Career Mum or Career Woman? Let’s just let each other get on!

“Do you work outside the home?” This is my ultra-politically-correct way of enquiring how a woman I have just met spends her days. I don’t want to say the word ‘just’ when enquiring as to whether she is a full-time mum. I don’t want to assume that she’s dropping the kids off elsewhere in the morning and stressing to get to the office for 8.45am. I don’t want her to feel any need for self-justification as she describes her daily juggle. So I have devised my little question, endeavouring to imply my respect for whatever approach to life-management you have adopted.

Now we ladies, we do like to dissect each others lives. We can’t quite help ourselves having a little something to say about our this or that woman we know who’s choices are just so polar-opposite to our own. Occasionally, having our little say equates to being a bit, well, bitchy. I’m not immune. I feel The Bitch Within me rise from time to time, usually when I am visiting a very average day nursery, (there are, unfortunately, a few) wondering why all these mums think this is a good place to leave their little ones for 40+ hours a week. And – pausing to adopt a feminist stance for a moment – if I spend time wondering how all this bitching looks to those upholding the patriarchy, I conclude that the view isn’t good. It looks like a waste of time. Time, that thing we women claim we don’t have enough of.

We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour. I heard that somewhere and have repeated it often. If we judged others by their intentions, I think women would see each other pretty differently. Every woman I know has, in relation to their mothering-working-other ‘balance’,  gone through a million permutations, agonised over every aspect, and wrestled with guilt on a daily basis. We know this about our fellow mums, because we know we do it/did it ourselves. And when our kids are grown, they will be each other’s friends, partners, colleagues, wives, husbands. And they’ll talk about what they learnt from us, won’t they? I’m guessing that none of us would want them repeating our unnecessary prejudices, that are ultimately borne out of us not taking the time to truly understand another’s perspective.

So, if you’re mulling over another’s choices to help you make sure you’re getting yours right, fine. Sometimes we need that comparator, that juxtaposition, to see our own circumstance more clearly. But, if you’re doing it to vent a little, to breathe a little ill-will out into the collective air, don’t. If you’re speaking without thinking, why not try to work on remembering what it’s like to be on the receiving end. In short, let’s just let each other get on! Life is hard enough, as the saying goes…. As of now, I am resolving to focus on seeing the women around me as they are, and to retrain my thoughts to let go of labels and their implied baggage. I don’t mind sharing my decision making process with other women, but I don’t really want to feel I’m explaining my decisions to other women. Nor do I want other women to feel the need to explain and justify theirs to me. If my decisions are working for my kids, my hubby, and me, I am satisfied. Or, to be more precise, ‘satisfaction’ is what I am currently working on.

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15 thoughts on “Career Mum or Career Woman? Let’s just let each other get on!

  1. The amount of mums I see now, I have learnt that when you don’t know someone, you have no idea what else that have going on in their lives or their families, and their circumstances are often what makes choices for them. And like you say, no-one should even feel they need to justify their arrangements with anyone else. Well said Leoarna! I will be borrowing your politically-correct enquiry line though if that’s ok! x

  2. Great thought provoking post. “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour.” I love this quote and will try and keep it in mind, it is right to remember that all us mummies just want the best for our children, whatever it is that we do on a daily basis. L x

    • Desperately trying to remember where I heard it – possibly Steven Covey, but really not sure. Anyway, a good principle for life, and does make so much sense as you say. Thanks for commenting Mich, L x

  3. Some great food for thought here. Sometimes though it’s difficult to judge others by their intentions – I mean, what is the intention behind one woman maliciously spreading falsehoods about another who is trying to make something of her life? Baffling (and an ongoing battle I am trying to get to grips with)

    • One someone points a finger they have three others on that hand pointing back at themselves. Malicious behaviour says so much more about the state of mindof the perpetrator than the victim. Doesn’t make it easier to tolerate, but does enable victim to see a chink od space between themselves and the behaviour.

      Glad you found the post thought provoking, and thanks for taking time to comment.

  4. As you know, I have a teenager with special needs… and wow, some of the shite that happens within our community is mind blowing (in a horrid way!). I try to remind myself of the following… “Never judge another parent for the road they choose for their child. It is not your journey!”.

    • Absolutely my point! From the outside, we can’t know what’s really going on on the inside… Thanks for stopping by again, it is so lovely to see that little SA flag on my stats page!

  5. I’ve recently been on the receiving end of this. I live in a small village and lost all the people I thought were friends when I sent my son to a different school outside the village. The local school just wasn’t right for my son, it wasn’t a comment on anyone else’s choices, but that was how it was taken. I’m a full time mum (not a stay at home mum, as I don’t stay at home) and I get really annoyed when I’m asked “what do you do” as I find myself at a loss to know what to say. I’m busy, busier than I’ve ever been, but it seems for some people, if I don’t work outside the home, I must spend my time sitting on the sofa with daytime TV and a bar of chocolate. Because what else could there possibly be to do, right? Great post.

  6. Glad that reading the post had you nodding your head in agreement. Ah, educational choices, a subject very dear to my heart. Good on you for doing the right thing by your little one. And as for what do you ‘do’, ultimately you do what every mother in history has done, but somehow these days that seems not to be enough. But in your case, and in my case, and every other decent mum you know, it IS enough. Thanks for the compliment and for stopping by again, L

  7. Pingback: Great Balancing Act « Balance and Grace

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