With barely a moment to pause for breath between the office to-do list and the at-home childcare duties, the good news is that the best years of a balanced life are still to come, as told by Stacey Vee...
I don’t want to be the mom who pulls into the school’s parking lot, tyres squealing, one minute after closing time. All fluttering, flustered apologies and white-knuckled from driving the entire 18km from her office to the school in second-gear in peak-hour traffic. I don’t want my sons to look back on their childhood and remember being the last kid to be fetched from school.
Raise your hand if you’re reading this and you know what I mean.
So this is what my afternoons look like these days:
I save the admin-type stuff on my To Do list for the lunchtime slump, ticking all the “email that guy re: that thing” items off in my fake Moleskine. Small wins to make me feel like I’m getting somewhere with my day until my energy levels pick up.
By 3pm I’m lost in some complex task, doing planning or strategy work that requires a level of critical-thinking that I find deeply satisfying.
By 3.30pm my mug of Earl Grey is ice-cold and you have to set off fireworks in the office to get my attention. Actually, the fireworks come a few minutes later as I leap up from my chair and start stuffing my laptop and charger cables and purse and keys, and dammit-where-is-my-access-card into my bag and race out to my car.
I have to leave the office at exactly 3.30pm if I am going to make it to Travis the Lionheart’s school to fetch him from aftercare on time. When I get home at 5pm with Travis in tow, I’ve tried hard to hold onto the threads of what I was concentrating so intensely on just a little while earlier. But I am lovingly mobbed by little people, and it’s almost impossible to squeeze in another half an hour of work when you have a toddler telling you that his stuffed Eeyore has a sore ear and another telling you that he learned a new letter: Oscar Orange. That’s the letter “o”, by the way.
I love my work as much as I love my kids. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit I feel resentful (or sometimes flat-out depressed) when I have to switch gears to focus on childcare when I’m still excitedly plotting out paid media budgets and inbound marketing strategies. As each year goes by, I cling more fiercely to my job, because it’s how I maintain my identity in the blur of parenthood.
Raise your hand if you’re reading this and you know what I mean. Then I stumbled across this amazing article by Wall Street wonder woman Sallie Krawcheck, simply titled: “What they don’t tell you as a working mom.”
The gist of it is this: dear working mom, what if someone told you that the best years of your career are still ahead of you? Not just the best years of your career, but a career renaissance? Think on it a moment between packing schoolbags and completing timesheets.
The best is yet to come.
What happens once your kids are out of the house, going to varsity, setting out on career paths of their own? What are you going to do with all that free time? I’ve never really thought about that.
I’m too distracted by First Tooth, First Time Sleeping without a Nappy, and First Sleepover with Friends. The milestones I use to measure time in this phase of my life. And as much as I’m enjoying motherhood, I also yearn for milestones of my own. Milestones to measure how I am growing as a person and a professional.
So here’s a new milestone, one I never knew existed: 51. That’s how old I’ll be when my last child starts university. And because retirement age will probably move to 70 in the next couple of years, that means I have a whole two decades of my career. Two decades!
This is for all the ambitious, career-driven mothers who’re in the long, dark teatime of toddlerhood and wondering when you get to be you again. The best years of your career are still coming. Hang in there.
• Stacey Vee has worked in the media for close to 20 years, runs a charity, and is the writer of SA’s most potty-mouthed blogs – it’s about parenthood, obviously. When she’s not running her small agency, Stacey is collecting second-hand iPads for families with autism, competing in a sport she calls ‘stress-baking’ – because who can feel anxious while licking a spatula coated in chocolate cake batter – and kissing better the ouchies of her three devastatingly handsome sons: Travis the Lionheart, Ryan and Oliver. Stacey calls the city of Jozi home. She once smiled down on the N1 traffic from a billboard on Rivonia Road for a couple of months. It’s a long story.
• This article first appeared on the Change Exchange, an online platform by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes. The opinions expressed in this piece are the writer’s own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BrightRock.