A while ago I was browsing Instagram (sure, I could have been using my time more wisely) when I came across this quote by Annabel Crabb:
The obligation for working mothers is a very precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job.
Not since the very first time I read the now cliché ‘Sing, Laugh, Dance’ quote did a phrase resonate so strongly with me. This sums up EXACTLY how I feel as a working mum. I love my life (most of the time), I love being a mum (most of the time), and I love my job (yip, most of the time) but I do feel torn between my responsibilities. Which often leads to this frantic, superwoman style mania like I can prove I am succeeding at everything if I just do more, faster, better, NOW! There are two things to note though:
- I have an amazing family. My husband, our parents, our extended family – everyone wholeheartedly supports our decision to have two working parents in our family. I have never had criticism from anyone to be honest. Not family, not friends or even strangers.
- My employer is incredibly flexible with a wonderful, family-focused culture. Working from home, changing my hours, bringing my little man in to the office – all totally acceptable.
So with those two points in mind, why, oh why, do I feel the pressure I feel? I recently read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I love so much of what Sheryl stands for: gender equality, empowering women as leaders rather than being seen as simply ‘bossy’, men and women taking equal share in raising a family – I could go on and on. What I don’t agree with are some of the statistics, such as the claim that 50% of Fortune 500 CEOs should be women. The way I see it is women give birth. Biologically, it’s the only option. Women are physically connected to their child for, give or take, 9 months. We instinctively feel the need to protect that child from the time that we are aware of its existence. This is key to the survival of the human race. And these maternal instincts mean that some women simply don’t want to leave their baby to continue their careers. Of course, there are many who do and, unfortunately, many who don’t have a choice. But until 50% of the men are having the babies, I don’t see this being a truly even split.
In our household I like to think that the parenting is shared 50/50 but the reality is I will always take the lead in certain areas: soothing the little man when he’s unwell, Plunket/doctor visits etc. Just like Mr. Mac will take the lead in other areas of our family life: repairs around the home, heavy lifting etc. It’s not that either of us are incapable – we are just naturally more inclined/better at certain things. And that right there is part of the beauty of having a partnership with the person you love.
I think it’s time I embrace one of Sheryl’s favourite mottos: “done is better than perfect”. Let go of unattainable standards, stop aiming for perfection and get on with enjoying the good stuff x
I would love to hear your thoughts on being a working, stay-at-home, work-at-home or don’t-want-a-stupid-label mum (or dad). Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook.