Can women really have it all?
This is something I’ve mused upon for a long time and have several conversations with my girlfriends about. While women’s rights have come a long way, at least in most civilised society, there’s this discomfort that the world is still not an entirely fair ground for women.
Whether we like it or not we’d always have to compromise actually not compromise, because compromise means you’re given an alternative choice, the word is “sacrifice”, we still have to sacrifice some parts of our lives to have what we’re supposed to naturally want; a family (children).
While we’re brought up believing we can be whatever we want that we can compete in the race with the best of the best, however, there comes a time when one has to either slow down in the race or put the race on hold completely to be a “natural woman”, in that time, male colleagues or female colleagues who choose to remain in the race will carry on and no matter how hard one tries to catch up, the lost times will never be made up. This is not a scathing attack on male colleagues or female colleagues who remained in the race, after all it’s not their fault that you choose to be a “natural woman”, that is entirely your decision and should be happy to bear the consequences, it’s only fair. It’s also not an attack on why this is different for men and women, I mean even if the campaign is for equality between men and women in the race, only a woman is required to bow out of the race, for example, if a spouse offers to be the one who bows out of the race, he’s not equipped to feed an infant or to have that natural instinct needed for the tiny ones to survive those first few months so again, whether a woman likes it or not, she has to follow through on her decision.
Speaking to a colleague who was getting married, she was 30 at time, I asked her if they’ll be starting a family right away bearing in mind her age, she looked at me like I’ve just mentioned the most ridiculous thing, so I quickly thought maybe they didn’t want any children but she was kind enough to save me from myself seeing the panic look on my face as I felt that I’ve asked a question that I shouldn’t have. She explained that she has her eyes on a particular role in the department and she had a 5 year strategy to get to that role, afterwards, she will work in the role for 2 years, then she’ll start plans to have children, if she starts having children right after her marriage, she will miss this target completely, as she talked, I made quick calculations, this means she will be 37 years old before she plans to have children, let’s say she gets pregnant as soon as she’s ready, mind you, as women we’ve been told that the older we are, the less chance of getting pregnant easily, but let’s say she does get pregnant right away, she’ll have her first child at 38, my mind racing ahead, I thought when she’s 50, her child will be 12, 60, child will be 22, 70, child will 32, say the child goes the same route as mum, I concluded that my colleague may never meet her grandchildren, I mean the average life expectancy for women even in Europe is around 74. Even then, when she does decide to start a family, she will still have to bow out of the race in which time, others will catch up.
I remember meeting my great grandparents and I still have a living grandparent who is a great granny to mine and my sibling’s children. For some reason, this bothered me greatly that my generation of women may not have this privilege and goes to confirm that maybe we as women can’t have it all and we need to accept this very early on. Does that mean we should then not enter the race? Or do so with a different strategy, one that helps us to balance a home and work life effectively through acceptance that depending on our choices in life, in reality, expectations needs adjusting.
Having worked with many women who chose not to have a family, these women are definitely in the race with their male colleagues and holding down top posts, but what I’ve observed time after time is that despite their rise in position, these women never seemed satisfied, as one told me “there just always seems like something is missing”, some even envy those who have children down to some outright jealousy. Saying that I have met one or two who are genuinely content with not having children, (can I clarify that this does not make them unnatural,the choice to use the analogy about natural women wanting children is just to prove a point), in fact an ex-boss absolutely loathe children, she does all she can to keep away from them like going on holidays to places where she’d least have any encounter with them, I used to find it quite funny, mind you she is a good person and a very girly girl.
So what are we to do? Accept the sacrifice and be content? Refuse the sacrifice and run a risk of an unfulfilled life or regrets? Also if more and more women refuse to have children for the sake of their careers, do we run a risk of breeding ourselves out of existence? Humans I mean?, well that’s for another post. Have a great weekend y’all.