There is No Such Thing As Having It All


A woman holding a baby.I’m just surviving. I thought by this point in my life, I’d have myself together. Instead, I’m forgetting to grab my kid’s water bottle for school and running down the street to catch the bus because I got distracted by work again. Deadlines for sports registration come and go, and I say “next season.” A calendar reminder alerts me my kid has a birthday party to go to today. It starts in 15 minutes, and he isn’t dressed yet.

I envisioned myself as a different kind of mother: prepared, organized, and proactive. Instead, I find no amount of organization tools and phone reminders will help me make time in the short 24 hours the day provides to get it all done. So I pick: what doesn’t get done today? What is essential?

I work from home, and I work for myself (with no employees), which means that no boss or organization is holding me together. I’m the primary caregiver, the default parent, and the homemaker (despite running my own business). I keep everyone on track, but I don’t know how that happens. Every day, I know I’m missing something. It’ll usually hit me as I’m trying to go to bed or driving to my laboratory, where I’m desperately trying to finish the Ph.D. I started far too long ago.

I’ll panic, but sure enough, I still won’t get myself together enough not to miss something the next time. Usually, those things have to do with me and my own well-being because those are always the things that go to the back of the to-do list. My kids can’t care for themselves and deserve a devoted parent, and I work hard to make sure my clients always get my best, too. After them, the house, and my family responsibilities, there is rarely any cognitive space or energy for me.

That isn’t to say my husband is a slacker. He does plenty around the house. He is also a business owner and hustles as much as I do. But for whatever reason, no effort is enough for him to figure out how to handle the mental load around the house. If I don’t do it, no one will. Sure, I delegate to him. And to his credit, he has tried. Our home is about as egalitarian as any I’ve encountered. But it still isn’t equal.

Despite everything, I try desperately to be a great mom. I signed up to be a class parent. My husband and I throw parties for our kids and their friends. We host holidays. We go for family hikes. We go to museums, take vacations, read tons of books, and do crafts and activities as much as we can.

But I can’t help but feel like it isn’t enough. I’m still falling short.

Something has to give, but I don’t know that it is possible to drop anything. I love working. I love my research. I love being a mom. I don’t want to choose.

I acknowledge just because I feel like I’m drowning doesn’t mean I am. Most of it gets done, somehow. But I wish it was easier to breathe during times like this. There is no such thing as having it all.

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Erin is the mother of one sweet, rambunctious toddler and wife to a talented chef. Professionally, she is a former special educator and preschool teacher, and is currently a cognitive neuroscience researcher and Ph.D candidate in Cognitive Science in Education with specializations in neuroscience, cognitive development, and neurodiversity/autism. She holds masters degrees in cognitive science, and neuroscience in education, from Teachers College, Columbia University, and undergraduate degrees in special education (with an additional concentration in elementary education and a minor in English) and early childhood education. As the wife of a chef, food is a huge part of her family culture, and she enjoy both cooking and baking. Some of her other hobbies include hiking, traveling, jogging, meditation, animal rescue, playing piano and guitar, crafting, reading, and of course, writing. You can follow her parenting journey and pick up tips on great kids activities here on Westchester Moms Blog, as well as her website (, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts.


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