Why Can’t Women Have It All? I read with interest yesterday’s Telegraph article where new Dragon’s Den member Hilary Devey remarks,”girls can not have it all – it is how God breeds us.” This is actually something I’ve been pondering a lot lately. I was born in the 60s, grew up in the 70s and have never questioned the premise that women can have everything.
The feminist movement, socialist politics and overall optimism of these eras really did inspire women to see their lives as full of boundless possibilities, which to an extent they had been. I attended a large comprehensive women school in central London where despite being a single sex college, just about all subjects were available to examine. Suddenly the possibility of university education for working class women was a fact and no longer was the possibility of a House spouse’s life considered the standard. However, now in my late 40’s I sadly have to admit that Hilary may be proper. Having worked full time all my adult life, been in a long term relationship and with kids I now realise I haven’t managed to climb to the peaks that I anticipated I would.
When it comes down to it, the ultimate responsibility for childcare rests with me and quite frankly that feels right. I never had any ambition to be a profession mum and certainly do not consider myself to be a helicopter mum but childcare is always the first consideration both in terms of how I juggle my time, the employment I take along with the wages I take. My parents both worked full time and I remember mother working all day in 1 mill, rushing home to give us kids and Dad our tea, then hurrying off to work in a different mill at night. She did all of the shopping, housework, everything. I recall being sick and mum taking me to school and telling me to not tell anyone I felt sick because she had to work. That’s how it was then and I’m sure mum never believed she had it all – she was too busy and knackered to stop and think of anything like this.
I am a lot more fortunate than she was in several ways and can not say my life has anything like the slog hers had, but it’s very difficult trying to continue working because I like it and attaining anything like what I could have if I did not have to spread myself around so much. Of course it is easier (logistically) for girls that are in high paid jobs because they can afford the Nanny, Cleaner, Personal Assistant but is it really about that ? I can recall being sent to school holiday clubs since mom worked and absolutely hating it, being envious of friends whose mum’s did not work and were together during school vacations.
I remember school buddies who used to go home for lunch because mom was there to cook for them and sometimes I’d go together – it was wonderful. That’s why I really want to be with my kids during school holidays, after school, when they are ill. Actually I love being with my kids and feel that they are my best achievement. I don’t know if Hilary is right in believing that mommy’s feel this way because it is how God breeds us.
For myself it could be my own childhood experiences or it may be genetics but I guess it can be a combo of both. Certainly I feel at age 48 I’m heading for burn out in trying to attain it all and rather disappointed that it seems to be impossible but I’d still encourage young girls to try.