I am proud to be a woman. I am trying to “have it all”. In a space of seven years, I have had three children, built my career and completed my postgraduate studies. I am proud to say that I did the same job as my male peers while cumulatively being pregnant for over two years. The same job at which for months, I had to express milk every three to four hours in the office, as my children were still on breast milk. Some people say I am superwoman. Others insinuate I am a bad mother for not making the kids my only purpose in life.

Let’s face it, ladies: It is tiring trying to “have it all”. Having it all also means not having it all. Not enough sleep. Minimal social life. Hardly any time alone with my husband. Personal time is pretty much non-existent. Our hard-earned money seems to disappear on day care and the mortgage. I am not put off by the toughness of our life because there is no place I’d rather be than here.

Perhaps we, as a society, need to rethink and redefine the notion of “having it all”.

I love being a mother but it is not enough for me to only be defined by my children.

We women need to understand one thing: we have choices.

We can choose to have a partner. We can choose to have children. We can choose to encourage that partner to be supportive of our choices. We can choose not to let our children take away our choices. We can choose to change the world or equally, just our own.

I have heard many women complaining that their partners don’t help out at home. Often, the same women complain that their children are difficult and hard to manage. Credit is due to my husband for part of what I have achieved but I will not exclaim how exceptionally lucky I am to have a man who supports me. My expectation of a partner is someone who is not threatened by success and is willing to share the load equally.

We women need to make our choices known.

We also need to be accountable for the state of our lives. Take ownership and carry it out. Demand the help instead of drowning on your own. People can be on board or they can stop holding you back. Friends should enrich your life, not see you as competition. My friends come from all walks of life: Working mums, stay-home-mums, not-yet-mums, accidental-mums, never-want-to-be-mums and my-kids-are-almost-out-the-door-mums. We each respect the different choices we have made and will continue to make.

I find myself admiring a woman more when I see her being respected by the people around her. I admire her ability to exercise her choices and be accountable for the results. I recently met a woman who, after choosing to look after her ex-husband and children for over 30 years, has now chosen to pursue competitive dirt bike racing. How cool is that?

My husband and I have chosen to focus equally on both our family and our careers. Because of that choice, we did not choose our ideal house with pool views of the city. We did not choose partying on the weekends. We did not choose lavish dinners at romantic restaurants. Because I choose to feed my children a balanced meal each night, I spend seven hours on a Sunday cooking food for the week. My husband chooses to have order in the house and so he chooses to clean the house for seven hours on the weekend. And within these seven hours, the children have a choice to spend time with us and help us with the chores or to play in the garden. My husband and I choose to be with each other every day. These choices usually mean we are all bed by 9pm every night.

“Having it all” is about having what you choose to have and being able to change the world, only if you choose to. You are not less of a woman for believing in love and companionship. You are not less of a woman if you do not believe in love and companionship. You are not less of a woman for having a career. You are not less of a woman for staying at home for the kids. You are not less of a woman for wanting or not wanting to look like Heidi Klum. You are exactly the woman you choose to be.