Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT
Thirty seems to be a cursed age for Chinese women. It means motherhood for most women and more pressure if you are not a mother.
Being a Chinese woman myself, though not officially turning 30 in the new year, I have started to feel haunted by the curse. My resistance to motherhood has already reached an all-time high, especially after seeing how Chinese mothers suffer.
One of my female colleagues, the mother of a 3-year-old, was asked to switch to "a job suitable for mothers" by her family simply because she had to leave home at around 9 am for work, which is already very late compared with most jobs in China where work usually begins at 8 am. How she reacted to the family suggestion terrified me even more.
"Maybe it is time for me to change jobs. I am willing to do whatever for my kid," she said.
Standing on the threshold of 30, I am no longer affected by her statement. Instead, I feel sorry for this competent woman and many more Chinese mothers just like her.
It is never easy to be a working mother no matter where you live in the world. But it seems to me that a Chinese mother suffers a little more in the business of juggling her job and baby. She has to be the best at both. She must spend quality time with her child as he or she grows up. She must be caring and loving, read bedtime stories, bake and so much more. At work, she must be an excellent employee and one of the top performers throughout the year. She must also be competitive and aggressive to get paid a high salary.
Here is one golden rule that such expectations have overlooked: time cannot be doubled for anyone. It takes time to do either job well.
Thirty is widely seen as a milestone in the Chinese job market. One's career is expected to take off after 30, be it in the form of a promotion or something else. However, the way is shut for countless Chinese mothers who must find a balance between advancing their career and being a good mother to their child. So, many pick one role and settle down to take care of their family, which of course, is fine and deserves everyone's blessing.
But sometimes such sacrifices, which seem to have been willingly made, carry more underlying grudges than one might think. I remember how my aunt used to criticize my cousin for failing to live up to her expectations after she sacrificed so much for her whenever the young girl failed at something.
I value my personal development more than anything else, and a baby will never count as one on my list, no matter how honorable others deem motherhood. So, good luck on raising kids and winning best employee at the same time ladies. I have chosen the route to easier success.