It wasn’t that long ago when I thought to myself that people with kids had it easy. They even got special privileges. I don’t mean that in terms of a tax credit or getting to fast track the line at Disney with a baby in tow. I’m referring to the work place – all the co-worker parents who’d leave early for their kid’s doctor’s appointments, soccer practice, school field trip or parent teacher meetings. Those “I’m working from home today because my kid is sick” privileges.
To the inexperienced, kid free me it seemed like once you had kids you were automatically enrolled in this club of kid related acceptable excuses.
Now. I’m a Mom. A full time working Mom. As you can imagine, my opinion has changed … drastically!
I think back to all those times I thought working parents had such privileges and want to smack myself! This past year has been a real challenge for me juggling the needs of my son and the needs of my boss/clients/co-workers … and this is only just the beginning!
The struggle is real. The prejudice is even more real.
I realize now all the personal sacrifices that have to be made to compensate for being a working Mom. Vacation time is no longer the luxury of taking time off to get away, recharge your internal batteries or visit far away friends and family. Vacation time is now reserved for more critical matters, like taking your kid to the doctor, caring for them when they are sick or, god forbid, caring for yourself when you are sick! Vacation time has 10 times the value now than it ever did to me pre-kids and now, as we approach the end of year cold and flu season I’m a little panicky looking at my reserve and pray we are spared … or at least can make to the new year (and an all new bank of hours) without major incident.
I’m very fortunate for my job, which enables me to earn my living from a home office. While I am spared a typical commute, I still have the obligation of taking my son to daycare each morning before returning home to start my work day. Punctuality has never been my strong suit and now that I have a toddler in tow – well, those who have been here know exactly what it’s like to try to wrangle a kid in the morning to get dressed/eat/into the car. Those who don’t – imagine trying to dress an unruly octopus, fed him and then strap him into a car seat all while wearing 50lb ankle weights!
Once upon a time my company touted phrases like “Life-Work balance” … this was long before I had a kid and I didn’t really didn’t give it much thought. I mean, I never enjoyed working 60-70 hours a week, but I enjoyed my job, I was appreciated for the work I did and I didn’t have to prove myself or my work ethics. But now that I’m a Mom and I have additional responsibilities I have learned the importance of a Work-Live balance and more importantly having a supportive management team – who can empathize, or at least understand the struggles, who recognize my value and judge me fairly based on my work performance and not on my perpetual tardiness. I work hard. Every. Single. Day. I don’t often get breaks and when I do they consist of making myself a healthy lunch or taking a shower and actually having the time to do my hair or put on an outfit that isn’t the 1st thing I see in the closet, something that makes me feel like I am still a part of society.
It’s so easy … as I once thought … to manage a career/home/family. And it certainly can be if you don’t need to sleep, eat, exercise or retain some level of sanity 🙂