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Saturday, 2 July 2011

Super Woman: Can Women Really Have It All?

Can women juggle everything?

Today I finally got confirmation of my latest career prospect sent to me. I read the email carefully as it sank in that I am finally going to be attempting to do something that I had envisaged doing for the last few years. Now, as I was looking at the computer screen it wasn't the prospect of the heavy workload that I found daunting, oh no, it was the fact that I would be attempting to do this whilst having 3 children, 2 of them being under 3.

Up until this point I had been fairly positive about my capabilities, having always tried to veer on the side of optimism in regards to my life goals even when obstacles have set me back, but today I made the mistake of speaking to a negative acquaintance who somehow managed to unlock all the doubts that I had put to the back of mind – don't you just want to slap those people!

Anyway, after a fairly large glass of wine and a munch on my favourite cheesecake I feel much better, but I'm still left with the thought....Can women really have it all? Since waaaay back my mum drummed into me that I should leave kids until I was in my thirties, and pursue a career, trying her best to put me off having a child young like she did me at 18, due to having to put her own dreams and ambitions on hold, or having to let some of them go completely. Life hey, it has a knack of sometimes going full circle and sure enough I had my first son who is now 10, 5 weeks before my 18th birthday.

Looking back I cringe at my naivety, but the moment I held his little body in my arms I knew that no matter what, I would turn this around and make something of myself. Since as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a mother and have a career. For me the two were intertwined in my own personal identity even before I was a 'mother' or an 'employee'.

When you have 1 child people tend to be more supportive of your ambitions, 2 children again people are supportive believing that you can achieve what you want to 'You just have to put the extra effort in' but 3 children is another story. This negative acquaintance looked at me like I was literally going mad when I told her what I was doing (and she's not the first) “How are you going to cope?” I was instantly asked. Now I wouldn't mind if her comment was coming from a place of concern – but hell nah, this was coming from 'all she's good for now is breeding, why don't she just sit down and look after her pickneys, how dare she still have ambitions!' (yes that's how she speaks). “I will be fine I answered” thinking you stupid bitch woman, and that's where the doubt crept in.

Between my eldest and middle child there is an 8-year gap, during this time I studied, worked and of course waited for Mr Right! When I finally met him cough cough I was faced with a dilemma - do I carry on pursuing my career and leave having more children until I'm older and more financially stable? Or do I have another baby in my twenties and put my career on hold? Obviously I chose the latter but many women do choose to have babies when they are in their thirties and forties many of whom say that it's because they have reached the pinnacle of their careers, they are more financially stable, and more grounded personally. What is right for everyone is down to personal choice, but whatever age you have babies most of us have to go back to work at some point.

I was once told by someone a man that I was actually better off staying at home and enjoying my children rather than leaving them with a child minder, and to a certain point I can see where they were coming from. I love spending time with my children but staying at home for the next 3-years whilst waiting for my youngest to go to school fills me with dread, there is only so much Peppa Pig and Rastamouse that I can take! I feel that by developing my education and career I am contributing to the betterment of their quality of life and that far outweighs my feelings that I am neglecting them by being away whilst earning a living, and in this current economic climate, there really is no choice but to go to work.

At the same time how successful can a woman with a family be? Is it actually possible to be a wonderful mother, have a career, plus be a supportive wife or partner? Do you think that women are trying to spread themselves too thinly? Are we under too much pressure to compete with men? Can women really have it all?


  1. A very interesting post Bi and one I can definitively relate to particularly regarding wanting to give your children a better quality of life.

    I once listened in on a conversation with two women. One a working mum of one boisterous 8-year-old boy (from what she said) and a stay at home mother of two under 9 year old boys.
    The working mother made a statement which I could see put the back out of the at home mother, she said something a long the lines of “I have never had the privilege of being a stay at home mother”. As soon as she said it I thought a privilege, really? Maybe if you have millions in the bank and you don’t have to worry about putting a roof over your child/children’s head!
    The stay at home mother made the point she does not view it as privileged at all rather it is hard work!

    I definitely think to be a stay at home mother or a mother with a career is a personal decision. It’s about what works for you and your children.
    There are plenty of at home mothers who are happy and like wise plenty of career climbing mothers whom our also happy.

    I think for you to not try in the first place would be a travesty especially if you believe you will be improving the quality of life for your children.

    Definitely don’t pay attention to the naysayers Bi pursue your dreams/goals and to hell with the small-minded people.

    So to answer your question yes women can have 'it' (what ever the 'it' you want it to be) all! It just takes hardwork and balance.

  2. Thanks Si I agree that everyone is different and what is right for one person isn't right for another. I actually commend women that also choose to stay at home too. It is not easy having children literally being your boss - they don't believe in breaks for a start!

    Yes I think balance is essential, even though it can be hard it is possible, afterall we are women, we can do ANYTHING!

  3. We can have it all - sometimes it feels like we are not doing it all as well as the movies tell us or as good as the neighbour or the other mums at nursery/school; most of the time we are just not giving ourselves enough credit.

    I say Bianca go for it. This is the essence of you - being ambitious. I think one thing that we are never told is that part of being good parents is showing children the stuff we are made of and that includes pursuing your dreams no matter what. So you are doing a fabulous thing for your boys; you are setting them the best example, how to be confident in your abilities (doubts are allowed, but you bring them out, put them on the table and smash them one by one - so say thanks to that cow!), and pursue your dreams!

    And remember, you got good friends who will support you on this next journey!X

  4. Aaaaahhhh thanks Rhoda I totally agree that good parenting includes showing our children what we are made of, and also that women do not give themselves enough credit for what they do, whether they choose a career path or to stay at home with their children.

    It's great to know that I have a brilliant support network, it makes life so much better knowing that people have your back and believe in you. Thank you! xx

  5. Firstly don't listen to people who tell you it is not possible or you can't do it, those are not great people to have around. As a mother it must be very hard to try and do both very well that someone doesn't miss out on your time and effort. It is possible to do both but very hard, I guess that is when you need a great other half, great family and friends, church that help share the burden. They saying that it takes a village to raise a child comes to mind. Its a great example to your children and colleagues that yes i am mother but i work and work hard and to your children that ambition is good and working towards is a great motivator and if mum can do it so can i attitude. Only you will know how much is too much to take on

  6. I agree with a lot of the comments already made!

    1) Do not pay any mind to naysayers or negative influences.

    2) Yes its possible I can think of a lot of sucessful mothers, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't work towards your own personal goals.