Why You Should Quit Worrying About What Others Think About You As A Working Mother

I was speaking to a woman today who felt trapped by motherhood. She was doing what society expected of her as a ‘good mother’. Giving up her job to be a full-time mother to be fully available for her kids and yet, she was emotionally absent because she was pissed off and tired and felt invisible. Sadly, this is what certain parts of society see as the legitimate role of a mother and what should be applauded.


I am sure you have heard the saying: ‘What others think of you is none of your business. Yet how many of us are really and truly doing what we want? We are crippled by others’ expectations of us.


When it comes to motherhood, this takes on a whole new angle. There is a societal narrative of what mothers should be. We should be nurturing and communal so when you don’t find yourself fitting that mould, you feel wrong. At work, you run into the likeability bias if you are not being mumsy, and yet you can’t be mumsy and be seen as a leader who gets things done.


This societal expectation puts women in a bind of ‘damn if you do and damn if you don’t’. Why? Because the reality of being a working mother and trying to have it all is not a walk in the park. It is hardcore. It requires heroic strength and skills but unfortunately, a lot of women underestimate it and assume they can take it in their stride. Then before they know it, they are in burnout, feeling like a failure and thinking other women know something that they don’t.


Then there is the other side of the coin. The women who have cut their losses and actually given up their jobs to be full-time mothers. They are not exactly having a picnic, either. Their guilt is even worse because they mistakenly assumed that giving up their job was the answer. Then they realised that without the job they felt bored and something was missing. Guess who they were taking out their angst on? The very kids that they gave up their jobs to focus on. So now here they are, stuck at home and still not being a good mother and even more pissed off because they don’t have the excuse of the job.


The answer to the problem for mothers is not as simple as giving up a career. It is about working out what you want and getting the skills you need to support you to go after what you want. You don’t give up on your desire of owning a car because you don’t know how to drive a car, you go and learn how to drive and then it becomes a matter of what car you would like to have. It is the same when it comes to being a working mother. You can’t be haphazard about…


You can have happy and thriving children as a working mother but it doesn’t happen by accident, you have to have those heroic skills. Giving up your job and being a full-time mother doesn’t automatically make you a good mother. There are a lot of full-time mothers full of anger and resentment with their kids not wanting to be anywhere near them.


Research shows that girls whose mothers worked are more likely to work and have higher incomes as adults and boys are more likely to help around the house where their mother worked. For me, this says it all. We want our men to be helping around the house to take the pressure off the women and we want to close the gender pay gap. So why aren’t governments putting more in place to support working mothers?


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