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Dear World: There is No ‘Having it All’

If you had to think of a message to send to the world, what would it be?

I pondered this over and over again in the last few weeks after I was invited to take part in the Dear World Live event put on by the Reynolds School of Journalism at UNR. Dear World is a fascinating project that started in 2009 with photographer Robert X. Fogarty. He travels the world capturing people’s portraits and messages to the world.

I didn’t sleep a whole lot the night before the event. I had all of these ideas of messages that I wanted to share. This exercise made me dig deep and think about all of the things that matter to me and that I want people to know. I started thinking about how important story telling is and how important I think it is for people to share their stories, speak their truth and be heard. I thought about how the last year has taken me on a journey of learning to be “perfectly imperfect.” I thought about my values and giving back. I thought about authenticity and honesty.

The morning of the photo shoot came around and I still wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to say. It was the first day after a three day weekend. I felt depleted and tired like I do at the beginning of most weeks. The kids were bears to get out of the house, I was super late to work, the lunches weren’t going to make themselves and the scale was up 3 pounds. I had cold leftover pizza for breakfast with coffee. In the car. I don’t write this as a pity party. I write this because this is my life as a working mother. It’s what the rappers call “keepin’ it real.” Oh my God. I just wrote that. You can take my cool kid card now.

It was the kind of day where I wanted to simultaneously punch Martha Stewart and Sheryl Sandberg square in the nose. Because underneath the chaos of my mornings is always this feeling of why can’t I do all of this well? Why can’t I drop the kids off without someone clinging to my leg and begging me not to go? Why can’t I make Pinterest-worthy lunches sent in monogrammed lunch boxes (ok, I actually did do that one)? Why isn’t my house clean? Why is our couch the new dresser? Why can’t I train for a half marathon and like it? Why can’t I ever be enough? Why oh why can’t I ever be on time!?!!

They say,”Comparison is the thief of joy.” They are right.

As I drove to my beautiful alma mater, it became clear to me what my message was.

“There is no having it all.” 

Dear World Having it All
Photo by Robert X. Fogarty

I felt a little bit like a negative Nancy as I stood in line to get my photo taken. In front of me was a woman who had had three heart transplants. Behind me a local entrepreneur who, does indeed, seem to do everything and everything well. They both had uplifting messages written on their bodies.

I could have written one of the many uplifting, positive ideas that had been on my mind, but it wouldn’t have been my story or authentic. This idea of “having it all”? It’s a complete and utter farce. It’s a mound of pressure put upon the chests of women in this country. We want to do and be everything to everyone. It’s not cool. It’s not healthy. It’s not helping anyone. We’re like hamsters in a wheel. It’s a ride only we can choose to get off. Maybe if there was more room on my arms (hey pizza for breakfast..I may soon get my request) I could have written that what we really need is to define what having it all looks like for us, or, maybe what having enough looks like for us. Or maybe, just maybe, that WE ARE ENOUGH.

I’m not sure Leaning In is the answer. I’m not sure leaning out is either. But this mama is done with having it all.

If you could share a message with the world, what would it be?



About Jenny Petty

Jenny Petty
Jenny Petty is the co-founder of Reno Moms Blog. She grew up in rural Nevada and married frugal-outdoorsman-handyman Travis in 2010. They have a 3 year old son, Henry, and welcomed a sweet baby girl, Claire, last year. 40+ hours a week she works in digital marketing and when she isn't sleeping she likes to dabble in crafting, updating her blog Tales of a Durtty Home, reading anything not written by Dr. Seuss or Eric Carle, and pretending to be Martha Stewart (the one on TV, not the one that went to jail). At the top of her long list of loves is traveling, adventures, mojitos, horses, spa days, her baby boy's laugh and dates nights with her husband, Mr. Durtty.


  1. April

    I absolutely love an identify with this article! So honest and real. I am glad you choose to stay true to your message, and put it out there. Hopefully it will enlighten/remind all of us that we can’t have it all. But we probably have enough. Thank you!

  2. Jenny Petty

    Thank you April! Glad you enjoyed it and could relate.

  3. Lynnette Bellin

    So touched by this story and powerful picture of you. I’ve been trying to think all night what I would want to tell the world. I’ve come up with Be Kind. Be Present. Do More. But is that three?!

  4. Richelle O'Driscoll

    You can have it all, just not all at once or all the time. Great writing.

  5. My favorite quote is this – “a journey of learning to be “perfectly imperfect.” Thank you!

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