Career or family. What would you choose? It’s a question asked of every woman in our modern world. Can we have it all? The current consensus seems to be a loud and resolute HELL NO. We can’t have it all. Something has to give. We have to compromise. If you don’t want to – too bad. You must. Haven’t you heard – that’s how the world works.
For some bizarre reason, no one seems to ask men to choose. Yes – they can have it all. But we women have to choose. One or the other. To the best of my knowledge, I won’t have an immaculate conception – so why should I be the only one choosing?
And for the men out there – when you choose career over family – you miss out. You’re not around for your kids. When you’ve finally retired and have some time on your hands, you may realise that your kids are strangers to you. That you weren’t around because you were busy bringing home the bacon. And now they’re not around cause they’re doing the same.
Charmaine Yam and I sit down for yet another Skype session about a topic that’s super close to both our hearts.
“A stay at home mum,” Charmaine says. “I think that there are advantages to it. You are guaranteed to have someone pick you up from school, take you to all your lessons and go to all your school events. It’s nice having someone there all the time dedicated to your care. It’s easy to take your mum for granted in that sense. You might undervalue them a bit. I probably undervalued her, myself.”
“Why do you think that is?” I ask.
“If you have a stay at home mum,” Charmaine says, “you take for granted that that’s their entire job – their life purpose. Whereas if you had a working mum, you’d know that they have a role somewhere else and being a mother is a facet of that. I think there are pros and cons. If your mum is a working mum that manages her time well then you’ll realise that you don’t need to have one role – you can be multifaceted. But if you have a working mum that puts you second, you might feel undervalued as a result.”
“So do we women either undervalue ourselves or our children?” I ask.
“It depends how well you prioritise things if you’re a working mum,” Charmaine says. “You don’t have to make your child feel second to your job. I personally thought that because I had a stay at home mum everyone took her for granted. I’m not saying every person is the same. Her priority was us and it was a good thing for our development.
“But if that person’s job is to raise kids then they can’t fail on that. You have to maintain a good relationship with your kids as well as do the practical things like organising the household as well as provide emotion support. If one of those things lapses, then that mum might not be ‘good enough’. It’s a hard gig.
“If you’re a working mum, you might be cut some slack. Not that it’s an excuse. But if your mum has a job you can see them as an individual as opposed to just your nurturer.”
“Do you think you turned out well because your mum? ” I ask.
“I have to say yes,” Charmaine admits. “I think my mum made me disciplined. But personally, I’d rather be a working mum. I don’t think being a working mum is detrimental to my kids. I don’t think people should judge that one is better than the other.
“I think that if your mum is working; and has her own job and group of friends, then you can see her as her own independent happy person outside of your family. It would be advantageous for your kids as well – to see their mum successful, prosperous and happy.”
“Looking into the future, what role can men play in raising kids?” I ask.
“If you have a working wife, you would have to share the load of spending time with the kids,” Charmaine says. “It doesn’t have to be 50/50. It could even be 70/30. But that would enable you to develop a different relationship with your children. It would be nice to bring out the nurturing side of fathers. Men are often not expected to because traditionally they all have wives to do that. If the wife is working, then they might be expected to.”
Sheryl Sandberg wrote that super famous book asking women to lean in at the workplace. Just about everyone I know has started doing that.
It’s also high time for men step up at home. Why has no man written a book on this topic? Guys – you are missing out BIG TIME if you’re not around for your kids. Talking about ‘father issues’ has become a big pop culture joke. People tend to laugh at the things that hurt the most.
Anyways – career or family. What would you choose? Personally, I wouldn’t choose either. I’d choose me.