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.