Ordinary women doing extraordinary things
It was reading this story of an ordinary guy with an extraordinary job, about Adelaide obstetrician, gynaecologist and women’s health specialist Chris Sexton (who happens to be my obstetrician) that got me thinking about the extraordinary jobs most women do.
Yet some don’t realise it.
Chris does have & do an extraordinary job. He points out in the article he couldn’t do it without his wife, Liz, who manages their practice, family, household and is “totally dependable”.
This is a role many women play. They are the rock in the family and household, balancing not only work, childcare, house duties, admin and social life, but many are also navigating their career whilst they transition to/from work having babies and finding time for themselves (often putting themselves last instead of first).
This juggle is very real. So often I hear women speak about it, and it’s often a reason why they seek more flexibility in their work. Flexible work practices certainly help, as does more broadly flexible thinking and embracing flexible practices across all aspects of your life, not just in your workplace.
You may have started out reading this article thinking it was showcasing a few women doing extraordinary jobs, but instead I’d like to point out all women are doing extraordinary jobs. Why don’t we acknowledge what we do is extraordinary? There are a few reasons for this:
In 2020 so many women are doing extraordinary things - managing home, work, family and personal aspects – that it seems the ordinary.
We live in a society that compares, competes and judges so much. Take social media as an example, do you ever see a friend’s post and compare yourself (or your life) to it? We hear stories of people ‘having it all’ and think this is an extraordinary person. This brings me to my next point…
You can ‘have it all’ but you can’t have it all at once. We strive to have everything we want and in the process get lost in what we don’t have instead of what we do have. This leaves us feeling frustrated, angry, depleted and other such unhelpful emotions instead of enjoying life.
Our identities are far greater than one or two roles. Woman, mother, wife, partner, sister, friend, employee, boss, ‘working mum’, ‘stay-at-home mum’… most of us have a number of ‘identities’. Own them, and don’t focus on any unhelpful labelling.
Guilt, oh the guilt! Ever feel or hear ‘I feel guilty when I’m at work that I’m not with my kids, and when I’m with my kids I feel guilty I’m not working.’ It may not be easy letting go of this guilt, but carrying guilt is burdensome and tiring. What can help is choosing how you spend your time and being present in what you are doing right now.
So to the women reading this, take a moment to celebrate doing an extraordinary job. Accept this compliment. If any of the points above resonate with you, look at how you can apply these to your life.
To the men reading this, thank you for supporting women doing extraordinary jobs. We need each other. And we need you there supporting us physically, mentally and emotionally in our home lives, workplaces and communities.
Finally, I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences or solutions for what Dr Chris Sexton says in his story, “And mothers today push themselves very hard! My mother said she worked in jobs where, when you told the boss you were pregnant the reaction was, “Congratulations! We will have a farewell afternoon tea this Friday”, because the workplace was no place for a pregnant woman. We are all glad times have changed but now, too, many mothers think they are letting people down unless they remain at work until their contractions are five minutes apart. I don’t think motherhood was meant to be so competitive.”
So ladies, why is this? Why do you feel you are letting people down if you aren’t working up until being in labour? And how could we support and offer kindness to ourselves and others more often than we compare or criticise?
I really would love to hear from you – email or LinkedIn PM me - if you have any ideas to help me in solving for this. One of the reasons why Job Pair exists is to offer real solutions to enable women to successfully work flexibly and live a life of fulfilment and balance.
Take care and own being extraordinary,