Mary Kay Learns "What Women Want" - part 3

05-13-2009 1:53 PM

We've reached #3 in our series exploring what Mary Kay has recently learned in our research with women around the world.  One of the 10 things that women want today is family choices.  We find that, while family IS very important to women from all cultures, what that family looks like and how women feel about it can be quite different than the traditional family models of the past. 

Even as divorce rates in Mexico rise dramatically, family is still strong.  Our Mexican sisters, much like women in the US, spend a great deal of time and energy working to provide a better life for their children.  They work hard to keep the family the center of their lives because they believe that the downfall of other countries is caused by the decline of the family unit.

In China, many grandparents have the responsibility of child-rearing while the moms work to make their dreams a reality.  This multi-generational approach to raising children is a growing trend in the US, too, as families hit by tough economic times find themselves having to work additional jobs, cut back on daycare expenses and in some cases, move in with parents. In Korea, a woman's success and self-esteem is completely tied to the success of her children. There seems to be a growing trend among Latinas in the US to postpone starting a family to pursue education and career.  

Many mothers find themselves asking "Can I ever be ME again?" and wondering "What will life be like when the kids are grown and gone?" (Both are reasonable questions when you've spent more than 2 decades of your life doing something, and then that "thing" goes away.)

So here's where I'm going to add my own two cents, for whatever it's worth.  Having passed through my child-rearing years, I can honestly answer "YES" and "IT CAN BE GREAT".  Now, don't get me wrong.  I love being a mother and there was much joy to be had, and still is.  But with my children now 26 and 22, my life is much more complete and I'm much happier now than when I was actually raising them.  You see, I think so many times, mothers put themselves on "hold" while they are raising children.  You naturally go to the bottom of the list, and you find yourself working on everything else for everybody else and the "YOU" time just seems to evaporate.  That leaves a hole that leaves you feeling less than whole.  Once the kids are grown, certainly your responsibility as a mom doesn't go away, but you have more choices about how to use the time and energy that was devoted to the children previously.  For me, that meant I had more time to eat healthier, exercise, read, garden, not to mention more time to spend with my husband.  All things that reduced stress, made me feel better physically and mentally, and just contributed to making a better me.  With 20/20 hindsight, I now wonder why I didn't do those things while I was raising the kids, but at the time it seemed like every moment and every drop of energy I had was already taken up.  I wonder if that really was the case, or was I allowing other people and unimportant distractions to drive my life, thinking that I really didn't have a choice.  I'm happy to see many young mothers today who have figured out they do have choices when it comes to their family, and aren't allowing the pressures of societal norms to dictate what's best for them.

If there's one thing I would share with mothers of young children today, it would be (actually 2 things):  (1) don't put yourself at the bottom of the list.  It's not selfish to do the things that YOU want and need to do for you.  It makes you a happier and more complete woman, and like they say "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"; and (2) marriage is hard, and marriage with children is even harder.  If you're concerned about what your life is going to be like AC (after children), pay attention to your marriage.  Nurture the relationship you have with your husband while the kids are still at home, so when it's just the two of you again, the bond that you share is stronger than ever. 

P.S. I guess there's actually 3 things I would share.  (3) I'm not certain that you ever stop "raising" your children.  At 26 and 22, I can tell you mine still need some!