You Don’t Have To Do It All By Yourself


We can have it all. We can do it all. Whatever ‘it’ is, as women, we’re capable of it. I don’t have any hesitations about agreeing with either statement. The thought that follows for me, however, is: do we have to? In order to be considered an empowered, 21st century women, are we required to have it all, and do it all?

Because, frankly, I’m tired of doing it all. As a divorced mother of two (one adult, one teen) who currently both live with me, I’ve been doing it all in my home for a long time. Yes, my kids do chores, and as they get older, more chores. But at the end of the day, if it doesn’t get done, it’s on me. Sometimes, like this week, it gets to me. And it resulted in a break-down like I haven’t had in a long time.

So here’s what happened. I needed to replace my laundry machine. At the store, I asked the salesperson if delivery included installation. He replied that it wasn’t really necessary: all my husband has to do is unscrew 4 shipping bolts, connect the hoses, make sure the machine is level (using the handy-dandy tool provided plus my own level. “You’ve got a level, right?” ) and plug it in. Ten minutes work, tops. It sounds pretty easy in theory, except for the first part: there is no husband. I glossed over that part of his sentence, considered the burgeoning manly skills of my teenage son, and agreed that I could handle setting it up myself.

Of course, at my house, these things always go like constructing IKEA furniture. My laundry room is rather small, and is wisely built so the floor slopes to the floor drain. Perfect in the case of a water leak. Horrific for anyone trying to level a machine who is also trying to heed the warning to avoid extending the leveling feet too high or the machine will vibrate too much. And then there’s the fact that, while my son turned off the water, connected the hoses and got the water back on without a flood (with me standing importantly over his shoulder), his father arrived to pick him up after he had adjusted one corner of the machine in our bid to make it level. No worries, I thought. I can do it.

Except I couldn’t. The screws applied at the factory were too tight for the ridiculous soft metal handy-dandy tool they sent, and it kept slipping off the bolts without budging them. But due to the small workspace between the washer bottom and the bolt, it was the only tool available because the wrenches I have are too big. And washing machines are heavy as you try to shift them to get to bolts and ‘more level’ areas of the floor. My patience eventually turned to frustration and I screamed at the machine.

Things went downhill from there. Tears were involved. I quickly realized that only some of the tears were for the washing machine fiasco. Lots of those tears were mourning the fact that I have to do it all. They were tears of self-pity and frustration and sadness, and, yes, exhaustion. I realized that I don’t want to do it all. I need support. I need way more support than I ask for.

We all need support. No-one can do it all. (No-one, in my opinion can have it all, all at the same time. All of it is possible, but it comes in waves. But that is an entire different topic!) But women nowadays are expected to do too much on their own. To be too much on their own. We’ve been lead to believe that asking for help is weakness. It’s not: asking for help is a sign of strength. Asking for help allows us to spare our energy so that we can share our gifts with the world. Our energy is too precious to waste on stupid bolts: my ‘stupid bolts’ are an analogy for anything in your life that is a waste of your precious energy.

Asking for help is also a really good indication that you have people in your life who love you and are willing to support you. Even if, occasionally, you have to pay for that help (like I really wish I had decided to do when the salesman suggested I could set up my machine without the help of a pro). Paying for help with things that aren’t your strength or expertise indicates you love yourself enough to be responsible with your energy.

Lucky for me, my dad is a phone call away. After doing the best I could with the extendible leveling feet, I called dad and together we problem-solved how to get that machine level. When my son comes home, I’m going to let him finish the job. You know why?

Because I can’t do it all.

I would love to hear your thoughts! What are your ‘stupid bolts’? How do you spare your energy so you have it to share with the world? What help do you accept?

Until next time,
I wish you vibrant health and a beautiful day


Lisa Petty, PhD

Lisa Petty, PhD, is a midlife mentor and well-being strategist who helps women release the pressure to be everything to everyone so they can take care of their own well-being—without guilt. Dr. Petty helps women move through midlife uncertainty to emerge re-energized, with a redefined sense of who they are and what they want.