The past few months have been interesting. I’ve been working full-time, sometimes more than that. And all that I feared would happen, has happened. Kids have fallen sick, maids have gone on leave, weekends have been awash with work. Yes, I am quite the working mom now and it’s amazing how I have slipped into that role like I was always doing this. The truth is five months ago I was your typical stay-at-home-mom, quite reconciled (if grudgingly) to the idea of never setting foot in an office again.
And how dramatically that’s changed.
I know I’ve said this before, but I am already facing a lot of pressure – mostly from myself. So on the back foot am I that I feel I have to constantly prove something – that I am serious about my work; that women who return to work after a hiatus may not be able to ace power point presentations, but they do add a lot of value to a company. And in my blind wish to prove this I have gone and done something that I now find impossible to get out of – I have poured cold water all over the negotiations that I made when I joined work – that I would leave at 4 and work flexi. Not only do I not leave at 4, I also had a washed-out weekend where I worked flat out for a deadline, while my younger twin lay next to me with high fever. On Sunday night at 11:30 when she finally looked at me with watery eyes and asked me if I had the time to lay next to her, something in me snapped. I know there are good days and bad days and I was determined to not let anything get in the way of me proving myself – but when I saw her tiny face, all I could think of was the fact that she needed me. I sent off one last slide to my boss and shut my computer down. I was tired. And I thought about how much my life had changed.
I guess this was a test, of sorts. To try and work when you have a sick child tugging at your clothes. I did it, but with a lot of guilt. But, guess what, when I shut my computer, the guilt did not vanish – it merely shifted base – to work. I wondered if my boss would think I was shirking work – the fact that I worked the whole weekend with a sick child was not enough I guess. And I didn’t even want to tell my boss that my daughter was sick – because, in this flu season, my kids have been falling sick one after another and I didn’t him to think that it would affect my performance.
Anyway, long story short – the basic point I am trying to make is that a working mother has to constantly shift gears – from work to home and back to work, and to home again. It’s a constant cycle and I am still getting used to it. I am trying my best to do both, but there’s always guilt – of leaving the kids, of leaving work – that I haven’t been able to escape. And I doubt I ever will. It’s a woman thing.
5 responses to “From Kids to KPIs”
I think it’s also a question of who becomes the default parent, which usually women are. So I’d qualify “it’s a woman thing” with “it’s usually a woman thing.” When both the husband and I were working, I found much more equal distribution of labour with regards to the kids, though when the kids were sick they tended to cling to me. However, now that I have flexible hours, I’ve becomes quite obviously the default parent. I’ve snapped at the husband a couple of time when it is just assumed that if it’s related to the kids, it’s my department. However, to be fair, I do have the time now to take on the bulk of this stuff, I just want him to keep his hand in.
I agree that it’s about who is the default parent – but (and I know there are exceptions) what I meant to say about guilt was that women tend to feel it easily. And it’s complicated I guess, because a sick child tends to cling to the mother which is why maybe the father feels less guilt if he’s working while the child is ill. But the fact is that men can compartmentalize their thoughts and actions a little better. Women want to be best at everything – at home and at work..
This was really great to read. Im only about to stop working, and it was a hard decision for me to put my career on hold to have a year off and be a stay at home mum. Now I’m really excited for the change, but its nice to see you getting back into it, and being honest about how hard it is.
All the best, keep up the great work and i’ll definitely be keeping this post in mind when i head back into the work force after my first child.
Hi. Thanks a ton for stopping by, reading and taking the time to comment. I know this is the quandary every woman faces – but what I’ll say to you is to get back as soon as you can and stay in touch while you are away. For each year you spend away, it gets that much tougher to make your way back. And employers will exploit the gap in your resume to “negotiate” terms with you..
Thanks for the tip. Will keep that in mind!
We actually get up to 10 days paid when on maternity leave to come in and have discussions around return to work plans or just “keeping in touch”.