Sentences that indicate you've made it: "Never mind, I'll speak to my mum"
A few years ago I was sitting in a meeting, working while I waited for it to be my turn to present. The engineer sitting next to me asked me what I was doing - I said that in order to make it home in time before my children’s bath time, I had to work through every single free moment. He replied saying he preferred to not get home until after bath time.
Ever since I was a little girl, I was clear that I would have a professional career. Not long ago, a friend reminded me that when I got married I declared that having children wouldn’t be a barrier to success. Since my student days, I’ve worked both intense and long hours. I got my first managerial role during my first pregnancy, and I found myself working during my maternity leave.
My partner is also developing his own career, and neither of us is home very often. We live in a community settlement, and when my children were younger I used to hear people saying, “Oh, the nanny is raising her children!” A conflict arose - on the one hand you are expected to succeed professionally, and on the other you are expected to be a full-time mum.
It’s 2021, and many women still feel pressured by the demands of balancing their career and their family. Over time, this pressure can feel unrewarding and grind you down. While I was working at a big tech company, I saw so many women reach senior management positions, struggle with the pressure, and leave the company.
The good news is that the women who persevered over the years became highly-respected senior managers and leaders. They trained themselves to break the glass ceiling regularly and to become the best version of themselves, to solve problems creatively, to manage the pressure without breaking, and to always believe in themselves and their abilities.
This is a skill that is learnt slowly over time, and that gets tested on a daily basis. For example, when your nanny gets the call instead of you when your child is sick, or when your daughter draws your nanny when asked to draw her family at nursery. Or when people start to question how your children have turned out successful when you were barely at home with them.
So how did I manage to persevere? I surrounded myself with strong, capable women who had done it before me. You could say that they paved the way and made it easier for me. Because the ambiguity between professional and personal fulfilment doesn’t only arise in society, but at home too. When children are young, they want their mother close by; when they’re older, their mother’s career and success becomes a source of pride and inspiration.
My daughter wanted to complete her studies to the highest level in Maths, Physics, and Dance. When her teacher told her it would be too much and she would fail, my daughter told her, “Never mind, I’ll speak to my mum”.
The only way to succeed is to know how to differentiate between the important and unimportant things. I knew it was important to read to my children before bed, to play games and to listen. To be able to do this with patience and understanding, I knew I had to outsource the necessary housework. Even if it required spending a substantial amount of money. It was a long term investment; in my family, my career and myself.
My message to mothers is to involve your children. Make sure they know what you do and your contributions as this will empower them at the end of the day. For me, children and family life are what allows me to grow and does not hold me back.