I’m A Working Mom & I Will Fail

The company I work for is busy with financial year end. As an account manager, this means that the pressure is really on for me to maximize sales in the last few days of this month. I have wheeled and dealed to make things happen. I’ve pulled in favours and used my relationships to the max. The pressure is on.

So on Tuesday I needed to work late. And this is where my lack of a “village” becomes a problem and it’s during times like these that I feel I fail everyone who depends on me, my husband, my children, my employer. My family live in Cape Town, so I have no village to call on there. My husbands family live far away and they all work, so I can’t call on them. My friends work and have their own families to see to. I landed up sitting at my desk with tears streaming down my face, hoping that nobody would notice me while I tried to juggle the pressure of financial year end and work out a plan of who could fetch Ava from school, be there for both girls after our nanny knocked off for the day and feed and care for my girls till I could get home.

I rarely work late, only when I need to. I don’t go for drinks after work with my colleagues, I try to leave work on time every day, I guess I am a bit of a clock watcher, not because I’m trying to be stingy with my employer, but because I have responsibilities at home. There are extra mural activities, dinners that need  to be prepared, time spent with my children, bathing, feeding, nurturing, pets to be cared for. And I take those responsibilities seriously, they are my number 1 priority.

So on Tuesday, as the hours ticked by and colleagues left in dribs and drabs, to go home, to go out for drinks (which I never get invited to because, well because it’s simply not possible for me to attend because of my other responsibilities so no one ever invites me)  and I was frantically trying to catch up on my work load and maximize my turn over for company month end, I felt the sting of their remarks, the flippant jokes about me being there late… “Sharon, are you lost? Sharon, have you forgotten how to go home?” Those comments told me perfectly what they thought of me, clock watcher, uncommitted, never willing to go the extra mile.

Being a working mom is hard. It requires sacrifice. It requires juggling so many balls that from time to time, they do all drop. It requires that I fail at times. I cannot be what my employer needs me to be, who I used to be circa motherhood. I cannot sit at the office till late at night, I cannot go out for drinks, I have to watch the clock and manage my time carefully. I fail my children when I have to make work a priority over them, when I can’t be home on time to feed them, bathe them, nurture and spend quality time with them. I fail my husband when I need him to pick up the slack and manage my responsibilities, when I can’t make dinner or care for our children and he has to step in, regardless of the pressure he’s under.

And I realized while thinking about all of this that being a working mom means I will fail. I will fail someone, I can’t be everything to everyone, I can’t be a star employee, I can’t be the perfect home maker, mother and wife. That I have to sacrifice plenty of who I am, of what’s important to me and parts of me to keep juggling all those balls. Sometimes, like yesterday, I feel overwhelmed by all the responsibility, I feel like I lose a little part of me while trying to be something to everyone else.

But I’ve realized that that is part of what motherhood is. Regardless of whether you’re a SAHM or a working mom. We all make sacrifices, we all lose a little of ourselves along the way, we can’t be everything that everyone needs us to be all of the time.

Now if I could only just learn to accept that, to be kinder to myself and to ease the pressure I put on myself, life would be so much easier.

But right now…. I’m drowning a ball pond of all the juggled balls I’ve dropped.


  • mozzie01

    July 31, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Could I just copy and paste this whole story as my Facebook status update please?!?!? I hear you, am going through the same thing, and feel for you. I really really do. Sending love and strength…xxxx

  • Immeasurable love

    July 31, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Shaz, I get it! We have been in this situation and been penalized for it twice. Last year I went for an interview and didn’t get the position simply because I was honest. When asked if I was willing to work loads of overtime I simply stated that I am, but my family will always come first! Then earlier this year hubby was asked to work late at the office. He couldn’t because J had to be collected and I was in Dubai. He was told that he had a bad attitude, even though he collected our son and continued to work until midnight at home. We win some we loose some!

    I am also finding that there is a lack of understanding in some of my relationships. People without kids don’t get that I can’t sit at a pub on a Friday night! And I have realized that these seem to be the terms required to keep the relationship going. In my eyes…..if those are the terms I sacrifice the relationship because my son is more important.

    On a side note, I am always will to help out with your kiddies if I can. xxxx

  • Jessie

    July 31, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Since I started working full time 2 months ago I have felt like this every single day! I finish work at 5, I get home at 6 meaning I can’t fetch Aiden my sister or mom do, I get an hour with him before bed time which is a mad rush of making dinner and bath time and I try squeeze in a story before his bed time. I am tired and irritated and work after Aiden goes to bed as I have to work 2 jobs as a single mom so I am not the “nicest” mom most of the time. I fail daily. I feel like a bad mom daily. I don’t know how some woman make it look so easy. I can’t afford a maid or nanny but luckily I have a family that right now can help me. Who knows what I am going to do next year when my sister goes to varsity and my mom starts working full time again.

  • Gaelyn Cokayne

    July 31, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I don’t work full time, and I only have Zoe every second week, so I really can’t understand what you are feeling. However something I can say is that sometimes your children need you not to be there. Sometimes husband needs to do those things you normally do. Sometimes not having you there when they expect you to be, is a good push for them to discover their independence. Be kind to yourself, you’re doing a great job!

  • dummymommy

    July 31, 2014 at 11:13 am

    WOW how I can relate to everything you’ve written. It’s so tough to juggle everything and the guilt of going to work never seems to go away. Hope things ease up for you after year end. x

  • Mrssee

    July 31, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Feeling like a failure only makes you more stressed out. As long as you are doing your best at work and your best at home, no one can ask any more of you. Sometimes I work late and Dave picks up the slack. Sometimes it is the other way around. That is the way of a partnership and I honestly don’t think that Mark is getting the raw end of the stick as long as one of us is there for him. But I must say, my employer does get it, so I am lucky in that regard.

  • Liz

    July 31, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Every word here resonates. I have never, ever taken for granted the village I have (parents and siblings less than a km away, husband who works from home), and often feel as if I’d flounder desperately without them.

    One thing a very wise editor I used to work under said, which made me think of how you work: this idea that you need to be at your desk past five pm to be seen as “effective” or “doing your job” is absolute nonsense. It becomes a competition – “oh, I pulled an all-nighter yesterday”. She made it very clear that in her mind, if you’re managing your time wisely, you should be out of there at the same time each day (peak or crisis times aside, of course), and she didn’t tolerate people sitting in the office ’til all hours. She also said it was the people with families or home responsibilities who realised this, because they didn’t waste time during the day in order to make sure that they could be home at a reasonable hour. So actually, I would take you leaving at a decent hour as a sign that you’re an excellent employee, who knows how to work effectively.

    • Genna Hansen

      July 31, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      I can soooo relate Sharon! Had this yesterday as I was struck past the airport at the time I should of been home for my baby and my nanny, so she can go to her family! I was in tears the whole way home… It’s so hard, all the time, and I don’t have any answers but I know that my son will feel my love every second I can be at home! ps: Liz, I love that sentiment to working effectively! I believe in it 100%, I have it currently and it’s an amazing thing 🙂

  • Adele

    July 31, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Jip, I think all moms can relate. Earlier in the year I requested flexi hours from my bosses and they were unwilling. I then made an agreement to help them while on “maternity” leave with A and once that was over to do flexi if possible. When I started handing back files after the time was over, then they were willing to give me a half day position. So after about 5 months they gave in and now I am halfday. Still the same issues occur, but at least gives me some time with my kids….

  • laurakim

    August 1, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I think you need to not look at is as failing. Instead when you leave on time you are WINNING at being a mom. When you stay late you are WINNING at being an employee. YES both times someone gets less of you but that’s kinda life regardless of whether you work or stay at home. You are one person doing the best you can and that IS ENOUGH!

    REMOVE the word fail – it has too many negative connotations – you don’t need that in your life!

    Go WIN and being a working mom xx

  • Correen

    August 1, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Thank you for posting this. Every word you typed felt like it was me typing it this past week. No close families, relatively new in Jhb so very few friends and all of them living 30km+ away and with work schedules of their own. “No village”, you said it so nicely. I said to my husband just yesterday that I feel like I’m a failure in the 3 big parts of my life (wife, mother, career) EVERY DAY. I have a senior position in our company, but start work at 6:00 so I can leave at 15:00 and get comments every day. By the time hubby gets home at 19:00 I am so exhausted dealing with an over stimulated, clingy and tearful tantrummy toddler for 3,5 hours while preparing dinner, exercising the dogs and cleaning up the house, all with no backup, that I totally fail in the “WIFE” category.

    I have made resolutions to leave work 30 mins later from next week onwards, at least for a couple of days a week, and going to gym or running the other days (just to have some alone time and recharge), therefore picking up my daughter 45 mins later than usual. But I already don’t think I will be able to keep this resolution, due to mommy guilt.

    My conclusion is, mommy guilt is worse than clock watching guilt!

  • Robyn

    August 4, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    DITTO! DITTO! DITTO! They call me the half day worker at work. But I am the first one here, even though I leave at 4! I put in my hours, my work is up to date, I earn my pay and THEN I go home at a reasonable hour to start my second (and most loved) job. I am grateful that my helper lives on the property so she is my “village” but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with my kids every evening. Of course I do. I don’t look at it as a failure if I cannot meet everyone’s needs.. what I forfeit in quantity, I make up tenfold in quality! We are still the best moms and wives for OUR families!

  • Sam

    August 5, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    I honestly believe that you can do the best you can and somewhere along the line everyone will win. There are always going to be sacrifices in life. It just is what it is. For me as much as I love my JOB its not about the career for me anymore. I will always give of my best at work but my family comes first – always! Thankfully everyone on my team has small kids as well so we all have a similar thought process in regards to working hours and overtime.


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