August 31, 2017

When Time Turns to Guilt

As I write this, I'm sitting on our patio, enjoying a good glass of red. My husband's got a cozy fire going and a delicious smelling curry, simmering on the stove. The kids are in bed, their food and bottles are prepped for the morning... and I literally have NOTHING.LEFT.TO.DO.

I also have absolutely no idea what to do with myself.

This is every working mom's dream come true right there.

But then why do I feel so guilty about it?

Surely I should be doing something?

As a working mom, "extra" time is something that almost doesn't exist. On the very odd occasion that you have a free hour, you manage to fill it with tasks or the luxury of an uninterrupted bath. Morning routines are structured to the second and unexpectedly having to stop and buy nappies on your way home can completely throw the bedtime routine you've worked so hard to get right, completely off course.

Time becomes a juggling act. If you're working, you feel guilty because you're not spending time with your kids. But when you are, you can't help but feel guilty because you're not working.

TIME IS A LUXURY.

It's why international agency BBDO, is rolling out a half-day programme for working mothers to try and counteract the drop off in experienced women who often pause their careers in an effort to "have the time" to be a mom.

Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank has launched a concierge service for 'soon to be' and 'new' moms. They will do anything for you... from planning your gender-reveal party to choosing a pram, ordering your breast pump... and even buying your groceries. While I get that the intention is good and that the aim is to help women stay and advance in their careers, I can't help but feel like it doesn't really address the real issue at hand.

Yes, I don't have the time to do everything ... but I also don't want someone choosing a pram for me. I don't want to leave it up to someone else to order my child's birthday cake... and I don't want someone popping into Woolies on my behalf to pick up an oven meal that I can pretend to pass off as my own. Yes, I don't have the time to do everything, but I don't want to lose this time... because actually... this is the only time I get to be a mom. I am a mom.

It's one of my many jobs. And I shouldn't feel guilty about it.

As women, we need to be celebrated and supported for the individuals that we are. We need to recognize the different roles that we play in our own lives and acknowledge that we're multi-faceted beings. We need to love that about ourselves.

We need to find balance.

Why do we feel guilty for not staying at work late because we have to go home and perform an equally as important job? And why do we feel obligated to stay at work later than we need to because we don't have the "responsibility" of having kids? (I mean, if you don't have kids you don't have responsibilities right?)

YES WE'RE EMPLOYEES. BUT THAT'S NOT ALL WE ARE.

We need to be proud of who we are - for all that we are, and all that we're not. We need to stop feeling guilty. We need to stop the "Sorry guys, I really have to leave. I'm going to get charged if I'm late fetching from aftercare".

We need to stop apologizing.

It's not just working moms who have multiple job titles. We all do. While some of us might be mothers, others might be taking care of theirs. Some of us are in committed relationships, and some of us are single... some lonely, some loving it. There's a lot more to us than the side you get to see at work. And these different sides are all equally as important.

I wonder if, in our quest to empower ourselves, we actually disempower ourselves on a very personal level. In our fight to prove that we're worthy of the corner office, we forget to fight about the things that actually make us who we are. We should be embracing our different roles and our own uniqueness - and the only expectations that should have any influence on our lives, are the ones that we set for ourselves.