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Millennial Moms Don't Have It All, They Just Do It All

I was settling in for an interview over Zoom when I glanced at my baby monitor and saw it: the unmistakable wiggle of a toddler who’d pooped himself awake from a nap. I sighed and set the monitor aside. I had no choice but to wait till after the call to check on him.

When the Zoom ended, I dashed in to clean him up, then texted my friend a photo of the three of us (my baby, myself and my laptop). “Look at me,” I wrote wryly. “I have it all.”

I started thinking a lot about “having it all” after my son was born in late 2021. I went back to work after four months of parental leave, breast-pumping my way through phone calls and changing diapers on the sly. I loved being close to my son and was lucky to have a husband who thrived as a stay-at-home dad, but it was all so completely exhausting. For every stolen midday snuggle there was sobbing (on both sides of the door) when I had to close my eyes and tune out my son’s cries for Mommy as I buckled down to get a project done.

Surely, I often thought to myself, this isn’t what Helen Gurley Brown had in mind when she published “Having It All,” her famed book of advice on balancing sex, work, relationships and more, in 1982. I may have a career and a family, but I often “have it all” — or, rather, do it all — at the exact same time.

In the summer of 2012, just a couple of years into my journalism career, The Atlantic published Anne-Marie Slaughter’s culture-defining text, “ Why Women Still Can’t Have It All .” In it, she described stepping back from powerful government work to be closer to home and more available to her two teenage sons, and she outlined the workplace changes she saw as necessary to allow ambitious women to pursue big careers and remain present mothers.


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