Chrissie Swan: 'Having it all' is just 'having a life'
"I put my three-year-old to bed and quickly read him a story. I confess I skipped every second page and invented the end when I felt like it" … Chrissie Swan. Photo: Julian Kingma
I've been doing a few interviews lately because I've started a new job as the host of Can of Worms. It's the usual roster of radio and press commitments and, frankly, the usual roster of questions. The first one I am asked, without exception, is: "How does it feel to have it all?" Of course, what the journos and broadcasters are referring to is the fact that I have two small children and I hold down a breakfast-radio job as well as the once-a-week hosting duties for the TV show.
I'm not sure why, but every time I'm asked that question I have the overwhelming desire to poke someone in the eye. Because what's the answer? Am I supposed to take a swig of Krug and bleat, "Graysh, thanks! It feels ahmahzing to have it all, thanks so much for noticing."
The fact is, though, that from where I stand, "having it all" just feels kind of like having a job and having kids. Nothing more and nothing less.
I read a great quote this week: "The reason we struggle with insecurity is we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone's highlight reel." So to answer the question "How does it feel to have it all?" I offer the following insights into my own behind-the-scenes ...
1. My alarm goes off at 4.45am. I sneak out of the marital bed and get dressed in the kitchen because everyone is still asleep. I lay my clothes out the night before and sometimes forget my shoes or undergarments, so at least once a week I turn up to the studio with no shoes/a floppy maternity bra/no undies.
2. I could probably get up a bit earlier and run a straightener over my hair, but I opt for the extra 15 minutes sleep. The drawback of this is that I spend the majority of my day looking like an escapee from an asylum.
3. I always forget to make sure there are enough bananas. We run out of them – often. And they're the only fruit my one-year-old will eat.
4. Last week, I put my three-year-old to bed and quickly read him a story. I confess I skipped every second page and invented The End when I felt like it.
5. Weet-Bix and blueberries can double as dinner.
6. I just measured a hair on my leg and it came in at an impressive 1.2 centimetres. Clearly, I need a Post-it note in the bathroom that says "shave".
7. Last week my gas was nearly cut off because I forgot to pay the bill. I had to call them and beg for an extension, spurred on by visions of my children in layers of clothing huddled around the cat for warmth.
8. I made a terrible waldorf salad and chicken spare ribs for dinner and I couldn't even talk about how foul it was. Later that night, I heard my partner stirring up a glass of Fybogel to make up for the distinct lack of edible anything in the meal department.
9. The "service me NOW" light has been on in my car for about four months – but, seriously, how can I survive without the car for two days? I will probably drive it until it explodes. And work it out then.
10. My three-year-old knows 15 types of dinosaur and I have no idea who taught him. Where have I been?
So there you have it. That's what "having it all" feels like. If it sounds familiar, that's because it is. It's life. It is what living feels like. It's busy and disappointing and being spread too thin. It's also joyful and crazy and rewarding and funny. It's the same as your life.
Every time I read an article on women "having it all", it is accompanied by a picture of a model in a crisp black suit, looking exasperated and juggling a smart phone and a teddy bear. What a load of rubbish.
Actually, maybe I just found that elusive thing that deserves that poke in the eye?
This article first appeared in Sunday Life.
Do you have any of your own 'behind the scenes' secrets to tell? Add them in the comments below ...