“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving…we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it… but we must not drift nor lie at anchor.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Today women make up almost forty percent of full-time workers in management but the median wages are only seventy-three percent of what their male counterparts earn. Only four percent of C.E.O.’s in Fortune’s top one thousand companies are women.
In the twenty-two to thirty years old in metropolitan areas, childless females earn less than males in every category with the same educational background.
Once married only twenty percent of wives earn half or more of the family income.
Once they have children women fall well below their husbands in earnings because they cut back their time or take off for periods of time.
So, what does all of this mean for those ladies who want to work and have children?
The pulls are there. The maternal instinct does not disappear and the drive to be a success using your education and talent does not evaporate.
Can you combine the two with some degree of comfort? Maybe.
It is interesting to see who has done it and how it worked out. Are there special qualities or circumstances that help?
The ability to nurture and love an infant and young child is pretty much inborn. Giving that up and leaving to pursue a career is hard. I have witnessed young children screaming, “Mommy,” as a mother went off to her job.
What they don’t see is that most of these children adapt rather quickly to a caretaker who is kind and loving, or a father, who remains with them. The screaming does not last.
That takes a lot for a mother… to walk away hearing her child scream for her.
The image stays however and the guilt that it produces is not easily overcome. But it can be put aside.
Now at the workplace there is another scenario.
This one is fraught with hazardous situations.
There is the need to be in control, perhaps have a superior position over others, requiring other skills, and the good parts of adult relationships; intellectual, challenging, rewarding, or sometimes leading to romantic entanglements.
The changes today in the role of father are dramatic. While many fathers are helpful in a variety of ways they do not do the full time job the way a mother does. Yes, they can help and women can go off to work knowing the child is in good and loving hands, but father is not a mother.
Watch a father when he is alone with a young child. The attention is not totally on that child as it usually is with the mother. His reactions to a fall or a problem are definitely different and less coddling than the mother’s. That is not to say it is a major problem, just that it is different.
Now the bottom line.
Having worked with families all of my professional life and knowing so many people socially over the years, the histories may be very different BUT most children will turn out the way they are whether or not they had a working mother. That should be reassuring to all you working mothers.
What children need is a sense of being loved, protected, and given opportunity to develop their talents, and interests, and that is doable with mothers who work.
What I especially like to emphasize is that the working mother using her education and drive comes home and sets a better example of a well- rounded worldly person who is not boring or shallow.
Now it is also true that a working mother may come home fatigued, annoyed at problems encountered at the workplace, or full of herself from accomplishments or appreciation from work, but given it all I believe she comes home a more satisfied person in the end and that means positive reaction to both her mate and children.
There are probably more unhappy, screwed up kids from intact families or non- working mother families than anywhere else!!!
“It is not what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.” – Jean-Baptiste Moliere