I am getting to the end of the line for this school year, and I am excited to be putting an end to it this coming Friday. It shows in my writing. I started a really good (or so I thought) article on managing people a week ago and completely forgot or lost the strength to finish it. And then I had a blank. What do I want to write about this week? Shall I skip for the first time? Really, all I can think of is this working mum guilt and domino that I am under at the moment. But there is light at the end of the tunnel – the summer (the real one) is coming.
Refreshing an old view
As I searched for inspiration in my old blog, I concluded in fact the theme was decided. Here is a piece of me in September 2017, 1 week after going back to work as a working mum after Baby S, no edits.
“Back to domino stage.
Wake up, commute, first glimpse at work, breakfast at desk, meetings, work, thinking, work, meetings and more meetings, watch out for the clock. Missed the first deadline for school pick-up, missed the second deadline to arrive home at 6, it is past 6 and I still don’t have my jacket on. Commute, home, hugs. Too late for smiles, it is tantrum time. Bath, dinner, bedtime (short story) bitter sweet taste of having time for myself. They are asleep, I am awake. This is the domino, it is back and haunts me. Nothing can break, or the pieces will fall.
I am breaking the schedule now by writing, it is charity time, or admin time, not time to write. That comes off the script. I gave that up a long time ago. I carry with me the beginning of the different books, I write down the ideas for the different blogs in notepads, even the blogger application is against me as I can no longer blog on my phone. I want to write. Write about this. Write about my passion in business, in the world. But it is choices we make. None of us can do it all. We just have to focus on doing it over time, and be pleased with the immediate achievements.
21.30, one hour to go. In one hour, bottle, nappy, alarm clock and bed. No time to waste, read or more. The show must go on. “
I disagree with me
I got tired reading this. But I feel every bit of it in my bones as the mirror of feelings I keep away every single day. Last week, I was invited to mentor a new promising VP at the Firm. I met her today and the conversation inevitably led to the topic – having kids and careers and how can one be a working mum. Arguably, I claimed that women can have it all – just not every day. But over time. You can’t measure your achievements in everything that you value in a single day, but rather over the period of a quarter, or a month, depending on what time horizon gets you comfortable.
I explained to Tais, her name was, how these choices are made, and also how they evolve over time. How things that got me mummy guilt no longer do (like not cooking every meal) but others still do (like not waving her off her school trip). It actually changes every day and that is what people need to be aware when they go into the domino (or jenga if you prefer) of working motherhood.
Yes, it does feel like a domino most days, and pieces cannot fall or everything falls apart. But I have learnt better these days. I chose the pieces in my domino, sometimes I take some out and break some connectivity, so if something falls it does not all fall. And you know what, sometimes it does, but it’s ok to rebuild and pick up some pieces. And sometimes pieces got added when you least expects and it all gets very jammed. It’s called life and I have learnt to appreciate it. So when people tell me I must have super powers, I may not gleam with pride (that would be unlike me) but I no longer dismiss them with impostor syndrome of all the things I fail and they don’t know about. I am a somewhat proud working mum- most days, not all days.
Refreshing the prospects for working mum
I told Tais we could all do it and that she too could be a working mum, but it requires choices, and requires a true partnership between Mum and Dad. The more I read the book Raising Girls the more I know that it is only through a true partnership that we can get there. And the more I read the book I also confess that there is a great level of concern about the long list of things I have to do not to turn my daughter into an addict-self-hard-anorectic-only-online-friends-lacking-love-teenager. But I know we can do it, especially if we keep it all in perspective.
Have it all all – but not in one day!
I told her we could do it as long as we did not want it all every day and as long as we were willing to find out what made us happy as Mums (rather than what makes society happy).
I told her we could do it as long as we were willing not to be perfect but intentional.
And for the last 2 years, I believe this is working out increasingly better, despite the occasional tears when I leave the house of the morning, which is inevitably followed by a message by Hubby B saying how happy they are and them sending me voice messages with kisses. The inexplicable ability to cry and laugh all in one. Oh motherhood!
It’s time to break
No matter how many superhuman powers you may have, real stops are important. And we all know how Mums really never stop. Holidays can often be more exhausting, especially if you chose not to have help, as I often do so. Or if you try and work and be a super mum and super-daughter-sister-aunt all in the same week.
So breaking for holiday is important and I plan to use a considerable amount of time to reset and forget all the things I did not do. Then my brain can start putting together a new colorful domino for the rest of the year. Summer time, here I come.