Motherhood confers upon a woman the responsibility of raising a child. This process also changes the way in which she is perceived in society and at her workplace. It can necessitate her to take more than available leave options, and job security can be at risk. Significant social and personal adjustments are necessary to cope with such a situation.
A working mother, especially one who has the good fortune to be able to balance her home and work, enjoys the stimulation that a job or career provides. She develops the ability of raising a useful member of society and at the same time gains financial independence. Along with motherhood, work adds to the completeness of being a woman.
One could define a working mother as a woman with the ability to combine a career with the added responsibility of raising a child. Within this broad term may be encompassed two different categories of working women: the stay at home mother who works from home and the woman who works away from home while managing to fulfill her maternal duties.
Material aspirations and the necessities of daily life often compel both parents to work. A qualified woman may insist on working to maintain an effective career and be financially independent. The single working mother is a combination of these entities, working not only to run the family, but also maintaining her position as a financially independent head of the family.
Therefore, the need to support a working mother is well recognized. It has also been explicitly mentioned that the dominant role in childcare is recognized and assumed to be that of the mother and that this responsibility affects the working life of women more than that of men.
Certain common problems plague most working women. Foremost amongst these are income difficulties. If the mother works, childcare support is essential and can be quite expensive. It may actually offset the financial benefits of both the parents working.
In Asian countries, and in many joint family systems, grandparents and other nonworking family members fulfill the need for childcare–they take over the job of childcare when the mother is at work. This very important benefit (of readily available child support from the family members themselves) in joint families not only recognizes that the working mother is an important member of the family, but also provides her the necessary support to be able to perform her dual role efficiently.
Stress loads can be quite high amongst working mothers and these may often reflect in their relationships at home. She is stressed to reach work on time, to send her child to school and to reach all the children’s deadlines on time including food and dress, and she is also pressed for time to look after her home simultaneously.
Housework is still considered the woman’s domain. Working women shoulder additional responsibility of the work place as well as at their domestic front.
Unexpected sickness of children is a calamity that can be difficult to handle. There often is need to use and avail of unpaid leave and unexpected absences from work. Few employers would consider the needs of sudden leave requirements in women with young children. Even in double-income families, it is still the woman who is expected to take care of a sick child.
Sexual relationships can also be quite strained in working mothers. Much of it can be attributed to lack of time and to fatigue, especially where both partners have long working hours.
Nutritional requirements may be neglected in the quest to complete and meet all targets at home as well as at work .The rush of married women into the workforce runs against traditional thinking that women must choose between family and career. Many observers condemned working mothers as selfish, unnatural and even dangerous to their children and. It was complained that the rise in juvenile delinquency could also be attributed to women who are working mothers, but needs and requirements of the family unit will always supersede ill-defined logic.
Women, motherhood or not, continue to work. The reasons are, more often than not, inspirational. Many of these mothers are young and have spent years developing their careers. When both spouses work it may be necessary for the mother to retain her job if she has insurance benefits, and if she wants to retire with better retirement benefits. Many of these women find the need to maintain a parallel source of income a social security and a sign of independence.
…with Thelma Asantewaa