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.”
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?