• Why we can't have it all.
  • Author avatar
    Amelia Slocombe
  • babiesblogbusinesschildrenmotherhoodparentingrelationshipsRock of Feathertoddlerstruthwomanwork

Why we can't have it all.

Rock of Feather - chewable jewellery for babies We see the statistics all the time. Not enough women are directors on company boards. Not enough women are paid as well as men. Too many women are abandoning high paying jobs and illustrious careers, long before they get to management levels.

From an academic point of view, it really doesn't make any sense. We compete with our male counterparts at school without any problems, and tend to achieve better results. Universities are balanced between the sexes across most subjects. Even graduate posts seem evenly split, with some jobs, such as law in particular, attracting more women than men. 

So what happens to us ten years down the line? The media would blame a male oriented society that pushes women out of managerial positions and actively discriminates against us in terms of pay. But, in reality, is it something even worse than that? Is it actually us who are to blame? 

Before I attract feminist vitriol, I hasten to add that when I say that women are to blame, I don't mean in the sense that we aren't trying hard enough to get where we want to be. I actually mean the opposite - we are burning ourselves out in our desperate efforts to please too many people.

Let me give you a practical example. I work full-time, whilst my husband is a stay at home dad. It works perfectly for us - I am a lawyer, he was a microbiologist. You don't need a degree in Maths to understand that we would be financially better off if I worked. I am also incredibly lucky. I have a husband that actually does house work. He cooks. He cleans. He gardens. He draws the line at any form of paperwork, but I will forgive him for that. 

If the situation were reversed, and my husband were the lawyer, I can absolutely guarantee he wouldn't see his children Monday to Friday. And the key thing? I don't think it would bother him. Not because he is cold hearted, but because he would probably reason that it is a sad but necessary part of being the breadwinner.

I, on the other hand, feel GUILT. Guilt if I have to leave work early. Guilt if I have to stay at work and miss bedtime. And so much guilt that I pretty much want to top myself if I am not there for my children at weekends. Not helped by the fact that my 3-year old will look at me with his Bambi-like brown eyes to declare that he would rather we had no money and that I didn't go to work at all (yes, despite being a toddler, he has already grasped basic economic fundamentals). 

But do the vast majority of fathers feel like this? Maybe in passing, but I am pretty sure they reassure themselves that they are acting for the greater good of their family. And there is also a small part of them, I'm sure, that sees bedtime as a chore they would rather they didn't have to do. Why else would they arrive home two minutes after their children have gone to bed?!

So, back to maternal guilt. Because I feel guilty, I try to juggle my career and my children simultaneously. And in trying to achieve both, I occasionally fail. Fail to work hard enough to get the promotion. Fail in my willingness to get a better job because it will result in longer hours. Fail to give my 7 month old as much attention as she deserves because I don't want my toddler to feel neglected. Fail, fail, fail. 

But it's not that I am not trying. The issue is, ultimately, that I am putting too much pressure on myself to succeed at everything. And by trying to succeed at everything, I am not achieving as much as I am sure I could do if I just devoted myself to just one thing. 

So, what is the solution? 

Some will argue that it IS possible to have everything, and point to those famous female CEOs that have four children, two dogs and a hamster. But I would argue that there is a reason that they are in the minority. Either they think like men - they have (every credit to them) ignored the pangs of guilt, hired a nanny (or even two) and reasoned that in a few years time they will have more time for their children. Or they are simply one of the blessed few that have more energy than most. God hate em.

So what can we do to reach the top if we need more than four hours sleep a night and rely on Starbucks to wake us up in the morning?

My only advice is simple really. STOP feeling guilty. Whether you are at work full-time, a stay at home mum or attempting to juggle both. The minutes we waste on guilt-induced stress is neither productive or healthy. Do you think our other halves feel guilty when they sit down to watch television when they really should be doing the dishes? Like hell they do. If we stopped with the constant guilt tripping, we would probably achieve a lot more. And remember that where work is concerned, the key to success is actually productivity. Not how long you spend in the office or arse licking your boss. If your efforts yield results (even if you leave on the dot of 5) you will ultimately be rewarded. And if they don't, you are in the wrong job. 

And my final pearl of wisdom? Don't let those Bambi eyes stop you from achieving everything you want to do in life. Children are like sponges, they will absorb as much of you as they can. But that's not to say that they mind a great deal if you occasionally miss bedtime. They will happily make time for you in their schedules at 5am the next day. The little treasures that they are.
  • Author avatar
    Amelia Slocombe
  • babiesblogbusinesschildrenmotherhoodparentingrelationshipsRock of Feathertoddlerstruthwomanwork

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