What ex­actly does ‘hav­ing it all’ mean?

Bray People - - OPINION - with Deb­o­rah Cole­man

THE age old de­bate reared its head this week on whether work­ing moth­ers re­ally can ‘ have it all’.

As a rel­a­tive new­comer to the species all I can do is scoff at the sheer pa­tro­n­is­ing un­der­tones to even the ques­tion it­self.

Women who have chil­dren and who also work seem to al­ways be the sub­ject of the same crit­i­cism - that they are ‘not giv­ing 100 per cent’ to any as­pect of their lives.

No­body in any walk of life wants to feel this way, and at times when that work/ life bal­ance is tip­ping too heav­ily in one di­rec­tion of an­other it is sup­port, rather than crit­i­cism is needed.

This ques­tion about hav­ing it all is never once asked in re­la­tion to a work­ing fa­ther and yet - to­day’s dads are more hands on that any gen­er­a­tion be­fore them.

Yes the mother is the one who car­ries the child and who gives birth but once that baby ar­rives nei­ther par­ent can af­ford to sit back.

Rather than de­grad­ing moth­ers who work and bring up chil­dren wouldn’t it be a nice idea if the Gov­ern­ment ac­tu­ally did some­thing con­struc­tive to help us in our quest to raise our chil­dren - who by the way won’t be in nap­pies and child­care their whole lives, but will be val­ued and con­tribut­ing mem­bers of so­ci­ety.

Why is it that work­ing mums have to con­stantly de­fend our­selves to the crit­i­cism that comes from try­ing to meet all re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to the best of our abil­ity?

If we send our kids to child­care then we are called self­ish and ca­reer hun­gry, re­gard­less of our rea­sons - fi­nan­cial or oth­er­wise.

If we try and de­vote more time to our chil­dren then we run the risk of look­ing work-shy.

Women who de­cide to have chil­dren and work are not ‘rid­ing the sys­tem’ as some have claimed.

Re­ceiv­ing ma­ter­nity ben­e­fit is not some sort of lot­tery bonus but is an en­ti­tle­ment con­sid­er­ing all the taxes we pay dur­ing our work­ing lives.

No par­ent should be pun­ished or be­lit­tled for want­ing to have a fam­ily and con­tinue work­ing. Do those naysay­ers ex­pect ev­ery work­ing mother (and fa­ther) to give up their jobs and go on the dole once they have a child?

What is needed is an end to this sort of judge­ment which re­ally serves no pur­pose at all but to make those who might in strug­gling feel even worse.


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