To take a decision: career/job/ambition versus family.
It is hard being a woman. Now I am going to rant a bit. Please forgive me
I had this conversation with a newly married friend. She was kinda asking for advice on what to do. It is a question/decision I have been quizzed about in the past. However, it always came from unmarried friends. Now someone who is in the “situation” is asking. I was going to give the usual answer I would give. And then it occurred to me:
- She sure has thought about all of that
- She really does know where it pinches so the usual answer won’t work
So we spent the rest of the conversation trying to weigh different options.
Now I grew up (as am sure most people did) with mothers who weren’t overtly ambitious. They believe(d) in a woman’s place being in the house and as such, well the plan wasn’t to make so much more or be the oga madam at work or something. Most women were content with having a job that allowed them time for their children.
Not so these days. We have women out early and back late at night. Boardroom warriors. On the road, on the move women. Now the big question. How do you juggle being the woman at home and not sacrificing your career/job/ambition. I know and I can tell stories of friends/aunties who took the no job, stay at home route. I also know of those who took maybe a pay cut, another job or took time out at some point and are back in the corporate world and gradually climbing the ladder at a time some might consider late (after all if they stayed on, they might have risen faster). I know of those who decided to run their own businesses just so they can have that additional time it affords to be with their family. I know of those whose husbands at some point had to ask them to leave their jobs and start a business/stay home when for weeks on end they don’t even see. I also know someone who confessed that at a point (in the being a career woman ish), she was “meeting” her husband at the airport in all sorts of countries – she arrives at a country to depart for another and her husband is doing same. She had to decide at that point what had to go.
A question my friend asked (which I have asked wella), how do you be the wife and mother and still be ambitious without the feeling that being the wife and mother has hindered your progress? Like I have plans. I know what and where I want to be in the next 5 – 10 years. I still wanna do my MBA (yes MSc aint enough). I know where I want to be position/grade wise. However, won’t being a wife and mother hinder that? For instance, I am doing my MBA, I have 2 kids and am working an 8am – 5pm job. How do you marry that? How do you cope?
I recall a conversation with some managers at work (guys) and one tells the others how women perform better at interviews and all. They all agreed during interviews, women did better than their male counterparts. Then one goes “but when they get in, within 2 years, they talk about getting married. Next comes, I am leaving the job – it is too stressful. Or I am relocating. Or they ask for time and time and more time away from the job”. He said that that point he begins to wish men did better. At least he won’t have the issues as above. Another who met his wife within the firm concurred. She had to leave the firm because it was getting stressful being a wife and a career woman. She left paid employment completely, had her kids, stayed a few more years (but attended courses and did exams) and is back working. However, she is getting delusional. Feels she had been out too long and isn’t getting the right job/position to match her qualifications and experience.
That is my (and my friend’s fear). I fear getting to the point where I am mad (at myself or someone else) because I feel I sacrificed job/career/ambition for my family. We can argue family comes first (in the scheme of things, I will choose my family over ambition/job/career) but especially for restless souls like me, for people who thirst and thrive working in the corporate world, who live for working in the organizations, what do you do? I would hate to be the woman grumbling and unhappy with where she is career wise in 10 years.
My friend talks about not having too much time to even cook during the week. When you constantly get home at 9pm/10pm. Once again we analyzed. Ok, what if you cook over the weekend. That leaves you with:
- Not eating fresh meals. Microwave and PHCN/Gen must always work/light must always dey
- Eating the same meals – rice, swallow or something. Or if you try to spice it up, you make boli in the oven and eat with the efo you made on Saturday right? So what happens to those recipes you saw on BBC Food, MasterChef, Come dine with me, Food Network e.t.c. You try them out on Saturday/Sunday abi. Let’s not forget you would spend Saturday/Sunday trying to prepare the meals for the next week
- Your children grow up eating the rice meals. Full carbs diet. Maybe learn to bake at some summer school. But never get to really practice what they have been taught
- And the cycle continues
Or do we add the lack of bonding time with the boo? You are back late, he is back late. You are tired, he is tired. You are trying to put something that won’t take time together so you can put your legs up and sleep. He is trying to even in his tired state, he wants to have sex. All you are thinking of is sleep. Ok sex during weekends right. No talking, no gisting, no gbeborun-ing and all. Then the children come. And you barely talk to each other (asides it is time to buy something, pay school fees, and other occasional small gist). Years after the children are off to school and it is just both of you. With nothing to talk/gist about.
We can argue that feminism has a lot to do with it. After all in the olden days, our mothers were content with staying at home and the men bringing the money. I am not a feminist and I still believe in a woman’s place being at home. However, I don’t think if I was born in the 1800s or so, I would have been content with sitting at home idle. I am restless like that.
It is a win-lose situation innit?