Modern women like to think we invented the idea of balancing work and family but women have always done it.
An ethic of maternalism was central to the utopianism of 19th century feminists. I don’t think that today’s women see motherhood as a source of personal power, let alone political power. I don’t think that women now have that same sense that their lives as mothers gives them any special power or virtue. I think women see their lives as mothers as an adjunct to their working lives – a fulfilling and important adjunct, to be sure – but something they do in addition to working in the public realm, not because being a wife and mother gives them a distinct edge in improving the world as we know it.
We (women) take it for granted that we can do what we want. Not so very long ago, that was not the case.