Just been listening to Radio Scotland who have been discussing if it is possible for women to have it all? Magazines create an image of women who can have a successful career, children, beautiful house, look wonderful and keep fit. Is this possible the programme was discussing?
As someone who has always regarded herself as believing that men and women are equal and what our counterparts do we can do just as well I listened to this debate with interest as I have perhaps mellowed my strong views in my late 30’s and early 40’s as I realise that yes you can do it all but it doesn’t make for happiness and gives you alot of guilt and for me a great deal of stress.
Basically those speaking in the debate agreed with me including the glamorous Jackie Bird of Reporting Scotland fame. Yes women can have it all if they want but all of us suffer from some type of guilt and some part of our life won’t get the attention it deserves. So for some it will be the kids and the nanny or childminder will spend more quality time with them, for others it may be the career or you manage both of those but just have no time for just being you.
This gave me pause for thought its a theme that I have been contemplating over the summer. For the past two years due to financial constraints we have been unable to go on holiday to Spain for two weeks in a glorious villa with pool in some undiscovered part of Spain. Do I miss this yes if I am honest especially as the rain came down on a very wet day in Keswick. Would I swap it for what I have the rest of the year and go back to earning more and working 24/7? The answer would have to be no I wouldn’t. It is not worth it for two weeks all be it two weeks of bliss. What I have now is the ability to walk my kids to school and wave them in. I get to all their significant events and if one of them is ill I can easily stay at home without the guilt that I should be at my place of work.
My story is like many women that I know of my age and stage. We were brought up in Thatcher’s 80’s believing that we could have it all and that hard work would lead to lots of money and therefore happiness. For a long time I did just that driven by a strong desire to let go the insecurities of my school days and prove that I was intelligent and skilled and good at what I did. That led me to make my career number one and yes things suffered as a result in my personal life.
Moving to the Scottish Borders again as a career move was the best move that I made as it made me realise that there was more to life than just work and took me back to my childhood love of rural life and the great outdoors. However this did not stop me still going up the career ladder. In fact having my first child a daughter made me want even more to prove to her that her mum could do it all and make her proud.
Did it? No she couldn’t care less nor could my son. What they want is a mum who is there for them and makes them feel that they are number one in my life. But it took me a few years to realise that one. I tried to manage it all. To the outside world I looked as though I did. Important local job as Area Director of VisitScotland, wife, mother who always had a new outfit on and who also managed to run several 10k’s. But the reality was that I was miserable with a growing sense of guilt in every aspect of my life. Until one day after yet another horrendous meeting I realised I could do it no longer and didn’t want to get to age 60 and realise I had let it all slip away while working. So I sat down with my now fellow Director in Starbucks and said I was quitting and why didn’t we set up the business we had always wanted to. She said yes and the next day we had the same conversation with our other Director and Bright Light Marketing was born.www.brightlightmarketing.co.uk.
You could argue that setting up my own business was more of my career driven self. But I would argue no. Firstly working for myself I work flexibly and put the kids at the centre of things. Secondly rather than going up the career ladder of management. I have gone back to something that I love and that makes me happy. Marketing particularly working with rural businesses to make rural economies successful. I love my work and believe that Bright Light Marketing do make a difference and I am enjoying seeing it grow. But it is no longer the centre of my world. My husband, family and our life in the Scottish Borders is the most important thing for me and I am a far happier person as a result and I believe a better person to be around in all aspects of my life.
So what does that mean for my feminist views? I still believe that we are equal and for some families it will be the dad who will take on most of the child care and that is great. For us though my husband is the main earner and I believe if you want your kids to have hands on parents you make decisions based on that. For us that was me making changes to my life. On a equal basis though and talked through at length.
So in ending I really enjoyed the Radio Scotland program but couldn’t help thinking that my 20’s self would have had a very different view. But the Fiona Drane in her 40’s is a better rounded person for the changes made to her life.