Am I the only (ordinary) woman out there who was no less ambitious after childbirth than before? When thinking about writing this blog, I checked with my other half to see what his observations were. “Was I any less ambitious after the birth of any of our three children?” I inquired. “I’ve never seen you lose any ambition or focus, ever!” he replied enthusiastically.
Looking back, I do believe that I was even more committed to being successful in my career post maternity leave as I felt an enormous responsibility to ensure that I could provide for the family financially. Yes, I’m lucky to be happily married, but in addition to divorce, I know life can be full of surprises such as illness, death, and unemployment and therefore I’ve never been comfortable relying on someone else financially.
This strikes me as being no different to what a new father feels. Of course children need to spend time with their parents in order to help them figure out how the world works, but time alone won’t buy a comfortable house, pay for private school or expensive medical bills.
In countries like the U.S. and the U.K., women are viewed differently from men once they become parents. Men are considered to have matured once they become fathers and are seen then to be more committed to their work as they need a stable income.
Women, by contrast, are considered a risk at work, no longer able to concentrate on the job at hand as they struggle with the emotions and demands of motherhood. Tell that to Kim Clijsters and all those women who have no less desire to achieve new heights in their career after the baby arrives. It’s time to move past stereotypes and to treat each professional – whether male or female – as having a unique set of talents and ambition which may or may not change after parenthood. We are not all the same.