I know – the title of this post is a loaded question.

The feminist in me scoffs at it and asks, “And why not? Men have been doing it without problems or questions for centuries. So now, in 2011, isn’t it about time that women would be able to do it, too?”

And then there is the realist in me. The working woman who added “mommy” to her titles through adoption nearly five years ago when that sweet, scared, 16-month-old girl was placed in my arms.

Who accepted a position with a statewide organization to be able to work part-time hours to be able to better take on the additional role that was now a part of my life.

Who became a mommy again less than a year and a half after the first time to a tiny nine-month-old boy.

Who quit the part-time job because her baby boy refused to eat or sleep while at daycare and couldn’t bear to put him through any more than what he’d already experienced in his short life.

Who, despite loving her children more than her own life and wanting to be there for them in every way, felt an inextricable tug to do something more.

Who still struggles with the career/kid mix even though she now is self-employed and works from home.

I feel so fortunate to have such a great partner in my husband. We jointly made the decisions that impacted my career after weighing the options and determining what was in the best interests for everyone in our family (I made less money and had fewer benefits working in my former career in nonprofit management, so it was a no-brainer that I would be the primary caretaker). He fully supports my life as a career consultant, works with me to divide the workload at home so neither one of us is overly burdened, and is a huge part in the day-to-day planning that keeps us all sane and on-schedule (mostly) around here.

So, back to the original question – can women have it all with careers and kids? My answer to that always seems to go back to, “Yes, but at a price.”

We all have the same 168 hours every week, so when you are juggling careers and kids, something has to give. Maybe it will be that you will work part-time instead of full time. Maybe you will miss seeing your child’s basketball game or have to catch a flight on your daughter’s birthday due to work obligations. Maybe you will skimp on your sleep, getting an average of five hours a night rather than the recommended eight hours.

Truth be told, the latter two are prices that men have been paying for years. They haven’t been able to be as present in their children’s lives because of their work, or they have had to go on less sleep to cover everything at work and at home. So have they really “had it all?” Not really.

Maybe, then, it’s time to stop running ourselves crazy trying to attain an impossible dream and accept that there is give and take with this career/kid balance. Sometimes the career gets more time and the kid part of life is sacrificed; sometimes the kids get more attention and a work duty is delegated to someone else on the work team. It happens.

All you can do is make the best choices given the circumstances in front of you in any given situation, and then trust that whatever you have chosen to do is the right thing for you and your little ones.

melissacooley

Melissa Cooley is a career consultant with a passion for helping clients reach their job hunt goals and maximize their career potential. Melissa also provides a fresh perspective and other resources for job hunting and career management on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. In addition to blogging on The Job Quest and The Bottomless Briefcase, she is also a contributor to Nourish Your Career, a career book that brings together top tips from leading career professionals. A native of Wisconsin, Melissa enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and two children.