As it’s International Women’s Day, I thought it was a good opportunity to reflect on the success of women everywhere. Times have changed and now women are brought up believing and expecting that we can ‘have it all’ – but that does in itself bring challenges.
I know I have said this before, but my own story is that I spent many years working in the NHS at a very senior level; whilst juggling two very small children. I felt an obligation to work, to be a good role model, to make use of my degree, to use my brain (I also had a financial obligation to work). I also had a strong need to do a good job and deliver the best I could. However, that was in direct conflict with my need to be a good mother to my boys and to not miss out on their sports days and nativities. This resulted in a lot of guilt: guilt that I couldn’t do my job well enough and guilt that wasn’t the mother I wanted to be.
I was lucky; this was my impetus to change and I retrained as a Coach (in hindsight I am not sure how I managed this alongside working full-time and looking after the children!), and eventually I set up my own business. I haven’t looked back – I love my job and I now have the opportunity to agree my own hours; being able to go to the important school events, help the children with their homework and have a rewarding career. There are still juggles along the way and I don’t always get it right but I know that I am doing the best I can for both my job and for my family life; and I believe that I am finally a good role model for my children and other women who want to ‘have it all’.
Of course, I appreciate that I was lucky as I was clear about what I wanted to achieve. It isn’t always that easy – and I coach a lot of women who feel as stuck as I was in a corporate job: wanting to find a way out, but not knowing how. I also coach a lot of women who feel guilty about not being able to cope, or they feel they should be better in some way. But in all the time I have been coaching, I have never met someone who isn’t genuinely doing their best, given the situation they are in (and that situation is often combining working, being the main care-giver and looking after the home). For that, we should be proud – we should be proud of what we are achieving and most of all, we should be celebrating the success of women everywhere.