Tuesday, September 6, 2016 9:04 am
By Grace Essen
A few years ago my schedule weekdays required waking up 4.30am and quickly getting ready for work. Before I left I would take a look at my kids as they slept peacefully, said goodbye to my husband who also would be getting ready to leave for work. As I rush through the door, I would leave instructions for my then nanny on what to do, I must not miss the staff bus at 5:15am. I would get to the office at about 6.45am and call the house to get an opportunity to speak with my kids before they go to school at 7.30am. The rest of the day would be work, work, work until when I find 5 – 10 minutes to call the house later in the day to check on the kids and the home. At 8pm or thereabout I would leave the office and stay stuck in traffic for another 2 hours or more. When I finally get home at about 10, 10.30 or even 11pm, the kids would be fast asleep. I would sit by their bed to look at them and touch them, just to have a feel of what was going on with them. And this would continue the next day …
Not anymore. My schedule is totally different today. I wake up at 5.30am, I workout for about 30 minutes. I get my kid ready and take him to school myself. When I get back, I face my work which is mostly online. In between, I run errands for the home. The first schedule can easily describe me as a working mom. And the second schedule? Maybe a stay-at-home mom or work-from-home-mom.
Recently a former colleague and friend texted me on Whatsapp saying he had a question he had been meaning to ask. I waited. It took a while and then he asked, “Do you work somewhere or run your own thing?” I replied, “No I don’t work anywhere else, on my own”. Then he asked, “So what do you do???” Exactly that way, with three question marks! My phone had warned earlier that my battery was about to die and so I couldn’t respond immediately. I had to turn off data to conserve power to enable me at least take few calls.
First, I was a little surprised at the question because I had sought the advice of the same person on a few projects I had recently, and he still asked what I do? Wow! How much thought I gave to this very simple question showed just how tough it is for moms like me who don’t work in some big organizations, who don’t leave home early in the morning and come back late, moms who are building their own ‘thing’ from home, moms who are in transition to a new start-up or making a career change that will give them the flexibility they need to give more time to their families. Unfortunately the society sees women like that as ‘not doing anything’. Little wonder we need names to help describe us – like working moms, work-from-home-moms, stay-at-home-moms, momprenuers, etc, so we can feel a little better with ourselves.
You must have come across some write ups on social media most likely from moms who can’t hide their frustration at being seen as ‘not doing anything’. Here is one of such as posted on Facebook:
***What Do You Do All Day??A very heart touching message by a woman. Someone asked her, Are you a working woman or a housewife? She replied: Yes, I am a full-time working housewife. I work 24 hours a day. I’m a Mum. I’m a Wife. I’m a Daughter. I’m a Daughter-in-law. I’m an Alarm clock. I’m a Cook. I’m a Maid. I’m a Teacher. I’m a Waiter. I’m a Nanny. I’m a Nurse. I’m a Handyman. I’m a Security officer. I’m a Counsellor. I’m a Comforter. I don’t get holidays. I don’t get sick leave. I don’t get day off. I work through day and night. I’m on call all hours and get paid with a sentence. ***
It’s okay for women to put up such posts to argue the busyness of a mom. But I think we should focus more on building confidence in ourselves and in what we do so when we are asked what we do, we can respond like people who actually have something valuable to offer and not just argue about how busy we are all day. I did get back to my friend, and by the time we were done talking about what I do, he said, “Grace, you need a team!” Does that mean he was convinced I have something going on, more than I can actually handle? You bet!
If I still had my former schedule of 4.30am-to-10pm busyness, my friend’s question wouldn’t have arisen in the first place. Even if it did, I wouldn’t have blinked before responding. But then, I would never know what a woman like me has to go through to answer such a simple question. Ironically my schedule today is lighter, but my life is more purposeful and fulfilling. This I wouldn’t trade with my former life. Never.
Please share your thoughts with me. Thank you!
Check out Grace’s blog @Mum2MumAfrica.com
You may reach Grace on 08061367203, or via email: [email protected] Follow her on twitter @GraceEssen, friend her on Facebook.