I was talking with a group today and after listening to the conversation for some time, I realised that a lot of the people involved in the discussion weren’t happy with how they saw themselves.
If they were to hold a mirror in front of them, they saw only the flaws and what was missing. The conversation was an interesting discussion about mothers (all in their 30s and 40s) and the different situations they were in and the feelings of what was referred to as ‘societal pressures’ to do the right thing.
There were a lot of comments made during the discussion like…..,
“I have to work and my manager doesn’t understand my situation….”
“I have to work as I can’t afford not to….”
“I am giving my kids what they really need by having me as their caregiver, although I’ve heard having a nanny is the best solution……”
“As a working mother I am teaching my kids that they need to work to have what they want in life……..”
“As a working mother, I am missing out on giving my kids what they really need from me…”
I see and hear comments similar to these every week. It strikes me that for managers of these working mums and the working mums themselves, there is a huge opportunity to really create the future as we want it, versus how we think society defines it.
We work with some forward thinking, innovative, leading organisations who are really starting to challenge the “career OR family” debate and look instead at how to deliver a “career AND family” solution. We see this particularly in the science, academic and professional industries where this tends to be a big issue in senior leadership roles.
I wonder sometimes, as mothers of our generation, if we have become a product of our own environment. We have created lifestyles where we feel we don’t have choices, because luxury has become the norm and organisations and society seem to have strong views on mothers with careers, which seem to have become accepted, not challenged.
So as a working mother myself, I would say if you decide to go back to paid work, make a career out of raising your kids, or stay in a work environment that inhibits you being the person you want to see in the mirror, accept that these are all choices you make. Take ownership of your choices and rather than let society or other people determine what you feel you “should’ be doing, or justify your decision; make a choice, look in the mirror and see if you like what you see.