Mothers often find themselves in the difficult position of balancing their job and home life, most recently exemplified with Norwich MP Chloe Smith taking her baby into Parliament to vote on Brexit. Although some are applauding Parliament’s ‘shift to a family-friendly environment’ one should also consider the current burden that mothers tackle as they try to ‘have it all’.
In this incident, the baby was only present for a short period of time while the MP voted. This is not, as some have suggested, an active shift towards making Parliament a ‘family-friendly’ work environment but a blurring of lines between the work and personal lives, something forced by financial pressure.
Accepting the child in the room does not change the overall working environment of politics that makes having a child so impractical.
Meanwhile, the more negative responses demonstrate the social judgement heaped onto working mothers as they try to negotiate a balance between working properly and making sure their child is growing up well.
These days, women are not only expected to be good mothers to their children but to perform well at their jobs. This doesn’t even take into account the time needed if a mother wants to maintain a social life or work on her personal interests.
In a nutshell, the burden to be perfect in more areas than ever has been foisted onto women, neatly packaged as liberation. People expect women to ‘have it all’ at the same time and, as some newspaper commentators show, anyone failing to live up to this standard are awarded with scathing commentaries for when it’s a slow news day. In reality, such comments mean nothing when you consider that very few people can juggle successful careers, good families and hobbies at the same time.
Although they are better able to balance a work and personal life, most men cannot ‘have it all’ either.
The main reason that they could have successful jobs and families prior to modern times was because women did almost all of the domestic duties. With both parents now working, they must also make sacrifices between work and family.
Whether you choose to focus on one aspect over another or try to juggle both, sacrifices will always have to be made and no option will be enough to spare anyone judgement.