Monday arrived and being Monday the day was predictably dull. So to spice up the start to the week I met up with my friends after work. They introduced me to the 6-8pm 2-4-1 cocktails which have been haunting me for the past few days.
As we sunk our weekly recommended amount in a few rounds the conversation turned to, as it always does, our lives, the future and what ifs?
All of us were in our early twenties but our situations could not have been more different we consisted of drama school students, aspiring actresses, writers and a friend who had moved to France over a year ago learning what it is to be English in France….(Disliked)
What we all had in common was that we were all nervous about how on earth we are going to manage our lives in the coming years. At 24 I don’t think I have come close to get what I want out of my career, I don’t think I am finished wanting to travel and I am certainly not where I want to be financially.
We discussed creating a family in addition to achieving all the things we want and for all of us it was a priority. However, none of us could think of how or when we were going to fit it in. I then asked the question ‘What would you do if you got pregnant now?’ they all looked at me as if I somehow knew they were and were now secretly conducting some serious period maths.
One of my friends said that she would just have to not think about it and have an abortion. Others said that because they were out of education and in theory could somehow support the baby financially, with the help of families and benefits, they felt that they had no excuse but to have the baby adding that it would also mean an end to their dreams.
Now I am starting to question why we have created such an anti-family working world, especially for Women. I want a career I am not only proud of but one which is personal to me and gives me a sense of worth and purpose. But I have always wanted a family and I want children. I have only ever been certain about two things: I want to write and I want to be a Mother. I think I can manage them both a lot easier than if I wanted to be a Lawyer or a Businesswoman but will those women, who have high powered careers, forever take a back seat to Men? Will Men be given the same rights as women in terms of flexible working hours and extended paternity leave or will career Women face an excruciating choice of sacrificing their relationship with their children or their career they have worked so hard for?
I feel very privileged to have been brought up in a house hold where I was allowed to be free. I was never told what path to choose and was always encouraged by both my parents. I grew up in a home with parents who were genuinely interested in me they showed that they loved in every way possible and they still do. I still sit on my Dad’s knee and cry when I am really sad and I call my mum for chats almost every day. I want my children to feel like as loved as I do and I want them to think as highly of me as I do of my parents.
But what scares me is that most of my friends don’t have parents like that and perhaps that is because they didn’t have time to form such a close bond because they weren’t able to be as involved in the years that you’re growing from a child into an individual.
My Father worked full time as a Policeman and my Mother ran the household and cared for us until I was 14 and my sister was 16. I don’t think we would have been as successful (in our careers and personal lives) if my Mum had worked full time when I was growing up as it wouldn’t have allowed as much free time for my Father to spend with us and they both would have struggled to do it all.
I want a family but I don’t want to give up my own aspirations and dreams. I want to put my all into my career AND into having a family without having to wait until I am 40 years old!
In my opinion the best way around it is to do both but don’t feel pressure to do them at the same time. But it’s not as easy as that. Our culture judges Women who have children too young, Women who have children too old are selfish and those who start a family at the height of their career? Well they are just stupid and are being unfair to their employer.
Flexible working hours and increased paternity leave is the way forward but I also think that Women who do stay at home with their families shouldn’t be shunned from the working world when they want to return to work but being unemployed for so long can put off a potential employer and can they really be blamed for that?
What a pickle we found ourselves in on Monday night…the pressure of it all lead to many more drinks, alas there was no solution to our dilemma!