I recently had a play date with another Mum, and she asked me a funny question “with the second child are you starting to feel like yourself?” I didn’t understand the question, as who else would I feel like? Of course I feel like me? I am now a Mum and that has brought a welcoming new side to me, but the lover, friend, sister, daughter, independent girl in her own right and yogi also define me, it’s as if I just have another angle to my personality.
The very next day I received an email due to some help and support I was giving to her, and part of that email described how that person’s Mum had 7 children all naturally and did an amazing job in raising all 7. Then it hit me, the full content of what she said and how she described it, she was trying to live up to her Mum, and trying to be defined by the role model that she had. Role models are great but we all have our own path, and ultimately we need to be ourselves and live life on our terms. My Mum is also amazing, and I often say if I could be half the Mum she was I would do a great job. That said my Mum has always said to go off and live my own life. That has led me to living in different countries, being the first to go to university in our family and going on to study a doctorate, making a positive impact on people lives in a number of professional fields, as well as launching my own business.
So here are the reasons why we must live our own lives:
- Giving birth to a lot of children is great (7 I would even suggest deserves a medal), but nowadays we get married or meet our partners a lot later. In fact we are even lucky if we get to meet our partner! The cost of living has increased which makes larger families not fit with our timing, finances and childcare due to support structures avaiable and women making a difference in the workplace.
- Giving birth naturally is great, but as a mother who has had one C-section and one natural birth, just having your child out alive and safe is the blessing. Between 1990 and 2013, maternal mortality worldwide dropped by almost 50% (WHO Fact sheet N°348). Nowadays fewer women in the West die in childbirth and more children survive, so if you have to have a C-section this does not make you less of a mother.
- We live more global lives now; it can be highly likely that we are not anywhere near grandparents or a support structure. The total number of international migrants has risen from approximately 150 million in 2000 to 214 million today. Migrants represent roughly 3 percent of the world’s population; grouped into a single nation, it would be the world’s fifth-most-populous country (source AT Kearney 2010). This can make motherhood harder, because due to relocation we are away from family who sit on the other side of the country or even world.
- We fought for women to have an education, and as such women continue onto further education outnumbering men in the West. Women in developed regions such as the United States and Europe are likely, because of higher qualifications, to become the primary breadwinners within the next two to three decades. In 2009, women earned 58 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 60 percent of master’s degrees awarded by U.S. colleges, and 59 per- cent of degrees awarded in the European Union. In the 27-nation EU, in the 25-to-34 age group, 34 percent of women have university degrees compared to 26 percent of men. A clear trend has emerged of higher female achievement in education. This trend has meant that women are on a different timeframe as mothers in previous generations (source AT Kearney 2010). I am not saying it I better or worse just different. The phase of life at which we become mothers is no longer weighted in the 20s but our 30s. We have a different outlook on life, and different experiences.
- We fought for equal rights in the workplace; women have such intellectual power with the ability to make a difference across industries and job sectors. Women now make up 15 percent of directors of Fortune 500 companies, yet only 2 percent of Fortune 500 and 5 percent of FTSE 100 CEOs are female (source AT Kearney 2010). If women want to have the opportunity to continue in the workplace it makes us different to the motherhood of previous generations.
- Facts that will shape the Global Business Environment AT Kearny 2010
- WHO Factsheet N°348