20 years ago, Valerie Grove wrote the book, The Compleat Woman: Marriage, Motherhood Career - Can She Have It All. It considered the (at that time) relatively rare idea that some women will have a number of children, want to maintain a good, long marriage and continue to develop a career. Until then, this aim was mainly the preserve of well educated, privileged women. Now, the idea is a lot more widespread, at least in the UK, Canada and Australia - women in the US (see post on maternal profiling) don't seem to be getting the same kind of choices.
The Guardian covers the story in some detail and discusses the circumstances and experiences of those women 'having it all' right now.
One woman described herself as 'a mother who worked, rather than a career woman who happened to have children'. Which I thought accurately summed up how I feel about working.
They aren't off loading their childcare responsibilities lightly either - 'Someone has got to spend time with your children: if it isn't you, who is it going to be? Whatever your answer, you have to take a course of action that leaves you feeling that you can somehow face yourself'.
But this is where I also feel uneasy:
1. I'm uncomfortable that anyone should just 'face themselves' about their work/childcare arrangements. We should be positively happy that when our children aren't with us, they are still being cared for in a fun and loving environment.
2. Only one of the fathers in the article took care of the children - all the others hired nannies/sitters etc. Planning childcare shouldn't just be mum's decision - potentially leaving her feeling both guilty and responsible for the choices made. If both parents are going to work, why don't both parents plan childcare?
So far I have been very happy with our childcare arrangements, despite a photo of L'il Lovely giving her childminder a huge kiss and cuddle (beware the green-eyed monster). I even managed to 'expect' Love-of-my-life to take L'il Lovely to and from her childminder one day a week, but he played golf while I chose her 'minder - I tried involving him, but short of locking his golf bags up... what's a gal to do but make her mind up.
But you know what, while I'm willingly happy to see that L'il Lovely has a great time with her minder, I should also have postponed childminder interviews until her dad was prepared to be there too. Instead I found it too hard to give up that opportunity to control the decision. Perhaps that desire to control is what holds some of us back from improving our choices.
Where once women didn't work outside of the home at all, we now expect to have more choice - certainly we resent it if we don't have the choice at all. If we (so many mothers - I'm sure we can't all agree) want more happiness and choice for ourselves and our families it could mean letting go of the reins so that we can share responsibility properly... eek.