‘Work it Out’ – with Vivian: The Guilty Mother 2
*Continued from last week*
So, I kept working, changed jobs twice and had a thousand and one episodes at work and at home. I felt guilty when a 9-year old girl in the compound violated my daughter at 3 years. I felt guilty each time I had to drop off my children at the creche when the house helps left without notice and I had to be at work. I felt guilty when we had to go pick them up from the minders’ homes very late at night as the creches’ official closing hours had long passed, and every other child had gone home. I felt guilty when I came home once to see my children locked up in the house and the house help was gone, leaving me an apology note. I felt guilty when the schools expressed concerns that my children’s homework were not properly attended to. Not only did I feel guilty, I always felt mentally and physically exhausted from all the burden.
I am lucky that I did not encounter worse, like some other working women whose gruesome stories I have heard.
My employers did not cut me any slack too. My career would go forward one step, and go back 2, go forward again 3 steps and go back 2 steps. Na wao, it was either a maternity leave or a fall-out with a manager or a (in a thick manly voice) “we are grooming you to be a leader, there is something big we are preparing you for; every leader has a story” bla-bla-bla (eyes rolling).
Many times it was very good too – having to drive new fields of innovation, the people, the brainstorming sessions, the diverse perspectives and solutions to issues, the technically charged up environment, the clients, the sales (the best!), the learning and networking opportunities, the public speaking and appearances that us look like stars, the hearty and long laughs at our individual mess-ups, etc.
But in all, I am yet to see someone who actually has it all. One or two things must give. So, one must prioritize one’s life’s goals and give the best to each goal in the order of priority.
As for my Father, for all the times I ran to him to tell my tale of troubles, he never said ‘sorry’. I could not understand it. He would rather turn the conversation to how I was not close enough to home, and his concerns that I may not be giving the utmost required motherly and wifely care. So, because my conversations with him always added more guilt and burden to my soul, I stopped telling him anything about my career.
So, I kept hoping to conquer the career world by force, and at the same time, magically have a perfect home free of troubles, but as I could not, I kept feeling inadequate every day. One thing was clear, I had a wrong picture in my head of what success meant – I let other people define it for me. And I kept postponing my own happiness and comfort, hoping I would arrive at that ‘destination’ where I called success…
I finally realized (can’t tell how, probably after I lost my father in 2013) that:
- The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world! I was actually conquering and changing the world already, by being a mom to my four children. It was God who gave me that title – a title greater than any executive title any person can have.
- One should not let anyone define one’s success. I now define my own success (and I succeed almost every day, and drink to it as often), chart my own course and happily keep on my lane.
- Our job as wives/ mothers is already a full time, highly pressured job, particularly during the periods of active child birth and when the children are very young. How does one manage two or three full-time, pressured jobs at a time? Something must give…
- I am still pursuing my television and career dreams (lol), but it has to be on my own terms. My kids are mostly independent now, but I am closer home, doing my God-assigned family duties, never feeling any atom of guilt and running my businesses/ growing my career on my own terms.
- I am strong and can take on quite a lot. But I monitor my body always and I never try to take on even the tiniest bit more than I am happy to handle at any point. I did not cause the problems of the world, neither can I resolve them all.
- I must be happy always, every day. Absolutely nothing can come in the way of my happiness – not even weight watching!