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Will I ever become a woman?

Hillary Clinton on a recent trip to Australia has continually shown women how to (literally) run the world.

Hillary Clinton on a recent trip to Australia has continually shown women how to (literally) run the world.

I am shirking womanhood and I’m on the wrong side of 25 to be doing so.

In some instances I'm a 16-year-old girl stuck in a 20-somethings body – I prefer crop tops to Chantilly lace bustiers and buying condoms still makes me blush, however on the flip-side one aspect of my personality has certain mature aged qualities about it – I'm reading more books than ever before and I rarely drink anymore.

Some days I feel like Hillary Clinton ready to take on the world (minus the scrunchie) while others I'm like Molly Ringwald in her John Hughes days. Once I absentmindedly used hairspray as a deodorant and affixed my top knot with Rexona, not even kidding.

Some days a girl just has to let her inner Molly Ringwald out.

Some days a girl just has to let her inner Molly Ringwald out. Photo: Universal Pictures

This existential stocktake occurred recently when I was asked on several occasions by a number of relative strangers if I have kids – not "a kid" – but children. The plural hung heavy in the air like the lid had been lifted off of a 1971 bottle of Clinique's Aromatics Elixir. The question left me speechless because in my mind I've got more of a chance of being invited to tea with Princess Di than purchasing nappies, organising babysitters and pumping milk.

I can barely look after myself let along a fully-formed zygote, plus I swear like a drunken sailor and have accessories which would be dangerous when worn in close proximity to infants.

I then re-read Anne-Maree Slaughter's story in The Atlantic titled "Why Women Still Can’t Have It All", an essay written earlier this year that basically reiterates the debate which has been raging since Mary Magdalene juggled a ‘career’ with being Jesus' BFF – women must choose between motherhood or the workplace as the two are like balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

It's this "have it all" phrase that irks me. My girlfriends and I don't want it "all" we just want to be happy with our lot, hence why we are always striving for new achievements and focusing on milestones – whether they be a new job, a holiday, improved fitness levels, a baby or a change in relationship status.

While my inner 16-year-old considers "it all" being an endless supply of Maggie Beer's burnt fig, honeycomb and caramel ice-cream and a television permanently tuned into HBO, close-to-30-me knows that "it all" should mean a balanced life featuring a successful career, happy family and healthy relationships.

However I think one of the reasons I've become a "woman child" (similar to a man child but with ovaries) is because I was raised by a woman who actually did have it all. “All” in this case includes a fantastic support system of child care workers who happened to be related. It was not surprising to read the recent stats released by the ABS that grandparents are still the preferred child minding option for working mothers.

My mum worked full time when my brother and I were growing up. She invented the phrase "Just F..king Do It" long before Michelle Bridges attributed it to personal training. She travelled regularly, worked long hours and was heavily involved in community activities so attending our athletics carnivals and signing in for canteen duty at school wasn’t always possible. There were some nights when she wasn't there when I would fall asleep clutching a framed family photo and sob into my pillow however I would not have changed a thing.

If it weren't for both of my parent's busy schedules I would not have learned how to cook chicken and spaghetti (thanks Nanna), learned how to drive (thanks Nan) or understood the intricate rules of French cricket and how to cheat on crossword puzzles (thanks Pop).

However with my mum having it all while I was working my way through my formative years, the one thing that always stuck out to me was how lucky I was to have a loving home, a comfortable upbringing and an ambitious matriarch.

"There are people out there that are a lot worse off than you," was my childhood slogan and it's something I continue to tell myself when I'm having a Molly Ringwald sort of day.

Hopefully I grow up and out of my woman child phase before the crow's feet get too deep but if not all I can do is strive to be happy and healthy then perhaps "it all" that Ms Slaughter speaks of will fall into place.

Do you think there are a growing number of "women children" like me? These days what traits or achievements separate the girls from the women and the boys from the men? Do men have their own version of "having it all"?

4 comments

  • Yes Jenna unfortunately you are NOT in the minority, your me generation, avoiding taking responsibility but happy to carp from the sideline sisterhood, demanding more but contributing less undermine all that my generation fought for for the betterment of women.

    Commenter
    Irene
    Date and time
    November 22, 2012, 1:11PM
    • What an ignorant reply. Jenna, you're still in your 20's, you have the right to like crop tops (as awful as it is now they're back in fashion, albeit in looser form, thank goodness) and HBO.. I'm in my 30's, with kids, house, car, career & investment portfolio, but after glassing myself washing tumblers in the sink one day, still phoned mummy and cried like a baby.. you never actually stop being a child.. you just get more perspective and experience which enables you to make grown-up decisions and therefore appear to indeed be "grown-up" (whatever that means). Hilary Clinton, for goodness' sake, wore a scrunchie cos she likes scrunchies, and good on her. So.. should you magically become PM tomorrow, it will not change a thing about you (except your job title and maybe your stress levels).

      Commenter
      Didi
      Date and time
      November 22, 2012, 4:35PM
  • In my opinion, if you are independent from your parents* and support yourself then you are an adult. What type of clothes you wear is irrelevant, same for whether or not you want to or can look after children.

    *I should add that people who live with their parents may be considered fully functioning adults if they contribute a reasonable amount of time and/or money to the running of the household.

    Commenter
    Judy
    Date and time
    November 22, 2012, 3:13PM
    • I don't think anyone really grows up till they are 30. I had my first child at 23, and when driving my first proper new car out of the showroom, I remember turning to my husband and saying "Wow, I feel like a real grown up!" He nodded at our sleeping toddler and said "You do realise you have a two year old". Eeek. Even now at 42 I sometimes think we're all faking it. I go to BBQs with old school friends and I can't figure out how we all ended up with houses, kids, dogs and even divorces. And now I'm going out with 30 year old, so really testing the old adage "you're only as old as the man that you feel"!!

      Commenter
      Jojo
      Date and time
      November 22, 2012, 4:15PM
      Comments are now closed
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