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What to focus on your twenties: career or motherhood?

The women's decision to dedicate time for a career early in life is leading society to a huge change

Photo by Dawid Sobolewski on Unsplash

At age of 20 years old, my mother have already had three children. When she was about to turn 31, I was born, being the last of six siblings in my family. 

When I look at my mother’s trajectory, I acknowledge that having six kids might not have been what she would plan for herself. She grew up in a very traditional family, who would prize the old stereotype of women being more successful as a wife and a staying at home mother rather than following any career path.

Now, it has become quite uncommon for any individual of our generation, women or men, to create a family as numerous as that of my parents. There are many reasons for that — one is the fact that, as the women of our generation grow older, the novelty of motherhood become less appreciated than the development of a career.

This might have been my case for some time. 

I joined the marketplace at age of 13, although not officially, and that have taught me to be more independent and to get a formal education as soon as I would feel secure to apply for a university and work at the same time. 

As an university graduated with a postgraduate degree, I then was willing to postpone motherhood for as far as I could. But that is not a rule that applies to everyone. 

I myself know so many women that they have become mothers, even as early as my mother did, and yet they have “get it all”. They have learned to cope with motherhood and their careers at the same time — being relatively successful on both.

Meanwhile, many other young women are investing their early twenties on their careers, and that might have been their “best decision”. 

It turns out that starting to have professional experiences soon after college ends seems to be a more appropriate, while dedicating a few years of your twenties to motherhood does not seem like a smart choice. 

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Is that really?

I do not know. What I see is that women face more challenges in terms of career advancement when they do not add experiences to the curriculum from a very early age. 

In addition, motherhood at your twenties is not always a choice and everyone knows that an unplanned pregnancy can happen at any time.

Likewise, occupying the first jobs even before the completion of a university may be the result of the need for remuneration.

And while we try to figure out “what’s the best alternative”, I still believe that there is not a single answer. The best alternative will only be the “best” for each specific case.

Completing academic studies, adding professional experiences and working uninterruptedly may be a better alternative for many, while devoting the years of youth to bringing an individual into the world — that will possibly become a leader for a next generation — can also be the best alternative.

And that’s why I don’t believe in any secret formula, neither in the “blah-blah-blah” that the past generation would use to convince us for one or other path.

And the reason why I myself decided to have a career break and dedicate the precious years of my later twenties into motherhood is because I believe the tasks of changing diapers, breastfeeding, and playing with my kids hold a extremely valued purpose.

Motherhood have also taught me to be more patient, focused and driven to grow as I would not have learned otherwise. Now, my biggest goal is to become the best mother I can be for my kids, and I am hard working everyday to accomplish that.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

But, unlike me, I see less women become mother on their twenties and that brings big implications — for families, countries, and for the whole world.

As more women decide to postpone motherhood for later in life, they have greater likelihood of complications, even miscarriages, during their pregnancies. They will also have less fertile years to get pregnant. This means that the alternative of waiting to have children should be decided as soon as possible.

But choosing to wait also offers benefits to society. When women settle into their careers before they have children, they can have positive long-term implications for their children. A good education and more money increase the socioeconomic status of a woman. So a mother who has dedicated herself to her career before motherhood can potentially bring up as successful a child as herself.

Women who postpone the decision to have children and advance to leadership positions also have the power to establish policies with which their employees will benefit. This includes offering maternity and paternity leave, or allowing flexible working hours for new mothers.

But remember, while many of our generation’s women are putting off the “right time” decision to have children, that decision may never happen. And if it does, it may be too late. This explains why we see much smaller families nowadays than the large family created by my own parents. 

Now we have an answer:

The decision to wait to bring a new child into the world begins as a personal choice with personal effects. But the tendency to postpone motherhood to pursue careers is already transforming our world in many ways. It should be an individual’s choice to take action on how to make this world a better place for everyone.

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