Writer Sophie Isaacson discusses the harsh and busy reality of balancing a full time career along with being a loving mother to her two year old son.
Illustrations by the very talented Amy Killin.
I am all for women’s rights. I’m a proud descendent of some of the founding members of the suffragette movement in Scotland and I completely believe women and men can and do achieve anything they put their minds to every day.
However, I find myself, a young mum, working four days a week in a competitive office environment, while bringing up a two year old boy who wakes up at 5 am almost every morning feeling somewhat dismayed with the whole system for us women in today’s society. The pressure of our current equal society for women to ‘do it all’ can leave us in a constant state of guilt, feeling like we are under achieving, not giving enough to our families, not working hard enough, not climbing our way up our career ladders quickly enough, or just plain exhausted. We constantly find ourselves juggling our children’s needs with the expectations of our bosses, with some mum’s I know telling their employers that they are ill (instead of admitting that it is in fact their child who is running a temperature) in order to not be ‘marked down’ for being a parent. Instead of being supported in raising children we are all too often penalised in the workplace and made to feel inferior to male colleagues, childfree or single women. Instead of enjoying our children we are pressured into getting back to work, earning and keeping up with our colleagues. We find ourselves breast pumping in lunch breaks or crying in the office bathroom because it is so unnatural to be away from our babies for a full 8 hours.
I sometimes find myself craving to stay at home with my little boy singing nursery rhymes and reading the same stories over and over again; I sometimes sit in meetings dreaming of cooking meals and baking for my family only to look down at my diary and see that I have three more meetings and a trip to the supermarket before I can even think about going to pick up my flaked-out toddler from the arms of his childminder and then attempt to get him home semi-awake so that I can push as much pasta into his little mouth as I can before we both fall asleep before 7pm.
Whether we are working mums or not, we put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves, we give ourselves a hard time constantly for not being or doing enough, we measure ourselves up against other people, Instagram accounts, pinterest projects and we lose focus on what we are really achieving. Raising these little, incredible bundles of energy is a huge responsibility, they constantly try to injure themselves, they are irrational, wild, they don’t sleep and they refuse to eat anything healthy which is lovingly cooked for them. Staying at home with a mob of children is relentless and I would love for society to really stand up and congratulate women and all parents for sticking in there and bringing up wonderful little humans.
I believe if women want to go back to work quickly after having children, to be at the top of their game then that’s brilliant, I admire them. I admire the men who give up working to stay home with their babies.. But I also want it to be ok for women to want to stay at home, looking after their partners, raising their children, doing house work and feeding their families. For that job, from my experience is far more difficult and harder than I have ever experienced in any employment. It doesn’t have a clocking off time, it doesn’t have lunch breaks or even private toilet breaks for that matter. I would like to see a society where women are celebrated and feel empowered and proud whichever route they choose.
Keep up to date with Sophie on Instagram: @soph_iiii
Check out more amazing work from Berlin based illustrator & graphic designer Amy Killin on Instagram: @amykillingraphics