The predicament of women: children vs careers

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by Katherine Bell

All mothers want to provide the best for their children. Finding the perfect balance between providing care and providing financial resources can be very difficult. I’m sure every mother struggles with the same decision – whether to go to work, or be a stay-at-home parent. For my first child, I chose to stay home, which came with its own sets of difficulties. Having only one income did not allow us to have two vehicles, and living in a rural area meant having no way to leave home during the day, and no extra spending money to do the things we wanted on the weekend. Even things such as clothing, toys, and sports were a struggle.

I could not financially justify having another child until 12 years later, when I was back into the workforce. I chose a job that didn’t require much notice or hassle if I needed to call in for time off, so that I would be there for my children when they needed me. There were times when I seriously contemplated being a stay-at-home mom, but I did not want to rely on someone else to take care of me again, even though, at the time, I was envious of women who could stay home and focus solely on their children and see all of their developmental milestones, such as their first steps.

There were other times when I wondered if it even made sense at all to continue going to work, when so much of my pay went to daycare fees. The nature of the work I did meant I had to take lower paying jobs without the security of a pension. As my children got older and the need for my physical presence in their lives diminished, I was now faced with being older and not having higher education, or any experience with higher paying fields. Late at night, I lie in bed wondering how different my life would have been had I decided to go to university, instead of working those low paying jobs. 

As women, we need to know that we are making the right choices, and that, ultimately, whatever choice me make, we need to make the best of it. The only wrong choice is making no choice at all. Too often, women make ourselves feel like failures, no matter what decision we make. Yet, ultimately, in the end, none of us are failures, because whether we choose to show our children the value of staying home and caring for them, or the value of working to financially support them, they are our children and they will know that we made the best choices possible for them. How do I know this? Both of my children are healthy and happy upstanding young men who love me, and that is all that matters!

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