The expectations of women have changed radically over the past 100 years, but for many women being a mother is just as important today as it was a century ago. I recall having a conversation with my grandma when I was in my twenties. We had been sitting in her living room; me on her white, white, and blue flowered sofa and she in her green classic chair.
She was probing me about what my career choice was going to be; she desired me to pursue a business career, as she’d done. My grandmother was a successful businesswoman who didn’t have her first child until she was 35 (something unheard of in the 1940s) and that continued to work fulltime afterwards. She asked me if I wanted to have kids. I described a perfect mix of career and motherhood where I’d work part-time and devote the remainder of my time to raising my kids. To my surprise she told me about what a bad mother I’d be if I decided to do the job.
Looking back in this conversation, I can’t help but wonder if her attitude toward me was a manifestation of her own life and her regrets for choosing career over motherhood. Her son, my biological father, wasn’t a fantastic father so I believe her disappointment that day was actually the guilt she felt about her decisions in balancing family and work as well as the effect it had on her son. In the long run, I pursued my career.
What to do?
From college I joined one of those big public accounting firms. At 28, I married and was focused on developing a family than I was about climbing the career ladder. After three decades of marriage, my workforce was replaced by my desire to be a mother, and my husband, Dave, and I embarked on the journey of attempting to become pregnant. I was amazed to find that my interest in my career waned the longer my husband and I fought to make a family. At exactly the exact same time, I was worried that after I became a mother I’d be overly focused on my career and become the bad mother my grandma called.
A friend of mine, who’s a business trainer, used his abilities to help me gain comfort that I’d make the best choice for me and my hoped-for kids. My twin brothers almost four years old. I’ve made a conscious choice to work less than fulltime so I can take an active role in raising my children.
Many of my friends are stay-at-home mothers while some have chosen to or have to work. The balance of career and family can be a delicate one. I for one know that I am a better mother when I’m with my girls because I continue to experience the challenges and growth which could only be seen in the company environment. Each girl should strive to discover the balance that’s suitable for her.