Wanting things isn’t a bad thing. We all want things. It’s part of what makes us human. For most of us, ambition drives us to achieve, or get, what we want. It doesn’t always work, but we try.
The problem, though, is the notion of having it all.
Somewhere along the way, we got this idea that we could have it all. And worse, we’re led to believe that we’re failures if we don’t have it all.
There was an interview this week, posted on several news sites online, with PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi. In it, she candidly remarked that, as a business woman, she’s had to make some difficult choices between career and parenting, concluding that women just can’t have it all.
It reminds me of that perfume commercial from the 1980’s (or possibly 1970’s), where the woman sings, in sexy voice, how she can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let you forget you’re a man. I hope that isn’t where the idea of having it all came from, but that’s what leaps to mind.
We all have to make choices and sacrifices, and we have to live with the consequences. We can try to be the perfect spouse and the perfect parent, the perfect employee or employer, the perfect son or daughter, and the perfect brother or sister. But all of those things don’t always go together, hand in hand.
The trick is to not let it weigh you down. And I think that’s the trap a lot of us fall into.
I don’t run a giant company like PepsiCo. But I do work hard. Probably too much.
My daughter is a figure skater, and I used to go with her to her lessons on Friday mornings, but work has made that increasingly difficult, if not impossible.
My son sings, and while I do attend his concerts, I couldn’t go to the CD-listening-party his school had recently, where they listened to one of his last shows.
My wife is a writer, and I haven’t been able to put aside enough time to read her latest books.
Despite all of that, I am hopeful that each of them knows that I love them. I make the effort to be the best husband and the best father that I can be. Sometimes, I do well, and sometimes I fail. But my love for them never waivers. And I do my best to make sure they know that.
Don’t get me wrong. I want to do all those things I mentioned above, that I just can’t, at least not right now. And the fact that I want to do those things, and more, but can’t, well, it’s certainly frustrating.
But it doesn’t make me feel like I’m somehow less of a husband or father. And since I got hugs from all three of them recently, I know they don’t think I’m less, either.
I’m okay with wanting it all, and yet, not having it all.
And that is the real trick.
Society has ideas on what our roles should be, and doesn’t like it when we color outside the lines. If you’re driven toward career-related success, then you can’t be a good parent. If you want to be a good parent, you can’t have much of a focus on your profession. And if you want to have a loving relationship with your spouse, and be true best friends as well, then you shouldn’t have kids.
And on and on and on.
But all those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Besides, if you really got to have it all, what would there be left to hope for? To wish for? To live for?
The song here was a hit for Queen in 1989, two years before Freddie Mercury passed away. He was already sick, but managed to hide it while they filmed the video.
It’s a song about ambition, striving to do what it takes to achieve your goals. I want it all and I want it now.
And I think Freddie would be among the first to tell you that, whatever roles society dictates, they just don’t apply here. Just do the best you can. And make sure that those you love KNOW that you love them.
That makes all the difference.