…don’t think of working mothers as people who just leave office on time and do less than you. Think of us as people who have to try to do 48 hours of work in 24 hours.
It’s been half a year since I returned to work. As I gear up at work (not really by choice, but one should always have an honourable sense of responsibility), I find that I’m stretched thin when I try to be my best at home and at work.
It’s not just the past two weeks, but it’s a nagging guilt that I suppose every working mother carries.
I think I give myself a hard time too much and too unnecessarily.
I feel bad when I am home later than usual.
I feel bad saying goodbye every morning when Little Foot would sputter and burst into tears, try to reach for me, try to stop me from leaving.
I feel bad when I go do ” me things” like get a haircut after work instead of running straight home.
Heck, I feel bad even about slowly sauntering home instead of brisk walking home from the train station!
Imagine how bad I felt when I had to pry myself from her on Sunday morning while she was kicking up an epic tantrum, because I have to go be somewhere for work.
Some days I wonder if I’m the only mum in this world that beat myself over every second not given to my daughter. Maybe not.
As I grapple with my feelings and try to continue to keep work and life separate, I sometimes pause to ask myself “why am I making things so hard for myself?”
And I would remind myself that it’s ok to have “me time” it is ok to still want to excel beyond motherhood. Otherwise, there is no me left. I cannot simply be Little Foot’s mummy without also living for myself. My hopes, my aspirations, my needs and wants, they still matter.
To the other folks out there… don’t think of working mothers as people who just leave office on time and do less than you. Think of us as people who have to try to do 48 hours of work in 24 hours. We juggle, we struggle…sometimes we look like we aren’t putting in as much as you. I beg to differ if you think that way. We are just forced to become more effective and efficient. The work of a mother never ends. At 1am, we may be dealing with a kid awakened by nightmare. At 3am we could be dealing with a dirtied bed because baby puked… we have teething and fevers, flu and vaccinations to deal with. These things don’t make appointments with you. They happen whether a mother likes it or not.
AND we still reply the Whatsapp messages related to work at night, or boot up the laptop at odd hours to get some work done after the baby is asleep.
AND we still turn up for work the next morning (after dealing with a whole set of morning routine with the kid), grab a caffeine fix, and proceed to try to meet whatever deadlines we have, and look sharp at meetings. We would like to dream of our beds, but we don’t. We tell ourselves not to waste time thinking about the bed. Because then the unnecessary guilt kicks in and we say “Hurry up, get the work done. Baby’s waiting”.
We don’t bring our moods to work. Because moods and tantrums makes us less effective at work. And we know, we know there is always that one unmarried/childless colleague or boss who is lurking in the corner, waiting to see us trip up and think, “see, these mummies… they aren’t as committed, they aren’t as good….”. So we try harder than anyone else to be professional, because the odds are not in our favour.
Of course, there may be some working mothers who really don’t commit as much as the bare minimum, those are not the ones I speak for… I speak for those who are like me, trying to be the best on all fronts and always guilt-tripping ourselves unnecessarily all the time because, really we wish we could do more on all fronts. We’ve given up gym and spas and “chill out after work” sessions with colleagues, all so that we can give more to work and home. Think of us while you chill. Have a beer in our honour.
The road ahead as a working mother is long… somehow, I know things will pan out fine. Because when in doubt, I come home to hug my baby and let her smiles wash all my worries and fears away.
Every morning, Little Foot waves goodbye to me tearfully. A shot taken from the lift landing that peers into my balcony.
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