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As the oldest of eight, a young professional, and an aspiring mother, a question that is constantly on my mind is whether women can “have it all” — can women be successful mothers with fulfilling careers? Growing up in a large, religious household, I can say from firsthand experience that this question has incited many lively conversations.

Before I proceed with this op-ed, I want to clarify that I am in no way claiming to be an expert on the topic of motherhood, especially in terms of balancing a career. But as the firstborn with seven crazy siblings, as well as the so-called “second mother,” I can personally attest to the tremendous amount of sacrifice and responsibility as a result of the role that my own mother has played in shaping my life and can confidently say that motherhood in and of itself is its own profession that should neither be undervalued nor excluded by our current working society.

As humans, we know that every person is different in their limitations, advantages, and desires. Mine are not yours and vice versa, but despite this, I do recognize that there are inherent responsibilities that are applicable to every woman — one of which is properly recognizing and aligning her priorities.

All mothers and aspiring mothers need to know that their children take precedence over their careers. However, I do in fact believe that women can be successful mothers and have fulfilling careers, but it is a woman’s duty to place the needs of her child before the desires of her profession.

I’m a planner with an incredible drive, but I too find the possibility of having “both” quite daunting given the external factors that our working culture places on women these days, making it nearly impossible to comprehend the idea of successfully having both. Business demands such as long work hours, inflexible schedules, and lack of parental leave are just some of the many factors that are incompatible with this lifestyle. But as the old saying goes, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Since it is a given that our economic society as a whole will not meet the demands of motherhood, women must try to be innovative and work within these parameters. Look at Amy Coney Barrett, associate justice of the Supreme Court and mother of seven, or Rachel Campos Duffy, a major television personality with nine kids. Both women play incredible roles in shaping our culture for the betterment of our country, and they do so while successfully juggling the demands of both motherhood and their profession.

Amy and Rachel are positive testaments for women who desire to “have it all.” Am I saying it’s easy? Not in the least, but I mention these two primary examples so that I may instill hope for aspiring mothers like myself.

I also want to note that, personally, I’ve realized that, as passionate as I am about my job and the tremendous opportunity I’ve had to climb the professional ladder these past five years, my career does not fulfill me. Frankly, it’s not enough and never will be. There’s a void that stems from the recognition of my unique gift as a woman to nurture and give of myself in a profound way to my future child. Referring back to the role my mother played in my life, had she not been there during the formative stages, my life would be vastly different and negatively impacted by her absence.

Now, I am aware that not everyone can afford to remain at home with their children, but if possible, the mother needs to make a point to be in her child’s life, especially at an early age. Surprisingly, COVID-19 has produced some positive outcomes that are compatible with motherhood —working remotely, flexible hours, etc.

If you find yourself having similar struggles looking ahead to motherhood, I urge you to be encouraged. It is possible to have both. Just as it is your responsibility to be successful in your profession, more importantly, it is your duty to be a successful mother. You have a unique role to play in the life of your child. As long as your child knows that he or she is loved, you’re sure to succeed on either path you choose.