Just a few days ago, I found myself dividing my attention between feeding my toddler and responding to colleagues that continuously pinged me onSkype for business. On a normal day it would be fine, but at nearly seven in the evening, all I felt was frustration. It saddens me to say that even after excusing myself to continue with our evening routine, I still received messages urging me to provide answers to things that could’ve been concluded the next morning. While I recognise that being a working parent is not meant to be easy – especially during this pandemic – this isolated event brought back several memories of less than acceptable situations that had previously left me shaking with anger.
Someone one said that I need to stop using my baby as an excuse to avoid social events. It is not an excuse when I say I need to feed, bathe or care for my little one. I’ve turned down team drinks and weekend parties because my daughter needed to be tucked in by seven, thirty. After leaving my child at daycare for about ten hours a day so that I can be both physically and emotionally present in the office, the very least I can do as a mother is spend an hour or two bonding with my her. I will not apologise for choosing to spend quality time with my family.
Someone once said that I need to stop “crying ‘baby'” whenever I am having a bad day. To that comment, all I can say is; you were not awake with me for hours on end changing my little one’s clothes every half hour because she would not stop hurling, You were not there when I sat by her bedside patting her down with wet towels as I tried to break her fever. You were also not there when I had to deal with the sleep regressions and night terrors when the rest of our team was asleep. Several times I’d gotten less than two hours of sleep and still took a shower, popped a Provigil, put on my poker face and showed up to work for another ten hour day. I will not apologise for being tired.
Someone once said that I am justifying every anti-feminist’s reasons for not promoting women in the workplace. It was not acceptable to ask me if I was in a relationship during a job interview nor was it acceptable to ask when I planned on having children. It was also not cool to comment on my postpartum body even if you thought you were complimenting me by saying I was an ‘assassin’. I care for my health and prioritise fitness because that is the way I choose to live my life – not to hear carnal comments from thirsty married men. It is not complimentary to know that while speaking about serious work related matters, you were observing my physical appearance in a sexual way. I will not apologise for my gender or the way I look.
Someone once told me to stop being dramatic. Pregnancy is not a joke, and though some women are able to go full term without even knowing they are pregnant, the majority of us won’t, Falling pregnant is a beautiful but life changing event for more reasons than one and just because it does not suit you to have a hormonal, achey and fatigued woman working with you, legislations have changed to allow women into the corporate world despite our wombs. During my pregnancy, I suffered from severe anaemia and extremely low vitamins D levels but still put my hand up for short term assignments and business trips. I remember almost fainting in the office then being put on bed rest, but I still came back to work. My husband was my rock at that time, but not every pregnant woman is fortunate enough to have such a supportive person by their side. .Although I tested my limits on several occasions, I was not able to perform at my best. I will not apologise for my neurological changes.
Someone once said that I am always sick. When a baby is born, their immune system is still underdeveloped and needs to be exposed to several pathogens in order to gain resistance. If you put your child in daycare, the likelihood of illness increases significantly. This one is a no brainer; leave a child with other kids and suddenly they are exposed to more germs and viruses than are present at home. Gabby went to daycare so that I could continue working and, just like clockwork, the illnesses just kept coming. You can run away from someone who sneezes so you don’t catch COVID-19, but do you expect me to turn my snotty toddler away so that my attendance register remains flawless? I’ve seen people sympathise with healthcare professionals who fall ill, but why is the standard different for working mothers? I will not apologise for being my child’s caregiver.
The list could definitely go on, but the message will still be the same – I will not apologise for being me!
Kanwaldeep Kaur says
You’ve struck the right chord Shelly! The best article I’ve read in a long time! I agree that people don’t have the right to judge, because they never walked our path! But what I’ve also learned over the years as a parent is that “No matter what, everyone will judge”! I’ve been judged for being a working mom (the reason is clear, not giving time to baby), also judged for being a stay at home mom (that I couldn’t balance my career and baby so gave up), and also as a work at home mom (she can do better than this)! So, my point is , I chose to be each one of these kind of moms when I felt like I needed to, but still was judged (sometime by the same people 🤦♀️). So I guess I’ve learnt to be deaf towards whoever is trying to make me a better mom or judging me for being one! Life is better if such people stop taking space in your head! More power to you! You are a wonderful mom 😊
Shelly DS says
Thanks a lot hun, you’re making me blush! You are so right in saying that people will always judge. It’s very sad to think that anyone actually believes they get a say in what’s right for ourselves and our families. It’s great you’ve learnt to deal with it… I thought I was also deaf to such comments but clearly need to empty out my bottle of emotions! Aaaargh 🥴
I could give you 5 thumbs up right now! LOVE this post! So true and honest, I feel a lot of the same things!
Shelly DS says
Aww thanks so much for taking the time to read this and give feedback! As mothers we get so much backlash and yet are expected to have enough patience to listen and be silent… I hope that you’ve been able to deal with the comments better than I have 🙈
I try!!! I really try to not let it bother me. We have to live the life we want! Even if some don’t agree.
I will not apologize! My role as a mom comes first! If I drop down dead I can easily be replaced in the workplace but my daughter only gets one momma! Loved this article!
Shelly DS says
<3 Absolutely! I find it very strange when people expect me to drop my mommy duties for something that is not critical… I guess priorities are different for everyone.
Sheryl Gim says
You do you! 🙂
Josephine Nerissa Leão Panzo says
It’s sad how people forget that we work to live and not live to work – it makes us incapable of remembering what our real priorities are and takes away from our humanity. I am glad you’ve chosen to stand your ground and be assertive about what you really think matters.
Shelly DS says
Very well said! I do think though that everyone’s priorities are different and we need to learn to respect that. I wish people would show the same curtesy.
Hilary Tan says
I also have a toddler. Wow – we seem to share a lot in common. When I was pregnant I had severe anemia and blood loss and almost needed a blood transfusion 😐 It’s been years since I’ve worked and I’m still trying to figure it the career thing. I get a lot of flack for being a stay-at-home mom.
Shelly DS says
Gosh, the anemia and blood loss must not have been fun! Being a stay at home is NOT bad at all, in fact I would give anything to be one myself and focus on things I truly love (blogging, exercise, etc) I think you should enjoy this time with your little one and forget what everyone else says because at the end of the day they don’t pay your bills 😉
I am yet to go back to work. I’m still on mat leave and enjoying my time with my little one but I can only imagine how tough it is to be a working mom! I’m also really concerned about going back to work and having to leave my kid in daycare because of fear that he will get sick a lot.
Shelly DS says
Thanks again for reading Krisna! It won’t be easy, but just remember why you’re working in the first place. Also, these are professionals who will stimulate your baby in ways that you probably aren’t, so it’s better for his development. If you still aren’t sure and don’t need to work, take more time and enjoy him because he’s only gonna be small for a little while 💖
That’s true, that’s a really good point. I’m still on leave for another several months so at least I don’t have to worry about that for a little while. 😆
Very heartfelt. The expectations that woman should continue as nothing ever happened is sometimes too infrequently discusses.
Also it sounds like to me that you have a very stressful and demanding job where the office culture is little but desirable. I hope you can find a new job where you are respected for having a life outside of work.
Shelly DS says
Thanks for your kind words hun 💖 As cut throat as it is, I’m not yet ready to leave my job to work for someone else. Maybe one day this blog will let me work for myself 😉