Do you think 21st century mothers can have it all? What do I mean by ‘ have it all?’ Can women have a happy balanced family life & a successful career? Listen to the podcast here
Let me tell you why this question is important. In 2012 Anne-Marie Slaughter an American international lawyer, wrote a now famous article titled Why Women Still Can’t Have It All
Can women have a happy balanced family life & a successful career?
“It’s time to stop fooling ourselves,” says Slaughter who left a well paid job and a position of power: “the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed.”
“Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with. Even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career. Because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation. But when many members of the younger generation have stopped listening, on the grounds that glibly repeating “you can have it all” is simply airbrushing reality, it is time to talk.”
“I’d been the one telling young women at my lectures that you can have it all and do it all, regardless of what field you are in. Which means I’d been part, albeit unwittingly, of making millions of women feel that they are to blame if they cannot manage to rise up the ladder as fast as men and also have a family and an active home life (and be thin and beautiful to boot).”
“I told a colleague I was finding it difficult to be away from my son when he clearly needed me. Then I said, “When this is over, I’m going to write an op-ed titled ‘Women Can’t Have It All.’”
Feminist beliefs don’t make sense
She was horrified. “You can’t write that,” she said. “You, of all people.” What she meant was that such a statement, coming from a high-profile career woman—a role model—would be a terrible signal to younger generations of women. By the end of the evening, she had talked me out of it. But for the remainder of my stint in Washington. Increasingly, I was aware that the feminist beliefs on which I had built my entire career were shifting under my feet. I had always assumed that if I could get a foreign-policy job in the State Department or the White House while my party was in power. I would stay the course as long as I had the opportunity to do work I loved. But in January 2011, when my two-year public-service leave from Princeton University was up. I hurried home as fast as I could.”
What is our primary role?
As we know Islam permits women to work outside the home. As long as we are not neglecting our primary role. Which is to take care of the home and well being of our family.
The Prophet said: “Take care: each of you is a shepherd and each of you shall be asked concerning his flock. A leader is shepherd over (his) people, and he shall be asked concerning his flock. A man is a shepherd over the people of his house. He shall be asked concerning his flock. A woman is a shepherd over the house of her husband and over his children. She shall be asked concerning them. And the servant of a man is a shepherd 18 over the property of his master. He shall be asked concerning it. Take care, then, each of you is a shepherd and each of you shall be asked concerning his flock.” (Hadith from Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi.)
Sue Palmer, a former UK primary headteacher, writer and ‘childhood campaigner’ writes in her eye-opening book 21st Century Girls: how the modern world is damaging our daughters and what we can do about it.
“Over the last 40 years as women’s earnings have been absorbed into the economy. The dual income family is now the norm. For mum’s bringing up children on their own they often have no alternative but to work. If you don’t have extended family or friends close by to help. Or your husband works as well, this can mean you have to put your young child into daycare. This can cause anxiety and stress known as mum guilt. I remember feeling that guilt when I was a high school teacher.
So, I know this is an issue that you may face, and having been a working mum. I unsuccessfully grappled with this challenge myself. So, I’m on your side. I know It’s hard, I wish I hadn’t sleepwalked into putting my job above my family.
How Islam teaches us to balance our roles
So to help me explore the question, can women have a happy balanced family life & a successful career? I spoke to Mindful Muslimah in this weeks podcast episode. She’s based in US and is a licensed educator with twenty years of experience in teaching and parenting and a hard-working a mama of five beautiful people ages three to twenty-three. She also has a weekly podcast called Mindful Muslimah speaks. I wanted to have her on my channel because she used to be career orientated, earning a 6 figure income. However she turned her back on her dream job to wholeheartedly embrace her role as a mother and wife.
In Liberal secular societies, motherhood is viewed merely as an inconvenient interruption to a woman’s working life. So it’s bound to have a negative effect on the identity of women as mothers. We need to challenge the stereotype of motherhood as low status to an important woman’s work. The choice between love and money there may be a way to choose love, living more cheaply until children are ready for school.