Balancing Family and Career

The duality of women’s lives still makes it difficult for them to achieve all that they might in their careers. A story in last week’s New York Times drove this point home. It dealt with a female commander in the army who was in line for general, a level women don’t get to very often. But she was also the mother of three children, and she took herself out of the running because the demands of the job would keep her away from her kids too much.

I don’t think this is a tragedy, by the way. Women, by their nature, do the nurturing, and the nest does not run as well if a mother is away too much. But it is a sad truth that women still have to weigh career and family as carefully as they ever did, and not just for themselves, but for their spouses and for their children. The would-be general’s kids told the New York Times they were much more angry and resentful if their mom went away for a few days on business than if their father did. Why? Because they missed talking to their mom and having her help them fix things and make them all better. Basically, they were saying, your mom is your mom and you want her to be around.

There is no right answer here. Each woman must decide for herself — in her situation, with her aspirations — which course to choose. Should she go all out, straight for the top, even if it means sacrificing a lot of time with the kids? Does she have a mate who can fill in the gaps? Or should she hold back, keep the balance, at least until the kids are grown, even if it means losing that top rung on the ladder? These are all questions men never have to ask themselves, but women do. And we need to do it for our families as well as ourselves.

It is so very hard to be the best you can be outside the home and inside the home as well. There are only so many hours in the day, only so much energy to go around. In a way, women have the best of both worlds because they are so much at the center of their homes. But they pay a price for that duality by constantly having to balance their needs against the needs of those they love.

I wish this was an issue where a new law or a governmental decree could change things, but, unfortunately, it’s not. It’s our human natures that lie at the heart of these choices and conflicts and, even as we try to see beyond the present into a brave new world.

The solutions to who will run the home and raise the children remain as complicated as they ever were.

We’ll go to Mars, find a new solar system and discover the key to cold fusion before we solve this conundrum of domestic tranquility.

June 26th, 2012 - Posted in Wellness | | Comments Off

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