To me, having a career is about much more than financial independence. It’s about the challenge and joy of thinking creatively to find solutions to problems. It’s about being good at something that gives me inner confidence, and feeling like I have contributed and helped someone in some way.
I also love being a mom and I take pride in taking care of my family. I support women in their choices and I’m a firm believer that whether a woman chooses to be a stay-at-home mom or a career woman is her personal choice that works best for her family. No one has the right to judge her and make her feel guilty or inferior with either choice.
Nowadays, many women want to have it all and be successful at both having a career and a family. I have done both at the same time and to be honest, it was EXTREMELY difficult. I wore so many hats that a lot of times, I came home exhausted – mentally and physically. I read somewhere that women can have it all, but perhaps not at the same time, and I see truth in this.
On the other hand, I think women can have it all, as long as they get some good help. Case in point- when I was running my full-service marketing firm in Houston, Texas, my mother-in-law was living with us. She helped with cooking and taking our daughter to after-school activities. It was important for me to set priorities and boundaries, such as allowing myself to going to business functions after hours only a couple times a month, always coming home for dinner, and my husband and I taking turns to be at our daughter’s school functions, etc. We had to be super organized and plan well to make sure our child’s needs were met, even if it meant delegating some of our responsibilities. You shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed if it takes a village to raise your child. Not only was my mother-in-law extremely helpful, but it was wonderful for our daughter to have such a close relationship with her grandmother, which resulted in her being fluent in speaking Vietnamese.
I often felt guilty when I was at work and not with my daughter, and there were days that I was torn between the two. But ultimately, I’m glad I worked, for my own contentment, and for my daughter to see that it’s possible for a woman to have a career and a family. Now a freshman in college, she is an intelligent, ambitious and independent young lady, an idealistic crusader who cares deeply about important issues, and a passionate idealist who wants to make the world a better place (although I want to clarify that there is nothing wrong with dedicating your life to your family at all).
My focus shifts differently at different phases of my life. Although being a mom has always been my number one priority, I chose to work when I had wonderful assistance from my mother-in-law. Then, when we moved to Florida where we didn’t know a soul, I chose to stay home and put all my focus on my family. Now that our daughter has entered college and we’re empty nesters, I’m embarking on this new career journey that is all about my passions in life.
“We must allow a woman to make the right choice for her and her family, without judgment from others.”
Just remember that the choice of those you’re judging may be the same one you’re choosing later at a different phase in your life. I think the reason that some women judge each other’s choices is because deep down, they do it to defend their own choices. Women are pressured by society’s expectation to be perfect at everything. Unfortunately, some of us often internalize this pressure and begin competing and comparing ourselves to others. But comparison is fruitless because we don’t know people’s stories, struggles, or journeys. Competition, too, is regressive, because it only brings out our worst qualities. Society is tough on us, so some of us in turn are tough on each other, which is a shame. We women should all be kind to each other, uplift and support each other, enrich each other’s lives, learn from each other, be each other’s advocates and cheerleaders. Spread only positive karma around us, and the universe will reward us with the same abundance.
More power to sisterhood!