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While the life and times of the working mother are not for the faint-hearted, countless women every day are doing the home and office juggle in a manner that would inspire most circus acts.
The fact is that the balance between being a high-value employee and a great mother can be achieved.
And although it may not be easy, mothers across the country are setting shining examples of what it means to meet their responsibilities to partners, children and employers, no matter the demands placed on them.
That is the view of Kim Meszaros, marketing executive of the Kelly Group.
Meszaros, a working mother, says: “Following our recent celebration of Mother’s Day, we continue to celebrate the mothers who constantly remind us that we always have more to give no matter our circumstances.
“From the beginning of time, mothers have had to balance demands placed on them both as mothers and members of the greater community. Gathering food would have been combined with cooking, cleaning and parenting children.
“As a result, since the dawn of our history, women are expected to manage the diverse expectations placed on them as both caregiver in the home and productive family member out of it.”
As Meszaros points out, mothers have come an exceptionally long way since the beginning of humankind.
“In our more recent history, several factors have combined to give women increased access to the world of work,” she says.
“Gender equality aside, the invention of washing machines, dishwashers and the like have given mothers more time. They can now leave the house to pursue jobs that reflect who they truly are.
“Medical advances have thankfully reduced the time mothers spend caring for their sick children.
“And the rise of single-parent families, as well as the need for higher incomes to maintain a certain quality of life, have meant that some women have no choice but to work.”
A timeline of the roles mothers have played since their entry into the workplace is an interesting reflection of the gradual empowerment of women.
“Nursing, by way of example, was one of few socially-acceptable positions for females in the 1960s, and the post of air stewardess or flight attendant remained the dream of single young women for decades,” Meszaros points out.
“The title of secretary was only associated with women for years, and only recently has the term PA begun to apply to both genders.
“The good news is that while your grandmother may have performed a socially acceptable position such as having worked as a caregiver to hospital patients, and your mother might have filled an administrative position as an office assistant, the world of work and unique and diverse career opportunities have never been more accessible to women.
“In South Africa’s unique historical and socio-economic context, your mother might have been a domestic worker, but thanks to her hard work and dedication to you, you now have more opportunities than ever before.
“Beyond rare occasions such as Mother’s Day, let us celebrate with pride the mothers who work to pave the way for the future of their children.
“And let us honour the women who have made good use of the opportunities created by the mothers who entered the world of work before them,” concludes Meszaros.