The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

‘Having It All’ is not a real thing.

whats your excuse mom


I’ll try to keep this brief because so much has already been said about this picture, but I have a couple of thoughts.

The first time I saw this, I wanted to like it. I wanted to feel empowered and motivated. If she’s saying, Hey! Just because I birthed these monkeys doesn’t mean I can’t still look stupidly hot! I’m kind of into it. Moms are often typecast as out-of-shape, frumpy and exhausted. It’s doesn’t suck to have a representative of our kind doing a little bit of positive PR work on the Mommy Image.

I, also, am all for women (people, really) being proud of their own hard work. You don’t get muscle definition like that simply from genetics. She’s put some hours and pain into sculpting that physique. Good for her!

But of course, the three words at the top leave a gnarly taste in my mouth. 

The implication here is that Maria Has It All. She’s also inferring you could Have It All if you only work harder. Oh you have kids? Look, I have kids and my body is banging. You should try harder, is what she wants you to know.

Let’s take just a moment to discuss this idea of Having It All. Having It All is the female-invented idea that we can somehow do-all and be-all if we just work hard enough. Having It All masquerades as a feminist concept (Womyn power! We can do anything we want to!) but is actually just another self-defeating mythological impediment to happiness and sanity we’ve foisted upon ourselves.

No one Has It All. Every single minute of every day, each woman (mother, businesswoman, athletic model, etc) sacrifices something in favor of something else. We each constantly weigh the pros and cons of every minute we spend doing one thing and every calorie we intake.

Maria chose to have children AND abs. While it’s a combination that can be tricky to maintain, it’s obviously doable. I guarantee, however, she sacrificed many things to make those two work. For instance, she clearly sacrificed the joy of eating a bacon cheeseburger or pizza dipped in ranch dressing. She also probably doesn’t get to toss back half a bottle of wine a night. But beyond that, I bet she didn’t have time to hand knit her family holiday gifts. And the sure bet is she didn’t bake cookies for her kids’ teachers on their birthdays. It’s possible she doesn’t get enough sleep and therefore doesn’t have time for sex with her husband. She probably doesn’t have much time for happy hour with girlfriends (and judging on the things she’s said surrounding all of this, she’s hard to be friends with anyway). She might be shitty at her job. She probably has no idea who Tyrion on Game of Thrones is. Maybe she does squats instead of tucking her kids in at night.

The problem with this photo is we don’t see her unsatisfied husband, disappointed clients or unfulfilled knitting dreams. We only see her attractive children and her abs.

I’m happy for Maria with her cute boys and her abs. I would like to have abs like that too. But I don’t want those abs more than I want pizza dipped in ranch dressing. I make lots of healthy food choices, but I am not interested in living in a world where I never eat In and Out as a second dinner at midnight after a show. This is my choice, not my ‘excuse’.

I have a lot. I have a gorgeous (smart, healthy) family. I’m in pretty good shape. My business is successful. I work hard to stay creatively fulfilled through my writing, dance and circus class. But I do not Have It All. I still haven’t put Halloween decorations away and there’s a empty ginger ale 12-pack box on the floor of my kitchen that’s been there for 3 days. I should read more to my younger two kids at night. I never (no, really, NEVER) write thank you notes. I haven’t paid my quarterly taxes for the last half of the year. I don’t have abs like Maria’s. I haven’t written that novel.

Maria doesn’t Have It All. I don’t Have It All. You don’t Have It All, and you never will. Just like you’ll never have a pet unicorn. But that’s ok, because you make choices about what works for you right now. You probably didn’t choose to have abs and children. Although I bet you do beautiful pottery work. Or maybe you rescue and foster homeless dogs. Probably your house is spectacularly clean and well put together. Don’t listen to Maria, these are not excuses. You’ve made a choice.



36 Responses to ‘Having It All’ is not a real thing.

  1. Damn, Elizabeth. Though the content is good too, this has got to be the best writing I’ve read in your blog. Great job.

  2. Great job Liz! I really admire your abilities and your SPUNK.

  3. Very well-written post!! LOVE this one. (This is new fave. My other fave is your marriage-is-hard post. That was a classic too.)

  4. I always enjoy your posts, but I really appreciate this one!

  5. When I start teaching Econ 101 to high school dropouts at the local junior college I will steal this from you (I’ll give you credit, who am I kidding) and use it when explaining the concept of opportunity cost. Well done.

  6. This is a kick ass post. Right on the money. And it’s just as true for dads, guys, everybody… Something I have to remember too. So easy to go nuts trying to do too much.

  7. Nicely done, Liz. As someone who has spent MANY years trying to be everything for everybodyI want to congratulate you for having such wonderful balance in your life.

  8. I couldn’t agree more! Thank you.

  9. Well said… Thank you! My son will awaken this morning to discover his elf has once again been quite mischievous and because the smile on his face and a little Christmas magic is far more precious than the time I could have spent instead doing crunches and toning my abs for a “selfie”, I know I’ve made the right choice.

  10. Thanks for putting it in words for me. It is hard not to beat ourselves up about what we haven’t done. We need to take time to see what we have accomplished and be proud of that. Life is about choices–we will always make some good ones and of course some not so good ones but it LIFE. Thanks again for your thoughts.


  12. I’m really disturbed by your feedback to the picture and the words. You make a lot of assumptions about Maria’s life. I don’t have abs like her but I also don’t knit and I don’t eat pizza dipped in ranch dressing. Maybe her husband is her trainer and helps with the kids. By the way they are a little young to have teachers to worry about gifts for. But basically your assumption is that in the 168 hours a week she has that she can’t achieve that body and still have a balanced life? Hmmm, I think your philosophy knocks us back a few decades.

    Maybe Maria doesn’t watch soap operas and spend countless hours on the internet, that would give her plenty of workout time;)!!

    Just wanted to offer a different opinion.

  13. I think each one of us has our own ideas about what “having it all” entails. Perhaps by her own definition she does “have it all” and that may not necessarily be what you would define as “having it all”. I also think it’s a huge assumption as far as how “unsatisfied” her husband may or may not be. I don’t think she ever intended to insult anyone but merely to try and inspire mom’s to take time for themselves. I think we can all agree we don’t do that enough. I know I didn’t when I was raising my kids.

    • Pues yo sí creo que podría ser interesante una secuela. Los hechos narrados en la primera parte no establecen un final definitivo, al seguir los humanos interesados en los recursos de mineral del planeta, y podríamos tener tranquilamente una secuela que cuente lo que ocurre después (pestumiblemrnee, una guerra abierta que vaya más allá de un simple ataque, propiciada por las bajas causadas al final de la primera entrega).Sólo espero que en esta ocasión sí le den un poco más de importancia al guión.

  14. I completely agree with you, Beth. Liz is making a lot of assumptions about Maria’s life, some are a bit far-fetched! My wife lives a very active and healthy life and has a great athletic body as a result. She does not sacrifice time with the family to do it either. As a matter of fact we play sports as a family to better manage our time. She bakes cookies, helps the kids with their school work, and keeps me (her husband) very satisfied. She doesn’t have to give up pizza or cheeseburgers either, she simply enjoys them in moderation. One does not have to spend 16 hours a day to have a body like Maria’s. An hour a day of high energy training is usually good enough. Please be mindful that we could all be more productive if we spent less time on our excuses (for example: excessive amounts of time watching TV or surfing the net) and more time focused on our goals.

  15. Hey guys, I totally appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and your comments are noted. If it’s your first time here, I just wanted to let you know it’s actually more a humor blog than anything else and I tend to use hyperbole and ridiculous metaphors to make a point (or a joke). This was a more serious post than I usually write, but I was still employing the signature exaggeration of the blog. I absolutely have no intimate knowledge of Maria’s sex life, her tragic and unfulfilled desire to knit or her (probably illegal) pet unicorn. I’m sorry if I implied otherwise.

  16. This was shared on FB and I was so glad I clicked it!!! To the haters out there–don’t read it if you don’t like it!!!!! This was quite entertaining unless you don’t have a sense of humor…..but maybe I’m making assumptions

    • How is someone supposed to know if they like or dislike a piece of writing if they don’t read it first? That’s called being “open minded”.

  17. I have a unicorn.

    • Hi I am so grateful I found your webpage, I really found you by error, while I was searching on Yahoo for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a incredible post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the th)dg/mesiene, I don’t have time to look over it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the awesome job.

  18. Love it as usual! Well said.

  19. I will trade my neighbors barking dog for Danni’s unicorn.

    Oh, the blog post… um, yea it was spot on. Balance is the feeling of personal satisfaction that it’s ok to short one activity to advance another activity.

  20. Great post Liz. I believe the Today show mentioned that her job was in fitness so of course she’d look fit. Someone used the example that they wouldn’t judge (probably the wrong word here) someone for not accomplishing what they do for a living with the example of a picture if a mom, kids, and several books she’s written since she’s an author and then asking “What’s you excuse (for not writing novels).” Or maybe when Hillary is elected president she could pose for a picture and ask everyone why they aren’t president.

  21. Heaven forbid we as Americans choose to live a healthy lifestyle (i.e. choose not buy pre-made frozen dinners, microwave meals, and drink 4 gallons of soda a day). Americans want fitness and health to come to them in a pill and a 10 min exercise once a week. Sorry, not how it works. A healthy lifestyle is just that, a lifestyle. It’s a choice. It’s how we live our lives. I choose not to dip my frozen pizza in ranch dressing because after years of healthy, clean eating, it makes me sick to my stomach. I choose to spend my free time on Sunday afternoons doing box jumps and kettlebell swings. I don’t think Maria is telling the world that she “has it all.” She’s telling the world that it takes effort, dedication, and a full-blown lifestyle to have a hot body, a strong heart, and a level of fitness that enables you to live and feel better. Americans make too many excuses about why they aren’t in shape. Cry me a river, stop eating your face off and go work out.

    • John, Liz does run and work out and trapeze. She also raises children and volunteers for various events. These are the choices she makes, along with the occasional glass (or three) of wine along with pizza dipped in ranch. Her point, duh, is that “having it all” is in the eye of the beholder (or her passive-aggressive husband.) And that the original article made many people feel like if we didn’t live up to Maria’s expectations, ridiculous as they are for most women, we’re failures. We choose what our “all” is. I choose to be chubby and eat mountains of Stouffers Macaroni and Cheese because I’m happiest that way. Your way is different.

  22. Nicely done, Liz. My take-away is a combination of cognizance, giggles, and enjoyment :-).

  23. Are those people who are spewing PMS vomit actual parents? And if so, have they forgotten the bloodshed war that happens in the first year between your priorities and the priorities of your red, wrinkly, shit-smearing, boob-deflating, ear-peircing, inspiration for wrapping a noose around your neck? Some days I have to choose between keeping my 7 month old alive and putting on underwear. Well, actually, that very real situation may be one of my favorite things about having a needy-ass baby (both literally and figuratively cuz let’s face it…their asses can become VERY needy if there’s any chance they’ve gotten quiet for more than 2 minutes.) Bravo, Liz, for shining a bit of light on the painful, Zoloft inducing experience it is to be a parent. When you still have 2 day old baby puke in your hair you don’t want to be confronted with the ever so common competition that American women have created between each other. Instead of Maria blatantly shaming me for my flabby stomach and probably my just as flabby vagina (unless her vagina is flabby, too, which would actually make me feel a little better and in that case her caption should probably be something else) she should be calling me up asking if there’s anything she can do to help get me through this tormenting experience Im trying to live through. And I would accept that offer if for nothing else than possibly getting her to shave my legs. My husband’s starting to question if Im a real human or some sort of sasquatch. So there’s my rant fueled by the fact I’ve been up for the past 24 hours straight because my spawn has the flu. Or maybe this rant is just my desperate attempt to feel like I have some kind of real human interaction since I haven’t been able to leave my house in 3 weeks.

    Someone please bring me groceries.

    • I remember what it was like to raise a toddler and a newborn at the same time. While it is time and energy depleting, you can still usually find at least 30 minutes to be active and productive for yourself. For example, you just spent time and energy writing the longest comment in this thread. Time and energy that could have been used to shave your legs or wash two-day old baby puke out of your hair.

  24. It is possible to live a healthy lifestyle without having to become fanatical about it and use your kids as a prop to draw attention to yourself. A picture of this mom by herself gets minimal attention unless she inserts her children in to the photo.

  25. It’s PR, pure and simple.

  26. I would agree with your hyperbole and say that there are definitely things that she has to have given up to achieve what she has. That was her choice and bully for her. There are others that make different choices just like you said. I personally have tried to make some of the choices that she made but I found that I was more interested in eating relatively well but poorly when I want. I am a sucker for a bacon cheeseburger or rack of ribs dripping in BBQ sauce.

    I also don’t think anyone can have it all! Women can’t. Men can’t. Kids can’t. It is all about choices for everyone. I would love to be at home with my kids more than I am but to be able to afford the good neighborhood and let my wife stay home to home school, I have to work. More than I would like most weeks. I want to learn some programming languages, but I have to spend my time grading lab reports and planning lessons. I would like to work on some robotics with my son, but I need to go to parent-teacher nights and tutor kids who are struggling. We all make choices and very few of us can say we have it all. It is not just women who can’t “have it all.”

  27. Thank you for making me laugh about this! Up til now it’ s just made me really sad. What people seem to forget in this “race to get sexy” after having babies is that some of us need to really heal afterward.

    I had two difficult pregnancies with complications, and both ended in c-sections. I also developed severe sciatica during the second. But as soon as my son was 3 months old I was off to the gym trying to get fit and lose the baby weight. I tried not to push myself too hard, and got the advice of a female personal trainer, but sometimes the stretching and ab work would make me bleed. I kept going. I did the rowing machine, thinking it would strengthen my stomach. My back pain got worse. When my son was 8 months old I tried to run with him on my hip ( we were late for preschool for my daughter) and threw my back out completely.

    The next two years of my life were spent in agony. Some days I crawled because I couldn’t walk. I had fallen victim to the pressure to “get it back”. I hated my post-pregnancy body and thought I had to do whatever it took to make myself look “presentable” again. I hate that I let messages like this one convince me to punish my body, which had just done something beautiful, to make it fit in a culture where sexiness is more valued in women than being a good mother. Never again.

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