An Obnoxious Girl
You know that girl with a smug smile on her face, rushing into the office with a steaming hot coffee in her hand, ready to conquer the day?
You know that girl who passes you by with a Blackberry in one hand, papers in the other; the one who dismissively looks at you every time you tell her that you are leaving for your son’s PTA meeting or your daughter’s ballet class?
You know that girl who has no empathy, not a hint of understanding, when you say that you need to miss an important social work event because you have to help your kids with their homework after dinner?
I used to be that girl. I used to tune out women who had children and who always chose their family over career. I could not understand why juggling a career and motherhood was so difficult. I was annoyed when being a parent always won over being ambitious and competitive.
How could those women voluntarily choose to miss a pivotal discussion, a power meeting and rush home to be with their children? Could they not somehow find a compromise? Could not these women have it all: a family, a career, a life?
I was living in what I call an airbrushed reality.
The Real World
Years and years later, when I moved up the career ladder, when I lost some naiveté and idealism, I finally realized that no, women cannot have it all when it comes to career and motherhood. Somethings always gotta give. Usually it is the career. Sometimes it is motherhood.
I never wanted to be a parent. I chose not to have children for a variety of reasons that I am not going to cover in this post. One of the reasons, however, was my desire to build a career, travel the world, and not make any concessions that having children would definitely force me to do.
Was it a selfish decision? Perhaps, it was selfish in your eyes. From my perspective, it was a rational decision based on reality: women can balance a career and family only if they have total control over their schedules.
I don’t believe that there is a work-life balance when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder. If a woman chooses a professional career, she has to either sacrifice time with her family and rely on a round-the-clock nanny, or she ends up giving up on that corporate ladder. It is almost impossible to have professional success with a balanced family life.
Is There Really a Choice?
How does a single mother, raising two kids, make a choice between staying at home with her children or working full-time? She simply does not have a choice. She has to work.
What about those women who are struggling to find any kind of work? What choices do they have? Or those who are supporting their unemployed husbands? Do these woman even worry about having it all? I think they worry desperately about clinging on to what they already have.
Whoever tells you that women can have it all, is either a politician, or an idealist living in the utopian reality. Women cannot simply have it all.
Women with children are being pulled down from the corporate ladder by the very simple, tedious and daily family problems such as school schedules, math problems, doctor’s visits, PTA meetings. The corporate world does not accommodate to the one who is trying to balance a family with rigid work deadlines, raising children and power meetings.
I don’t consider my decision to not have children as a sacrifice in the name of my career. I consider it a choice. At least, I was lucky enough that I could make one.
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