When I first started working, I liked to be at my office early. I liked the quiet and the ability to work uninterrupted. I would often put in a 12-13 hour days and would work on the week-ends.
But there has to be more to life than work.
After I got married, I continued to work the same hours or longer during the week but on the week-end, my husband and I were enjoying spending time together. We both had demanding jobs, but wanted to have time together.
This was the time for us.
And then we got pregnant and all of a sudden, I was in and out of medical appointments and towards the end of my pregnancy, I was having weekly appointments. And when you are pregnant and leaving for appointments, no one dares to comment, so life continues.
But then I was on maternity leave and having a busy legal practice meant that I had to stay connected with clients to ensure that I had clients to return to when my maternity leave ended. And so often, I was doing a telephone meeting, with one baby (I had twins) who refused to sleep during the designated nap time. And the guilt slowly starts to seep in. You feel like you are letting everyone down, and no one is thinking this but you (hopefully)!
And during my maternity leave, we decided to move from the City to the suburbs which meant that my commute time was going to be more than doubled. And the ability to be at the office early, was no longer. I was now governed by a new schedule, taking into account my commute to work and ensuring that my day included time with my kids. And so to make it home for 6pm and take over childcare, I started that early departure from work at 5pm. And everyday, I would try to leave without drawing any attention to my departure and would pray that no one would look for me or need me for something. It starts to drain on you, this daily covert exercise.
I have read that many mothers enjoyed not having to deal with this part of their day, as a result of the pandemic and working from home and I totally understand and relate. And I am sorry – but this is still a female issue. If a male colleague leaves early for childcare or to take children for an extra curricular activity, they are still revered for being great dads. On the other hand, when a woman has to leave early, the sentiment expressed in the Corporate world is – this is why you try to avoid hiring young women or mothers – because they always leave early, their kids constantly need them – you name it!
And now, I am at a stage in life where my kids are older and more independent, but still need us for key things. Due to the pandemic, we no longer are receiving assistance in terms of childcare and my husband is the superstar who is taking them to and from school and we are sharing the responsibilities at the house. In the mornings, my girls, who have long hair, still need help doing their hair. Because of this, I get into the office (switched to an office closer to home), still later than I would like. However, I no longer skulk into the office trying to hide the fact of when I get in. And I am no longer feeling guilt for spending time with the kids in the morning. Because in 1 or 2 years, when the girls are able to do their hair on their own, I will be able to move my timings up and might be in the office earlier.
And so for this period of time, which in the grand scheme of life, is short, I am no longer feeling guilt for leaving work to make it home for whatever activity they have or to deal with….whatever. Because in the blink of an eye, they will be out of the house, moving forward with their lives and I never want to be in a position looking back, wishing I had made time with them, activities with them – just anything… more of a priority. I don’t want to have those moments. And so, I have come to that understanding with myself, that this is where I am, at this period of time and like anything, it changes quickly – you have to adapt.
But that’s just one Diva’s view!