Sim shared with me a very good read today, a perspective on the age-old debate on being a Stay-at-home or a Full-time-working mum.
I think a lot about the kind of mum I want to be to the girls, and I want to be a lot of things, and too many things.
I want to be the care-giver, I want to ensure they eat right and sleep right, I want them to enjoy reading, I want them to love the English and Chinese language, I want them to be healthy and happy, I want to stay healthy for them, I want them to be and to feel safe, I want to be always here for them, I want them to understand the value of hard work, I want to be able to share my experiences with them, I want them to experience different cultures, to be well-read, to be well-travelled, I want them to be kind, I want them to have the grit and determination to achieve their goals..
And in many ways I hope to be the role model for all of these..
But it’s not easy.
I think a lot about my career these days, where I want to be, what I want to do, and how I can be both a mum who’s as present as she is inspiring.
I don’t have an answer yet.
Admittedly I feel like I’m stuck in a rut but I know I am probably the one who’s setting the trap up myself.
Coincidentally I attended a sharing session today by two female leaders on their experiences, how they integrate work and life and how they bring their true selves to work.
Both of them are mums – one with a kid and the other with five kids – and both of them hold VP level positions and travel a lot.
And they do all these while staying true to their values and what’s important to them.
One of the speakers is my current VP whom I report to and she shared about how her priority is her son.
She also shared how she’d made the choice to breastfeed her son for a year.. and to do that she worked out a schedule to breastfeed in the morning, go home during lunch time to breastfeed, and be home on time for the night duties.. while still delivering on her work responsibilities, making up for the hours by working in the evening.
Her boss was very supportive and she was very disciplined in her time management and priorities.
As a recently promoted VP she hesitated but decided to inform the President, how she couldn’t travel in a certain week because it was her son’s birthday and she had to be here.
The President changed his travel schedule to fit her availability in the end.
And so I’ve learned a few things today.
1. My company is still one of the better ones, even though I often say it’s not the same company I joined nearly 12 years ago anymore.
The bosses and the people who value their people and who understand the need to be flexible and to put family and personal interests first are still here.
I work very hard and very late from time to time, but my hours are more flexible than average.
For that, I am thankful.
2. You need to be disciplined in order to be flexible.
This sounds counter intuitive, but it makes a lot of sense.
If I have to leave work at 5pm, I need to be disciplined about time management. I have to complete the tasks I set out to do, on time. Or I have to plan to complete them when I’m done with mummy duties.
3. You gain more.. by letting go.
Another interesting anecdote my VP shared was how she was at Cannes with a fellow Marketing Director, and she was coordinating a play date for her son and husband while the MD did grocery shopping online to replenish the fridge.
And both of them paused to wonder why they were doing what they were doing, miles away in a different continent and a different time zone, when their husbands were right there with their kids in Singapore.
This made me laugh, because I do this all the time.
We’ve been primed, growing up, into thinking it is the woman’s responsibility to take care of the family and the kids, even as we share the load of supporting the family financially.
We need to learn to let go of certain expectations we have of ourselves and of others, so that we can do more of the things that matter more.
In my VP’s case, she learned to delegate some of these activities to her husband and letting him do it his way.
It is a fact that there are disproportionately less women in leadership or management positions.
Some organizations set goals and systems in place to increase the percentage of women in the leadership positions.
We know that men and women have equal calibre and are equally qualified.
Yet the numbers aren’t coming.. and a big part of the reason lies with women, ourselves.
We give up.
We give up because we think we cannot do it.
We give up because we think it means we cannot take better care of our kids and family.
We give up because we think it’s a choice and that there is only one option.
I guess the lesson here is: 1) Yes it’s a choice, but 2) No it’s not career advancement and personal goals OR family and kids. It is 3) Learning to let go of things that matter less so you free up your capacity to go after things that matter more.
It might not be for career advancement; it can be for other things like pursuing a hobby, or spending quality me-time to recharge.
I still don’t know what I want out of my job.
But at least I have a fresh perspective now, to keep discovering and defining who I am as a person, and to keep learning how to stay true to who I am while pursuing my personal or professional goals.
This entry is lengthy but it’s as far as my train of thought goes.. and it seldom gets this far or clear. 😂
Back to my little ones!
I didn’t know that my shoe bag is also used a luggage.
(Allie was dragging it round and round the house. 🤣)
And a stool.
Earlier this morning, I’d asked Clarissa to let me take a photo of her for a school application.
And she did this:
We laughed and told her, “Don’t need to pose!”
She started looking a little upset so I snapped a photo anyway and asked her to do one more without the flower hands.
And she might be right.
Who says school photos always have to be prim and proper?