Let’s discuss; Can women really have it all?

Proverbs31

I absolutely love the book of Proverbs. It is filled with so many words of wisdom. You can’t read the book of Proverbs without having something to reflect on. It’s that deep. I remember the first time I read Proverbs 31 and got introduced to the virtuous woman. I was very afraid. As my former boss will say, “warris all this?”. That is what came to my mind. At the time, I just couldn’t understand how a woman would be able to achieve all the things that the virtuous woman was able to achieve. Before I gave my life to Christ, I never wanted to get married. I was beginning to change my views when I read Proverbs 31 so you can imagine how sceptical I must have been.

Fast forward a few years later and I read a very wonderful book by Bishop T.D Jakes, ‘A woman, her lover and her Lord’ (ladies, you must read this book!) and I found myself with those thoughts that filled my mind when I first read Proverbs 31. “How in the world is a woman supposed to balance all these conflicting roles”, I wondered to myself. Ladies, whether we like it of not, our success as a woman will always be tied to our homes/ families. It doesn’t matter whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and you have 10 first class degrees from different ivy leagues schools, if your home is nothing to write home about, then you have failed in your duty as a woman. Sorry. It took me a while before I could accept this but I thank God he has made me more enlightened.

Women are special beings and I believe that is why the nature of our role is a bit complex. Add the feminist point of view to the mix and it just looks like being a Proverbs 31 woman is almost impossible. You may choose to agree with me or not but as a woman you need to set your priorities and if you want to be a Proverbs 31, your family has to come first, after God that is. Wonder why some women sacrificed their careers just to be there for their children? It’s not because they are illiterates or they do not have ambitions. No. It’s because they realised it all comes to nothing if their children are not well brought up and if their homes are in disarray. I am not against a woman being an ambitious woman; after all, I am ambitious. What I am saying is that your ambition needs to be put in context. As a single young lady, I’m working as hard as I can now because I know when I get married I would have to say bye-bye to certain luxuries. I can be a chronic workaholic now because there is no kid or husband somewhere to take care of. It’s just me and myself. When I get home and I am tired, I can sleep off without eating or I can just eat garri. There’s no pressure to cook for anybody. When I do get married, things will of course change. I’m sure my husband will not want to come home and eat garri after a long day at work. I will not be less ambitious, but my ambition will be in the context of my role as a wife and a mother.

There are some people that believe that a woman cannot have it all; a high flying career and a close to perfect home. To some extent, I agree with them. If you want to rise to the peak of you career as a woman, your home will suffer one way or the other. I like the way my Pastor’s wife put it when I asked her questions relating to this topic. She said, “something has to give way”. That talks about sacrifice, I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about women who work in banks, for example, and the struggles they have to deal with. Most times they have to sacrifice their families for their jobs. It reminded me of the statement that Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO, made in June. Talking about work life balance, she said:

I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all. My husband and I have been married for 34 years. And we have two daughters. And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I’m not sure they will say that I’ve been a good mom. I’m not sure. And I try all kinds of coping mechanisms.”

I had to pause for a moment when I first read this comment but the truth in it cannot be denied. I know a lot of women who are struggling with this same thing. Some of my mentors who are very successful in their professional fields share with me the challenges they face everyday in balancing their role as a mother or wife and a managing director. This is why I believe a lot of women today are opting to be entrepreneurs. My friend that I mentioned above was of the opinion that it is the only way women can balance their roles. She said looking at the Proverbs 31 woman, she was an entrepreneur. She was not working for anyone. She was her own boss. We began to study the Scripture deeply and we discovered that indeed, she was her own boss (consider verses 14, 16 and 18). And it actually makes sense. Many stay at home moms run their own businesses on the side, be it tailoring or catering. Their time is flexible and they are able to make something of their lives outside of their families.

Prov 31

This is all well and good but what happens to the woman whose ambition is to be the CEO of Apple? Are we saying this is impossible? If she wants to have a good home, does she stand a chance of making this dream to become a reality? I’m not worried about putting my dreams aside for my family because my dream is to run my own business and be my own boss. But then again, I believe even being your own boss will also present its own challenges, for example when the business begins to grow. I wonder how women like Tara Fela-Durotoye and Jumoke Adenowo do it. Is there a special trick? Can we have it all or is it a myth? I could go on and on but I don’t want this post to be too long. I would love to hear your thoughts. This is not about feminism. It’s about being the woman who God wants us to be; being successful in every aspect of our lives as a woman. If you are a woman in the corporate world and you’ve been able to successfully balance your roles, how do you do it? I really want to know because this is an issue that is on the mind of a lot of Christian women.

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