It used to be that men and women had very defined roles in our society. Men were responsible for providing for the family financially. It was a man's paycheck that kept a roof over the family's head, put food on the table, and allowed for leisure activities like family vacations. Women on the other hand provided for the family in a more emotional and physical way; cooking the meals, washing the clothes, helping children with homework.
Today, more and more women are choosing careers outside the home, and while many see women in the workplace as progress, I would argue this "progress" has created a whole new set of problems and challenges.
With no one dedicated solely to the structure and survival of the family, that entity is all but falling apart.
Let me make an analogy most working women, and men, will be able to relate to. If a co-worker quits or is fired or laid-off, someone else must now pick up the slack. That person's work must still get done. At first, the remaining employees share the load, but as more and more co-workers disappear from the office, your work load soon becomes unmanageable and the boss is forced to rehire.
The problem with working mothers is that the work load has become overwhelming. And unlike in the workplace, there is no hiring a "new" mom to take your place. Sure, you can invest in a nanny, or daycare. You can hire someone to clean the house, pay someone to do your laundry, even order your food ready-to-eat. For many, these quick fixes are not financially feasible, and even if they are, they only contribute to our fast-paced, out of control, unfulfilled existence.
For years now, the role of the traditional "mom" has in many cases remained empty. The position is vacant, and no one is hiring. A moms job has gone undone and the results are evident in our every day lives. Things like divorce, high school dropouts, childhood obesity, crime, even depression. These problems have always existed, so I won't blame women entirely. However, it's clear we mother's can not be everything to all people.
So, here is my question to working mothers. Why do you work? Is it because you think you'd go crazy stuck at home with the kids all day? Do you feel a social responsibility to contribute to society outside the home? Are you so passionate about your work that you look forward to and enjoy your time at the office? Or do you feel like you don't have a choice?
According to the most recent census, 72% of mothers work outside the home. While a majority of them probably made a conscience choice to return to the workplace, I'm guessing many feel obligated for one reason or another.
I'll talk more about that next week, but in the meantime let me know what you think!