In 1971, 78% of under 35-year-olds agreed with the statement: “Whatever career a woman may have, her most important role in life is still that of a mother.” By 1982 that percentage had dropped to 46% and in 1991 it had dropped further to 26%. At the same time, according to the Negotiating the Life Course Survey 1997, 90% of respondents, regardless of age or gender, were equally supportive of the view that watching children grow is one of life’s great pleasures.
Personally, I really struggle to answer the question about what my most important role is. Motherhood and having a fulfilling career should not be an either/or debate for anyone. If I had to choose one though, I think I would say motherhood.
Like many women, I grew up thinking men were the superior gender. I’m not sure where this came from. It’s not something I was ever told or heard, as I grew up in a “modern” family, with liberal views. However, I distinctly recall thinking that the only good thing about being a girl was that you didn’t have to ask someone to marry you because that was the boy’s job! As a young girl that was obviously the most embarrassing obligation I could imagine (and probably also reflects my incredibly shy demeanour).
All that changed when I became a mother. All of a sudden I learnt about the unique benefits of being female and the “primary care giver”. Also, after having children I discovered that there are a lot more embarrassing things that can happen to you than having to ask someone to marry you. And that most of those things occur during or after childbirth!
"I discovered the joys of being a mother." Image supplied.
But, more importantly, I discovered the joys of being a mother. And for most women, being a mother is one of the most wonderful experiences of their lives. This has led me to a firm belief that we should embrace our femininity and start to forge our own paths and set our own benchmarks for success and achievement.