Women: Are we our own worst enemy?


The other day I was on the phone to my great university friend Suzie, who is a stay-at-home mom with four kids. In contrast I am a single, working mother of two, so our lifestyles are pretty different.

Now, what was very interesting about our conversation was how defensive we both were of our life choices and how we felt, both of us, that we needed to prove to each other that our life was hard and not at all an easy choice. Luckily enough we both picked up on that and had a really much more interesting conversation on how critical woman can be of each other and how much we each admired one another. Ha! (I think actually, it was our mutual admiration that made us feel we needed to justify our own choices. It’s almost a sort of insecurity in ourselves that leads us to feel we need to pick holes in the choices others have made).

Working mothers are criticised for neglecting their children and for putting work before family. Stay-at-home mothers are criticised for not contributing to the finances of the family and for having an ‘easier’ life. Seems like none of us can get it right! I sometimes have the feeling that women are so much harder on themselves – and each other – than men are. We constantly scrutinise each others appearance, ageing process, career paths and behaviour.  But why? Here is my theory: we are still very insecure about what is the right role for a woman in society, and to believe that the choice we have picked for ourselves is the right one, it is necessary to justify ourselves.

If it was just up to choice, it would be so much simpler. But the problem is, some women have to work to support themselves and their family, while other women have partners who have time-intensive jobs and so they themselves aren’t able to work and be away from family. Some women are simply more fulfilled by looking after their children, and of course there are others who simply cannot find a job at all! It’s not always an easy choice to make.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it would be great if we could avoid judging other women for their choices or look down on them. We should be celebrating individuality and accepting that different scenarios work for different people. If we did everything the same way, we would live in a very boring world. Life is so complicated anyway so why do we seem to be each other’s worst critics rather than enthusiastic supporters?

And we also need to learn to accept that the choices we’ve made are what work for us, for our lifestyle and our families. We shouldn’t need to feel we have to justify this to anyone. There really is no such thing as ‘having it all’; everything is a balancing act and we all balance our many roles in very different ways. Let’s make sure we stand up for ourselves – and all those other women juggling their lives too!

– Emilie (and Suzie)

Above is a photo taken a couple of years ago of mine and Suzie’s kids, who, though brought up very differently still get on like a house on fire!




Comments (22)

January 8, 2015

Beautifully said. Thank you for this, Emilie

January 8, 2015

Great post!

Patricia Fuchs
January 8, 2015

Oh Emilie beautiful words, ️thank you

January 8, 2015

Just wanted to add my support to your post – I couldn’t agree more!

January 8, 2015

Fantastic post! Thank you, Emilie!

January 8, 2015

Bravo. i believe this insecurity, defensiveness, competitiveness contributes to making the (MY) school playground an interesting place!

January 8, 2015

Wow, that’s a good perspective.

January 8, 2015

This is music to my ears! Thank you Emilie for sharing a point which has been a discussion in our household for a long time. xx

January 8, 2015

Great post – nice reminder – I think we all feel a bit insecure – yep women all need to support each other whatever choice we make/ find ourselves in.

January 8, 2015

Beautifully said. I believe in our quieter moments we all think this (or so I’d like to believe), but I think we are all guilty of judging one another. I fear it is only getting worse too. Social media has made everyone so aware of everything. We are either envious of others or trying to validate our own choices to make ourselves feel better. I wonder if it is just human nature or the way our society is built – basically every man for himself. Gosh, I sound so grim :). A lovely sentiment nonetheless.

Esther in Amsterdam
January 8, 2015

Love this post, and I love how you bring it all down to us being our own worst critics (and on the defence, criticise others to make ourselves feel better, possible?). In any case — a great resolution for 2015, is to accept our own role in life, and be tolerant to others. x

January 8, 2015

Thank you all for your kind words, it was a really interesting and fun post to write. Please know that I wrote this post before yesterdays events in Paris, and the title of the post is unrelated to the senseless crimes committed yesterday. xx

January 8, 2015

Well said! Thank you, Emilie. Also, you and your girls have been on my mind the past two days. Sending love from the U.S.

January 8, 2015

This was such a wonderful post, Emilie. Thank you for sharing. I think it’s so important to have less judgement for ourselves and for the women around us, and more love. When it comes down to it we’re all doing the best we can with what we have. xoxo.

January 8, 2015

Great topic! Totally agree with your theory and observations!

January 8, 2015

Wonderful post Emilie and great comments too! It’s absolutely critical for all of us to take a step a back and realize that before passing judgement – we should consider that our criticisms are probably based on only seeing a sliver of that other woman’s story/life. Pretty pictures on FB, IG, and blogs never present the full scenario – yet for some reason we choose to make comments as if we know it all! Sigh. If only every friendship was as honest and authentic as yours and Suzie’s!

January 8, 2015

Liberté, égalité, maternité…. X

January 8, 2015

This is just lovely. I think we all love our kids so much that we will go to very great lengths to do the best for them. Turns out what is the very best for our kids and family is not necessarily the very best for all families. Turns out our decisions, can really be defining for us: Home birth or hospital birth; kinder garden or staying home; working at home, working out of the home; au pair or creche; school or home school,… these choices are often seen to be relationship makers or breakers. But the truth is, regardless of the parenting decisions that we make, we all love our kids completely and want the very best for them… I totally agree that it is time for moms to be encouraging moms, building each other up and supporting each other, regardless of the parenting decisions that we make along the way.

January 9, 2015

So well said. Thank you Emilie, it’s always wonderful to read one of your posts, especially this one.

January 9, 2015

Thank you for a great post! Very well said. This remind me of Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP website interview with Brigid Schulte, the author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has the Time, where she said, “It’s time to end the ‘mommy wars’ and realize we’ve all been on the same side all along…”

January 9, 2015

Oh, how wonderful! I’ve always said women should stop judging because us women are the worst enemies to ourselves. I am a stay at home mom and I’ve heard some pretty insulting comments about my decision – but I know better. I know that what I am doing is the best for OUR family right now. Just as you and you know what’s best for yours. And that makes me the happiest. Isn’t that what’s is all about? Just to be happy? I’ve heard somewhere long time ago that you wouldn’t be doing what are you doing if it wouldn’t make you happy. I hope all of you have the best 2015, stay happy and healthy and make the right choice!

January 22, 2015

can’t agree more!!

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