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The Globe and Mail

Women can’t have it all, Drew Barrymore says – and that’s OK

U.S actress Drew Barrymore arrive for the world premiere for the film Going The Distance, at a central London cinema, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010.

Joel Ryan/AP

So women still can't have it all?

Well if that's the case, it may not be such a bad thing, according to actress and producer Drew Barrymore.

The 38-year-old may have found success in both her career and family life (Barrymore is married to art consultant Will Kopelman and the two had a baby girl in September), but even the Hollywood star admits she has had to pick her battles.

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"There's sometimes things you've invested a lot of time into or cared so much about, and you get to the precipice and you're like, 'I can't do it,' because I won't do everything else well or I will miss out on this or I need to be over here now," she told Us Weekly magazine. "I think it's a lot about sacrifice."

From the sounds of it, Barrymore tends to choose family over work.

"You know that you're going to miss out on your child's upbringing or you realize that your relationship is going to suffer if you work night and day and weekends," she says. "Unfortunately, I was raised in this, like, generation of, like, 'Women can have it all,' and I don't think you can. I think some things fall off the table. The good news is, what does stay on the table becomes much more important."

Barrymore's outlook may seem contrary to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg's advice for women to "lean in" to their careers, and falls more in line with Globe columnist Margaret Wente's observation that many smart, savvy women today are not leaning in, but "leaning back" from their work to find more balance in their family lives.

"Given the realities of the modern workplace, the mystery isn't why there aren't more women at the top but why so many want to get there," Wente wrote. "Most women, if they have the choice, are happy to trade long hours and money for flexibility and control."

The fact that even Barrymore – someone who appears to be in a supportive marriage and who could probably afford the best childcare money can buy – is resigned to the idea of sacrificing her work for her family has prompted mixed reactions.

"Good for you Drew!" wrote one commenter on the Us Weekly website.

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Adds another: "'Women can have it all' was a slogan to make women feel empowered but indirectly made most feel inadequate when they could not. The truth is neither women nor men can truly have it all. That is life."

One commenter, however, disagreed: "This is a BAD role model for a daughter. Women CAN have it all if they want to knock themselves out and work really really hard … (if they think their self expression or vocation is WORTH it). That is the BEST role model for a daughter."

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