‘You can have it all,’ they suddenly said. ‘No, actually you bloody can’t,’ they decided. And so on and so forth. The – largely women’s – press has been asking CAN you have it all? Can YOU have it all? Can you have it ALL? in rotation for 30 years or more.
Well, here’s the answer: depends on who you are. It is not so much a question of politics (although the pay gap and post-maternity discrimination are an absolute abomination) as a question of personality. Having it all is enabled by two things: hunger and energy. You have to really want the full-on party life, the meaningful friendships, the kids, the marriage, the big job, the holidays, the great house and the reputation for great style and conversation. You have to feel as though that is the only life that fits, that anything else would leave you wanting more. You also have to be an energy snob. ‘Tiredness,’ you must think, ‘is not an illness. Tiredness does not make me sad or panicky. I’ll just have a cup of coffee.’
‘Can women have it all?’ is an inherently stupid question. Legally and societally everything should clearly be in place for certain women to take it all and devour it all and let’s – the rest of us – raise our hats to them rather than judging them. But only we know if we even want it all. And that’s the thing; it’s okay to be happy with just some of it. Whatever gets you through the night.