me well. Many of them, all married, some with children, confessed how much they envied me and my freedom to leave a job to pursue a dream. The message I got from these hushed conversations was that with marriage and children came duty and obligation. And that didn't mesh with my vision of having it all.

As time went on, my definition of having it all evolved to include a husband. On our second date, I remember telling my husband over Mexican food and margaritas that I never wanted children because the idea of being financially and emotionally responsible for another human being just didn't feel like my idea of having it all. I knew he was the one for me when he smiled, nodded his head, and said, "Exactly!"

For the first seven years of our relationship, my husband and I both proceeded to have it all. We built successful businesses, I wrote three books, we traveled the world, enjoyed a rockin' sex life, and relished our financial and personal freedom.

Until along came baby. While this part of the story deserves an article all its own (I'm working on it), here are the important facts. Six months ago, my husband and I became temporary, full-time foster parents to our then 14-month-old-niece. At 40, I'd never changed a diaper, burped a baby or sang a lullaby. And while all of that has changed now, let me be clear: Having this child come into my life and my house does not feel like having it all. In fact, I feel like I have less now than I did before.

True, my situation is slightly unusual (although the new conversations I'm having with people at parties reveals just how startlingly common my husband's and my situation is — again a story for another time). We didn't want or plan on becoming parents. But how many people out there have found themselves in a similar situation — an unplanned pregnancy, a family crisis where a child requires rescuing, etc.?

I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure there are plenty of women (and men) out there who have children who will agree with me. Having children does not feel like having it all. And while my husband and I have the good fortune of being able to give the child back in a few months when my sister-inlaw and her baby daddy resolve their legal issues, most people who feel the way we do are stuck being parents and feeling like they're not having it al l... for life.

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Lisa Steadman

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Lisa Steadman

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Credentials: Other
Specialties: Dating/Being Single Support, Life Management
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