A wise person recently said to me…. You can have everything but not at the same time. This may be especially relevant for modern mums who are under increasing pressure. Should they stay at home or return to work? If they return to work should it be to a demanding role or a small part time role that fits in with the family? What is best for the baby, the family and themselves? A recent article in the Sunday Age quoted a 2010 Spanish Journal of Psychology, which in a survey found on average, woman tend to feel guilt more intensely than men. In every age group, female participants were more likely to feel distressed when faced with interpersonal situations that trigger moral dilemmas. Perhaps this helps us understand why it is easier for new Dads to not feel bad when they have to return to work. Or perhaps woman are socialized far more heavily from an early age to take care of and nurture relationships.
Yet why else do mums seem busier and more conflicted than ever before? A 2006 report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows women who work outside the home haven’t given up their household responsibilities. Women still manage two thirds of all household chores. So if you are a working mum (this means all mums wether it is inside or outside the home) then the pressure to keep up with everything could easily trigger guilt. Also as Andie Fox a blogger (bluemilk.wordpress.com) says “in our culture there is this pressure that if our children aren’t high achievers in every area, they won’t make it in the global economy.”
So women are supposed to be tireless and dedicated and conform to some notion of being a super mum, in order to foster these high achievers. It is very hard in our culture for women to appreciate the demands of the mothering role and recognize that like any other role with large responsibilities attached, failure is related to the complexity of the work. However, at the end of the day, children need to feel loved by both their parents and most mums ultimately try to do what is best for them in a myriad of ways. There is no one way of mothering that is the right way, each mum must find out what she can and cannot offer as an individual to support her unique child. We need to get behind mums more and support them in the important trade offs they have to make in order to be “good enough” mums, in a society that is stressful, chaotic and fast paced. Maybe its true….we can’t have everything at the same time, but maybe we can have enough and do enough to help raise happy and healthy children.
“The Age” March 5, 2012. Isolation the bane of modern motherhood.
“The Sunday Age”March 11, 2012. Separation Anxiety.
Self and Systems Vol 1159. Vanderheide. S. & Coburn. W. Vol 1159.Boston 2009.