(This is the post that I hope my daughter reads before she decides to have children)
When I was a girl I thought I could grow up to be whatever – do whatever – I wanted. My mum told me that. My nana told me that. My teachers told me that. And I believed them, all. I never thought there would be a difference between what I ‘could’ do and what the boys in my classes ‘could’ do with their lives. I never thought there was a difference between what I ‘could’ do IF I chose to have children vs. IF I didn’t.
You see choosing to have children AND choosing to be successful in my career, in my life, was never presented to me as an ‘either/or’ choice. So I’ve approached my whole life that way. Finished school. Met my partner-in-life. Finished my first degree. Got engaged. Finished my Masters. Started my career. Got married. Had baby number 1 (when I was 28). Continued with my career (while my partner took care of baby number 1). Took a break from my career at 31 (while my partner started his career). Had baby number 2. Completed a Fulbright. Took a part-time job for a while. And have now started working full time and am about to take the biggest step of my career so far: putting my name forward to be ranked as a candidate on the NZ Greens List.
So things from here on in should be all good, right?
Uh-uh say all the knowing mums and dads reading this post. Why? You know why. Don’t try and make out like it’s not the case. The truth is – it’s because I’m a mum, eh? Would you shake your head like that if I was a dad with two young kids?
You see, I’m at the height of my career. But so is my husband. We are both in our early thirties. And we have two (wonderful) children that we love more than anything in this world – and they need time, care and attention. And as much as I want – with every bone of my body – to say it’s all good and it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s their mum or dad whose home with them: the truth is, I know in my heart of hearts, that it does. It does to my kids. It matters to them.
And that’s why for the first time in my whole life, I’m doubting my course. Up until this moment in time I’ve never doubted anything I’ve set out to achieve. Never doubted anything I’ve put my name forward for. But for the first time – as I write, with tears streaming down my face – I am questioning whether I am making the right decision. Even though, ethically – and intellectually – and in every single fibre of my body I KNOW that I have a hell of a lot to contribute to making a difference to politics in this country. But I also know that there are some amazing women who are also putting their names forward (or standing again) who have either chosen NOT to have children (for whatever reason) OR whose children have grown up or are older than mine. And the sad thing is: I hate that our society is structured in such a way that for any parent – woman or man – who wants to be successful in their career AND have children (and be a great parent to those children) that THIS IS WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO. That our society has been structured in such a way that a whole bunch of us are just expected to suck it up and remain mum – which google tells me is:
Well. Fuck you Google. I refuse to be silent about this anymore. I am a mum, and I’m proud of it. And to all the mums, dads, teachers and people out there reading this – I am asking you to stop being mum about this issue too. The truth is, we cant do it all. The truth is, a whole bunch of us HAVE to choose, whether we like it or not. And the truth is that for a long long time – and right now – most of us who are HAVING to choose are women. So what does that tell us about our society? Are we going to keep staying mum about that? Or are we going to do something about it? The choice is yours.
And the choice is mine too. But I dont want my children to pay for it. So what should I do?