I have a friend, a smart savvy professional woman. She is younger then me, 31, but she has made a decision that she doesn’t want children. My immediate reaction is omg – you’ll get over it, your biological clock will start to tick loudly and you’ll change your mind. Then I stopped and thought – what a huge amount of courage it takes to make that decision.
It actually isn’t selfish (another of my initial thoughts!). Her reasoning is that whatever she does she wants to do wholeheartedly. For her, her professional career is an extremely important part of her self. Having a child would require compromise on both being a professional and being a mother, she isn’t prepared to be half hearted at anything.
In todays society we are often damned if we do and damned if we don’t. There is so much pressure to be a mother and yet we are also expected to participate in the workforce. For many of us financially we have no other choice but to reenter the corporate world after children, often in male dominated careers where it is difficult to break into the boys club when you have to make sure you get to child care by 6pm and then spend the evening cooking, arbitrating, educating and soothing.
Honestly, the more I think about it the more I applaud her decision. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids but I know I’m not a perfect mother and they have had to make sacrifices for my career. Unfortunately for them they didn’t get a choice. Hopefully, regardless of my intense mother guilt, they won’t spend years in a therapist office talking through abandonment issues caused by having a selfish career orientated mum. Instead they will celebrate the fact that they had a strong, inspirational mother who pushed them to be self sufficient and showed that with a bit of determination you can achieve.
Yep the big Four O. Researchers from the University of Melbourne have just completed a study in conjunction with British researchers that seems to show that woman are the least happy in the first few years of their forties. It actually said their unhapiness peaks in their early forties.
As that is exactly where I am at the moment, as well as having a lot of friends at the same age or a bit past it, I’ve been pondering why this is.
I think the researchers are partially right that this sadness is due to family pressures, but I think it goes deeper than that.
I have noticed that many of my girlfriends end their marriages in their late thirties and early forties. This would obviously cause a lot of stress and unhappiness but they are ending their marriages because they are not happy in that situation anymore.
By forty, for many of us, our children are all at school and we may be reconsidering reentering the workforce or taking on more work outside the home. I think it is a time in a womans life when her outlook is changing. Our most fertile years are behind us and menopause is looming. I think it is a time when we feel least appreciated for all we do.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. It seems to be a time when we decide to do things for ourselves. When our children are young everything revolves around them and a s a mother your own wants and needs tend to be put on the backburner. By forty the load seems to lighten, children develop their own interests and start to become more capable. Although, I have to say parenting teenagers is hard work but that’s a blog for another day!
For me, this year brings a lot of changes. My eldest started uni (yes I was a child bride), the next one down is in his last year of high school, number three started high school leaving my baby in grade four. This December I will have been married twenty years.
I’m not unhappy at the moment but I wouldn’t say I’m content either. I am more determined to voice how I feel and what I want – this may cause unhappiness for the people around me but I do think it’s my turn in the spotlight.