Being a mother is extremely rewarding. However, some women have to choose between unintended repercussions in choosing to pursue a career while raising a family. Having a career and motherhood can come with a whirlwind of emotions.
Let me preface this article by saying that I do not take a stance on having a baby or choosing a career while being a parent. This is a decision every woman must make for herself.
Furthermore, the decision to have a baby is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make in your life. Did I mention this was a big decision? Motherhood is a full time job in itself.
Not to mention, there is the fact that you have been working most of your life and may feel the need to choose between the two.
Many women out there wonder, can you ever flawlessly integrate your career with motherhood? Can we have it all?
Some common worries women have while trying to decide if they should have a child :
“I can barely take care of myself”
“It’s too expensive to have children”
“I’ll have to worry about someone for the rest of my life”
“What if I get divorced and they come from a broken home”
“I’m doing great in my career right now and I don’t want to mess that up”
CAREER AND MOTHERHOOD
Considering having a child is sometimes really hard for a woman to envision when she loves her career and/or cannot imagine disrupting financial stability. Many women wonder if they can give equal attention to both.
Women have the difficult decision of feeling they need to choose between their career and a baby. You’ve put all of that money and time into your future.
In your mind, ten years from now, you’ve climbed the ladder and your top dog. But then you are weighing the decision to have a baby. Often in a woman’s mind, fear kicks in and the new vision is, will this hurt my career? Which one should I choose?
There can be so many reasons to feel undecided or to feel like the timing isn’t right.
I attended college for seven years. SEVEN YEARS!. After receiving two master’s degrees and putting in the clinical hours to receive my license in mental health counseling, it was finally time to see what I was made of.
So when the time came where my husband had reached peak career stability, he was ready to discuss with me if we should start trying. I was not there yet.
I couldn’t imagine going through all of that time and effort to jump into having kids before I could see what was out there, what I could achieve professionally.
The other big roadblock was that I always knew I wanted to be the one to raise my children, which meant work would have to come second best.
Once I found a job that paid what I never thought I could get paid in my field, and after buying a house I could be proud of, it was time to put the baby discussion back on the table.
Fast forward three years later and we have two beautiful, healthy children, Eliana and Theo who are ten months apart. Yup! Once we made the decision we dove right in!
So back to the question, can we have it all?
Paulette Light from The Atlantic shares her experience as a career woman who chose full-time motherhood.
“I was missing out on key moments in my daughter’s life and I was an exhausted, nervous wreck. It would be an easy story to say that my consulting firm pushed me out—but it was the opposite.”
After having a second child, she felt it was time to stay at home. “Leaving the workforce was not easy for me…I wasn’t willing to compromise on the life that I wanted, though I knew that it would delay my re-entry into the workforce even longer and solidify my role as “mom” for the long haul.”
According to the New York Times, in surveys of Americans and Europeans, people tend to say that women should work part-time or not at all when they have children at home and that men should earn money to support their families. But what if this means feeling you’re missing out on a piece of you that truly feels fulfilled?
If you’re doing well in your career and making really good money, most of the time you are not with your children throughout the day.
For some, this can cause feelings of guilt and the feeling they are missing out on big things. Your mind may drift to fantasies of spontaneously being rich, having your dream job and raising your children all at the same time.
For most, this is not reality. For those of you who feel you are forced to choose motherhood and a career and feel sad and trapped by this thought, consider why you are doing it. Is it because you need the money for your family?
Are you the primary breadwinner? Do you feel your career makes you feel accomplished and you’re not willing to give it up? Do you fear it would be too hard to climb the ladder after missing so much time?
All of these reasons may be legitimate. If you have made the decision to work full time and you have children, please try to remind yourself, this may not always be an easy decision and you are doing it for them.
The older they get they will understand you need this. What’s more is that they will have someone they can aspire to be like, a hardworking career woman.
If you’ve decided to have a career and motherhood and you do not regret this, good for you! You are a woman who is happy with her career. Your children are likely being cared for by someone who loves kids and has chosen to devote their time to lift the weight off of your shoulders.
STAY AT HOME MOM’S
For those that decide not to work, good for you for having that option! Many people cannot afford this luxury. Also, you are not working any less hard.
Raising children is an intense, exhausting job! Let me say that again in case you didn’t hear me, raising children is an intense, exhausting job!
But, so magical and rewarding! You made a choice that suits you and your family and you can allow yourself to feel proud of this. Cherish every moment.
CAN WORKING WOMEN BE A GOOD MOTHER?
My mother left her full-time job by the time she had her second child (out of four).
She returned to the workforce when we were all close to or already young adults.
She had to acquire a new job with new skills, with a new ladder to climb. But, being a stay at home mother all of those years was a decision she never regretted. Thinking back, it was very comforting to come home to my mother after school.
There was always a warm, delicious meal and the comfort of knowing I had a parent who would do anything for me waiting at home.
This also meant, on the other hand, that my father had to work full time to support the family during our adolescence.
STAY AT HOME FATHER’S
Fast forward to the present, and there are plenty of men, now more than ever, who are opting in to be the stay at home parent.
According to a Zillow analysis of U.S. Census data, the share of stay-at-home parents who are fathers has been steadily increasing since 2007, reaching an all-time high of 20.2 percent in 2017.
Though Stay-at-home moms outnumber stay-at-home dads by almost four-to-one, we live in an exciting time where both men and women are recognizing and embracing their role in ≥.
Women have more opportunities than ever. This can be a freeing choice for a man, as he is not as castrated for being a stay at home parent as men were in the past.
However, a record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share was just 11% in 1960. Progress!
Personally, I am not giving my all to my career. I’m not necessarily “climbing any ladders.” When my children take a nap, I work. Sometimes when they are occupied, I work. It can sometimes feel like a hectic juggling act.
But for me, being able to work part-time and feeling I can give my children my all most of the day is a luxury and a blessing I’m thankful for every single day. Since having children, I taught a psychology course at a business school, something I never envisioned doing. I also started a blog!
Trading in my dress pants for yoga pants is one of the best decisions I have ever made!
Whatever path you choose, career or motherhood, maybe you can’t have it all.
Maybe you do have the difficult decision of choosing to devote more time to your career or your child. This can be a decision you make and choose to stand behind.
Remember, it is not the amount of time you are spending with your child that matters, it is the quality of the time you spend with them.
If you feel deep down in your gut that you made the wrong decision. Try to reevaluate a new plan. Life is way too short to have such a big regret, especially when it comes to matters that are so important.
Good luck mamas. This isn’t an easy decision!
What have you decided as a mother? Career or not to career with children? How do you feel about this decision?