“You can have it all”
That’s what the modern woman is told. She can choose to be a boss babe, kick ass mother and still have time to go out with her friends to have all the fun life offers.
It’s for this reason I think modern women have it harder than modern men in some respects.
As men we mostly do better when we have a focus, something to work towards or for. We enjoy having a role and working within the responsibilities of that role. The role for a man is well understood, there’s little debate on that.
Whether we like it or not, a man’s duty is simple; to be a good man, a man that is respected, a good husband and good father he only has to do one thing well and that’s to provide. He isn’t expected to balance career ambitions with being a home carer, and at the same time pursue personal fulfilment. Men are expected to go out and work, and if we don’t have time to spend with the family, it’s seen as a sacrifice we make for the good of said family. A sacrifice that should be commended.
Yet if a woman chooses to focus on her career and as a result doesn’t have kids, she will almost be viewed as failing as a woman. On the other hand, if she chooses to stay at home, be a housewife and mother, she is perceived as a door mat that’s wasting her life by not pursing higher ideals.
This is a well-known conundrum and one that leaves many women feeling like failures. Therefore, instead of women accepting that reality and understanding the requirement in life to make sacrifices for whatever you deem to be their most important aspiration, women have instead taken to telling each other they can have it all, if they want. Women are told they can have the great career, be an excellent mother and wife. When in truth, it’s extremely difficult to achieve and balance all three without outside help and money.
For example, my mother was able to have four kids, the first three were all one year apart because growing up in Nigeria, she had free childcare from my grandmother and a close community. In addition, wealthier women can afford to spend more on nannies, surrogacy and IVF to avoid any interruptions to their career progression. This is something a vast majority of women cannot afford.
Time is something that we can never accumulate, no matter how successful or good a person we are, time will always count down for us. Time is also the currency we need to do anything, it requires time to be a great wife, mother and to progress to the highest level at any career. So, if a woman is to reach the top in any of those categories, naturally something must give.
But consider this, do we put the same judgment on men? Have you ever heard anyone tell a man he can have it all? The money, time with his family and time to pursue personal hobbies all at once.
If a man is financially successful or works a really demanding job that involves spending hours at the workplace, we just naturally assume that means he has given up time spent with the family. And we are fine with this, we don’t look down on him for doing so, in fact we expect it. We understand that if he was to be that successful, there’s a likelihood that he has a partner or has paid for help to ensure his home and family are well looked after. There’s a reason the saying ‘behind every successful man is a great woman’ is universally understood.
Men have it easier in this respect, society expects us to go out and make money, work and provide. Even the women we hope to marry and start families with expect this of us. This is great for men, it keeps us focused, we don’t need to worry about whether we are being great dads if we work too many hours, because as long as we are successful and sacrifice a couple of hours a week to spend with the family, we are lauded for fulfilling our role.
Modern women need to be honest with each other, if they want to be like men, then it will mean sacrificing time with kids. Perhaps hire a nanny, send the kids off to boarding school and use the freed-up time they have to focus on progressing their careers. If that’s what ultimately makes them happy.
Men are lucky in the sense that they have a role that’s understood and expected. Modern women have the pressure of being expected to do it all, this leads many of them living up to standards they can’t fulfil and others unsure about which path to take in order to be seen as good women in society.
Women and men for that matter just need to focus on what makes them happy, what their priority is in life. Both need to understand that whatever route they take will require sacrifice. The truth is women can’t have it all, no one can.