“It takes a village to raise a family,” Hillary Clinton.
Those words will never resonate so true until you have a baby and realize that multi-tasking (a skill many women are renowned for excelling in) is taken to a whole new level and the ability to rely on others is essential for securing and maintaining one’s sanity.
Girls are made to believe they can “have it all.” They are taught strength as well as compassion. Independence as well as intimacy. Work ethic as well as family values. Young women strive for success and are told that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up.
But then young ladies grow up and realize that it isn’t that simple.
Unfortunately every day women are made to feel that they must choose between their career and their children. While everyone recognizes that women who are over 35 years old are termed “higher risk pregnancies,” many careers require that women seek tenure in their early thirties, exactly when their clocks are starting to tick, while medical students are just finishing their residences, lawyers are putting in their 14-16 hours per day at the firm, and corporate execs are working their way up the prominent logistical ladder. Women struggle with the desire to further their career and reach their professional potential while still balancing this high powered pursuit with the yearning to settle down and start a family. Once these career driven women become moms, they are often torn with this dilemma…parent or professional. While the choice to be a stay at home mom vs. a working woman use to be a luxury decided only by women in a higher socioeconomic status, studies show that women across varying financial backgrounds are taking a more serious look at what works best for them and their family.
Unfortunately many women feel a pressure and stigma associated with both options–heading back to the office or raising a family from home. The dichotomy in the decision plagues many women. Those who choose to go back to work feel that they are missing precious moments with their little ones, while stay at home moms often feel like they are wasting a lifetime of education and professional pursuits. It is unfortunate that societal pressures and forced “norms” have caused many moms to battle with these decisions, because in reality, there is no wrong choice.
While the choices you make are personal and should not be source of public polling, it is challenging not to let other’s opinions influence or affect your own decisions and feelings about them. The good news is that now-a-days families do have numerous options. Whether you stay at home, go to work, decide on a doula, explore a day care or navigate through the nanny search, all you have are options.
Raising a child is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences. Quite often what women long for more than unsolicited suggestions is support. So try to replace judgement and critism, with empathy and understanding. Be mindful that what is best for you and your family may not be what works for everyone, and that asking for help is not claiming defeat.
And do not worry, society will slowly but surely start to surrender its snarky side comments and allow you to make decisions based on what is best for your baby.