I want it all…

“SO, you’re a career woman?” Asked a man I dated briefly a lifetime ago.

It was obvious he needed to know my plans for the future and the words “career woman” seemed to leave a bitter taste in his mouth.

He didn’t know I came from a family of seven children and DID want kids.

Just not with him.

I’m part of a generation heavily schooled in the “women can do anything” doctrine.

Which is why I had blithely intended to have a stellar career, a beautiful bevy of children and be happy, happy, happy.

What they don’t teach you is just how hard it can be to have it all.

And it can make you anything but happy.

It’s a familiar struggle for mums – regardless of their decision to stay home, work or do both – to pursue personal happiness when they have children.

The guilt comes from all angles.

You are either neglecting your children to forge a career, or you’re an unreliable employee who must leave early to collect your offspring from daycare.

Thankfully, more and more employers are sympathetic to such plights.

For example, it’s now possible for me to work from home – working on a range of newspapers and still taking care of my son.

People often exclaim: “what a marvellous situation”.

Indeed, and I’m very grateful.

But it’s also bloody hard work and I still feel like I’m either neglecting my son or dropping my own personal work standards.

In the beginning, my toddler would protest my apparent disregard for his demands by biting my hip – at times while I was on the phone to my boss.

I developed a real knack to disguising the hysteria in my voice as high-pitched enthusiasm. Or maybe I wasn’t fooling anyone.

Thankfully, we’ve worked out how best to get my work done and have his needs met.

But the guilt-tripping doesn’t stop once your children are school-aged.

Many mums complain there is an automatic assumption they will return to the workforce now they have no children at home.

What many people don’t consider is the volunteer work that SAHMs do every week.

They’re in the school tuckshops, libraries, playgroups, and a whole range of community groups, putting their skills to use and helping out in a capacity that still allows them to be home when their children need them.

They are still valuable members of the community.

Personally, I think I’ll return to the office with much renewed enthusiasm and probably severe trepidation.

I’m liable to start cutting up colleague’s lunches while they’re on the phone and uh-uh-uh-ing people when they curse.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hpretty
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 19:23:09

    Exactly the same sentiment as a blog i’ve just started called “having it all”, how spooky! I agree entirely with everything you say.


  2. petajo
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 03:49:44

    Thanks Henrietta Pretty – glad you could relate! Took a squiz at your blogs too, love your “letting myself go” item. Often worry people think I don’t care about my unbrushed hair when in reality I only remembered as I walked out the door (and as any mum will attest, you don’t turn around once the kids and assorted bags are in the car!)


  3. hpretty
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 08:02:41

    Thanks. i tiotally agree with you. have subscribed to your blog so i can read updates. keep reading mine if you can!


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