As I get closer and closer to the ripe (haha) old age of 30, I am feeling my biological clock starting to tick. So many big life decisions come into play at this point (not that I am in a relationship right now but I see all my friends getting married and having little mini-“thems” so I can't help but think about this).
For my female readers who are the same age (or maybe older than me), please stop reading because the following neurotic information will probably make you worried. If you continue reading, please release all liability to me for ruining your day and making your biological clock tick even more. Women around the world (well predominantly North America) are delaying childbirth longer and longer. For many reasons, including financial reasons, wanting to establish their career (I am one of them) before they have children, and because many don't feel ready (hello? responsibility? Yuck!).
Biologically, there are many reasons why a woman would want to start having children before the age of 35 according to Baby Center.
- Fertility rates decline after the age of 30
- They decline even more after the age of 35
- Rates of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy are higher
- Increased risk of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities
- Its much more difficult to give birth as an older mom
- Women delaying first childbirth to between ages of 35 to 40 have a higher risk of breast cancer
Now that I've scared you silly, lets talk about women having a career versus family.
Nowadays gender roles are completely different than they were even just 30 years ago. Women are a strong factor in the work force, out learning, out educating, and out achieving our male counterparts (sorry guys!). Notice how I didn't really say out earning 😉 More university graduates are female compared to male.
Despite these improvements to our advancement in the work force, it is still very difficult for women to do both, a career and a family, successfully. Many may disagree, however, a recent article in the Atlantic titled Why Women Still Can't Have it All really makes you think.
I've seen many full time moms (even full time single moms) do it while raising a family of three. Their partner also worked full time. It can be done but I think that you have to be very organized, and more importantly, you have to be comfortable with the feeling of guilt. Guilt that you're not focusing enough on your career, guilt that you're not a good enough mom, and guilt that you're not a good enough partner to your spouse. This is probably why so many children are spoiled these days, they are given toys, iPads, iPhones and other instant gratification gifts because their parents feel guilty for not being able to spend time with them. I know that if I have kids this might be the case, though I'll try my best not to fall into this trap.
Either you feel comfortable with guilt or better, you learn how to compartmentalize things. For example, set yourself a certain period of time for family time and catch up stuff for work. The Atlantic article suggested that the career ladder doesn't necessarily exist for women with children, it is more of a jungle gym. Stepping in and stepping out of the workforce throughout a career may be necessary.
Also, you probably have to survive on less than 7 hours of sleep every night. This idea of work-life balance is probably bunk. 😉
Personally, I don't think that a woman has to choose between career and family. I think it is possible to do both very successfully, but that it will take flexibility and a “go with the flow” type of attitude and patience, lots of patience. My personal plan (yes, I have a timeline which is ridiculous) is to hopefully have children in a few years and I would like to work part-time instead of full time if possible. I wouldn't want to give up my career entirely to be a stay at home mom (I admire stay at home moms!) but I have a friend who plans to do that if and when she has children.
Readers, do you think women have to choose between career and family? Can it be done?