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sekang's picture

I recently read an article "Motherhood as a Retreat from Equality"  ( It talks how many women go back to work after giving a birth in Germany and France.

Though motherhood seems far in the future, I know it is coming and it's coming quickly. So I asked myself a question. I want to be a doctor. That is one of the reasons to come to Bryn Mawr so I can get eduated well. And, I wouldn't be able to trust anyone to take care of my baby(ies). Then, will I be able to sacrifice my career to be a "full-time mom"? Then, is coming to BMC worth it? Will it pay off someday? Or, would having a baby make me happy?


I have always wanted to ask my feminist friends this question: which one is more important? motherhood or career? Why? If you want to go back to work after having a baby, would you feel comfortable hiring a nanny to take care of your baby? If you do not want to go back to work right after, how long will you take a break from work? And, what makes you believe that the companies still want to hire you even though there will be smarter, younger people who work for them?


FrigginSushi's picture

As far as having other people

As far as having other people take care of your child, I can see both side. Personally, my mother just could hire random nannies to take care of me so I was always around family members that my mother could trust. But at BMC, I knew quite a few women who have been taken care of by nannies and have even continued having a loving friendship with those nannies today.

I agree with mbeale about how comparing motherhood and a "economically constructed carreer" can be dificult. There is just so many differences between the two positions that comparing them almost lessens the importance of each side. Though they both require taking out a lot of time from once life, it's both driven by two different reasons: money and love. But I think to ask the question of if feminist would choose to have a career rather than have children is to ask them whether they relate more to their brain or their heart, but it's not that simple. Our brain and our heart is in constant confliction with eachother and this is why it's such a hard question to answer.

I think asking feminist in particular about this question also has some underlying tones that suggest those who pick a career over a baby are heartless, which is not the case either. Overall, I have no answer to this question. I think it really depends on where you are at in life. Your needs are always changing, so you can't expect to have all the answers quite yet.

mbeale's picture

Trivializing Motherhood

Personally, I think the notion of not considering motherhood as a combatant of a success (a career) is a belittling attribute of Western feminism. Speaking as someone who does not aspire to have a child or to engage in a lifetime partnership with anyone, I can still say  there is a great deal of respect in calling motherhood a "career." To suggest a juxtaposition between a economically constructed career and a livelihood as a mother is problematic, and even a strike against a progression to seeing the equal value in the life choices we may not see for ourselves.

pejordan's picture

A Difficult Choice

sekang, I think your question gets to the heart of what I was wondering about in my paper, and it's one that I couldn't really answer. I think that the choice between a career and motherhood is one that isn't really emphasized today--people just assume that women can do it all. Originally, I thought that you could have both, but you couldn't have both to their fullest extent. However, now I'm not so sure.

I think the choice comes down to being "successful," but success depends on how you define it. In an ideal world success should be equivalent with happiness. But you can find happiness and fulfillment in both work and family, so that's not really an absolute answer either. I'd heard studies about children suffering when their mothers went back to work quickly, so I looked into it a little bit and found this article:

It looks like children don't suffer negative effects from their mothers going back to work; on the contrary, it could actually be beneficial. So maybe the problem comes down to something else you talked about, not being able to trust someone else with your baby. This is a hard problem, but there are solutions; having family members take care of your child, or implementing more child-care into individual workplaces so that you're not so far removed from them.

I still don't really know where I stand; I know I want to be a mother, but I want to have a career as well. Will I forego advances in my career for the sake of having a child? I would hope not, but maybe that's how it works sometimes.