It's Okay to Not Have It All

As the only mother competing in the Winter Olympics for Team USA, Kikkan Randall has already exceeded numerous expectations. Combined with her winning of a gold medal in cross-country skiing, Randall has proven to be phenomenal athlete. But it poses the question: how come there aren’t more moms competing? With new opportunities for women, how come every modern woman can’t seemingly have it all?

Up until the mid twentieth century, a woman’s place was deemed to be in the home. Cooking dinner, cleaning the house, and raising children were all womanly duties expected to be taken care of before her husband returned home from work. As more educational and economic opportunities arrived, women struggled with a choice between being at home and being in the workforce. The stigma that came with women in the workforce certainly did not help this situation.

Today, more than ever, the media portrays women who appear have it all. Successful, attractive moms who are able to balance not only a career but also having a family to provide for are on the rage. Honestly, a big round of applause to anyone able to do this. With age of marriage and child-rearing rising, it seems younger generations of women are putting families on hold in order to further their education and career. On top of this, the notion of women needing to be physically attractive despite all of this stress is still apparent. So, have a successful, steady career, be the best mom ever, and look stunning and stress-free while doing it. Got it.

Between the stress of a job and the stress of being a mother, it comes as no surprise the situation comes across as ‘either-or’. There is pressure to either successful, have both, or pick the right one to focus on. Every outcome is met with its own batch of scrutiny. Just because society grants women more opportunities today than in the past does not mean women must take advantage of every single one, nor should she have to validate why she made her decision.

(Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash)

The underlying issue is, by telling young women anything is possible and they can indeed have it all, they begin to blame themselves when life does not go according to plan. They believe something is wrong with them because they were not able to build a successful career, be settled down with a family, and maintain society’s beauty standards. It’s not to say a woman cannot have both a fulfilling career and the family she dreamed about but doing so without compromises is foolish. Today’s world makes it harder for women to actually have it all. Between how society and the economy are structured, women pursuing families and careers must make choices and compromises their male counterparts might not have to.

Instead of pushing the notion of women having it all, society should begin to encourage women to follow any path they see fit for themselves, and then support them through that decision. We can’t look down on women who want to be stay-at-home mothers for “conforming to society’s standards”, nor can we question why a woman would chose a self-fulfilling career rather than having children. And, for the women seeking to have it all, we must support them every step of the way. It’s hard to be a woman, no matter the decade, so we shouldn’t try to make it any harder for them.

(Thumbnail by Andrew Neel on Unsplash)