Are we Wonder Women? Can you have it all?
There’s a constant pressure on all women, in all walks of life. The idea that we can have it all – the career, the children, the perfect husband and the perfect home is a constant which keeps coming back to haunt us in the media and even from friends and family. Some people may even suggest that choosing to become a WAHM is an easy option. Opting to be a self-employed mum in the 21st century means you can stay at home and play with your children whilst occasionally doing a bit of work right? Wrong.
Having it all is a balancing act and there is absolutely no way that every element can be perfectly balanced. Attending a work meeting and ducking out early to pump milk or head home for your children’s bed time is part of life now and it may not seem like ‘it all’ but what did you expect? Wonder woman doesn’t exist, the dream of having it all isn’t manageable if you want to survive something generally has to give. Let’s take a look at the archaic standards behind the wonder woman myth and denounce them one by one.
Marriage is no longer the be all and end all of modern family life. Of course not all self-employed mums are married or even in a relationship. It’s almost horrifying to think that as recently as 1960 women needed their husband’s signature to open a credit card and it took marriage to achieve respectability and freedom.
Marriage is no longer everything and whilst it’s no longer a necessity we have come to expect more from it. We expect more from husbands than previous generations. Many of the expectations we set up are at odds – we want to be the perfect homemaking wife but we also expect our husbands to do their bit. Expecting every element of a marriage or a relationship to function perfectly is just one facet of the wonder woman myth.
Everybody wants to be the best mother they can be. Choosing to have a child naturally is in part a biological display of your fertility as much as the desire to start a family, even on a subconscious level. Even before children are born there are thousands of questions to be answered, methods to consider and even books to read. Balancing the idyll of motherhood with reality is something which leads many women to disappointment when in fact all your child or children wants is you being you. Motherhood means making concessions and accepting that you may have to let somebody down every now and again as much as tending to their every need and ensuring a tear never escapes their eye!
For centuries society dictated that as well as being the perfect wife women should also achieve perfection in the home. Housekeeping standards are something we simply cannot let drop, even if we are working and battling with children. Or can we? Does the tidiness of your home impact on your happiness? Will something terrible happen if you leave the ironing for another day? Modern living is all about balancing, as has been said repeatedly in this article, and therefore sometimes the house can wait. Statistics suggest that our housekeeping standards are far improved on previous generations so perhaps we should be proud of how far we’ve come.
Choosing to work post-motherhood is something that is always questioned. Should you do it? Can you do it? Of course you can. Thousands do and thousands more enjoy doing so. There is no reason your expectations have to be dampened by motherhood and although you may have to push a bit harder, unfortunately a consequence of maternity leave (if you have it) and the general standard of inequality in the working world. Becoming a WAHM is an attractive option to many as it does allow more flexibility but hard work is still key element of succeeding, even if you are juggling children whilst trying to work. No one can achieve everything all at once, except Wonder Woman, and she’s simply a figment of the imagination of her creator – William Moulton Marston.
Smile and Nod
All of these elements are supposed to be balanced and create the perfect woman. Not only that, they’re supposed to be carried out with a permanent smile, without a care in the world and definitely no moaning. Appearing care-free at the school gates and comfortable in the kitchen are all parts of the ‘have it all’ myth. With all these different things going on you’re bound to worry and that’s natural – it shouldn’t be something you’re ashamed of.
Working at home, looking after children and running a household is hard work and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that. If you don’t manage to have tea on the table, all the clothes washed and smiling angels for children then don’t despair. That’s normality and it’s fine!
Much of the inspiration for this article comes from Debora L. Spar’s new(ish) book Wonder Women