Today, I would like to chat about the supermom versus super-employee contradiction that so many of us face in our daily lives.
I am a ruthless career-crazy person that is extremely committed to my career and work. That is the person whom my husband married and even though we have children, I always pledged that my children would not stop me from being a great employee to any company.
So then, my second child was born 5 years ago and suddenly our easy-living came to a turn-around… My son was in and out of hospital 6 times in one year. His first double pneumonia was when he was only 3 months old. That, plus a bad case of asthma and a few diarrhoea germs kept me awake for many a night. But, I went to work every day and I organised my life so that I can still work on my career. So how did I do it? Lots of support from my hubby, who took turns to look after my healthy child at home or sleeping next to my son in hospital.
Then, after the first year of my son’s life, we started settling down, as we knew how to handle the situations when he had an asthma attack and we knew what to use as preventative medicine, etc. My husband then also started his own business at that stage, so sick children could stay at home with him for a day if we had no other solution.
Only this year, when my daughter, who never gets sick, caught a bad flue germ, I noticed again how difficult life could be if you are focussing on your career and your child is sick. My husband was busy with a big project that was at the hand-over phase and he could not take time to stay at home. At my company, we just started getting things right and I had to keep my hand on the progress daily in order for us to move forward. I then stood in front of the choice: Leave my sick child in school and let her suffer, or take her to the doctor, which meant time away from work and possibly collapse of hard work that I have concentrated on for many weeks before then.
As a manager, I also try to set the example that one don’t just stay away from work, otherwise I might have an absenteeism problem later. So I went into work, but my conscience kept on telling me that my sick child is at school! From 7 o’clock in the morning I worked as hard as I possibly could and at 9 am my conscience shouted so loud that I phoned the doctor in my home-town, which is about a 30 minutes drive from where I work. I did this, because I thought they won’t be able to accommodate me and then I would also have an answer to my conscience that was constantly telling me that I am a bad mother… The doctor could see us in 45 minutes, so I took it as a sign from God that I needed to go. I picked my child up from school and took her to the doctor, which indicated that she was so sick that she had a very bad chest infection and needed to stay at home for at least 3 days. So much for slipping away to take my child to the doctor!
I then picked up her meds from the local chemist and drove home with the mindset that I will work from home for the next 3 days. I mailed my directorate and explained what I will do because of my daughter’s illness. Guess what, I was able to look after her, stay at home and do my work and I successfully continued with the progress on my work. I even joined in on a few teleconferences and Skype meetings.
The above experience made me realise that there are many moms out there that lives within this space and we don’t have to choose between being super-mom or super-employee. With a little bit of effort any woman can do both!