I’m a 32-year-old, single female communications consultant and I’m in the prime of my life.
If we had had this conversation a month ago, I would have complained about a few things. I would have moaned about demanding clients and tight deadlines. I might have bitched about how the men I date don’t understand how important after-hours networking is for my career. Last month, I may have touted over a glass of wine how important it is for women in our industry to support each other rather than compete so ferociously, but not really mean a word I was saying. A month ago, you would have heard, “My life is hectic, work is mad and I have no time for myself.”
Be grateful you’re not meeting that person today. She had no idea what she was talking about.
I was asked to help out with a friend’s kids while she and her hubby were both away on business. How tough could it be? Get them ready for school, get them home from swimming lessons, feed them, clean them and tuck them into bed. She left a schedule and some key contact numbers and off I went to play mom for a week or so. I had it all planned out. I would get them to school and head to work. Then I would do all the things I usually did:
• Check the news headlines
• Morning account status meetings
• Pitch a product launch campaign to client
• Lunch with a journalist
• Complete a post-campaign report
• Drinks after work with a new business prospect (which should translate to an RFP within the next week or so, if I played my cards right)
Then I’d get home, feed the kids and put them to bed before catching up on mails, updating my to-do list for the next day, replying to any missed mails and doing some environmental scanning for a motoring client.
In the words of Alicia Silverstone in Clueless – AS IF.
If I thought I had been working at full throttle before, I was about to experience a speed wobble.
Environmental scanning after dinner? Hell no. There was a project to complete about budgies (also known as parakeets) and homework to check. Lunch with a journalist? How can you have lunch when you know it’s the first hockey match of the season and you should be there to take pictures? Drinks after work? Are you mad? The house needs milk and the baby needs formula and you need to race home to find out how everyone’s day was before bedtime.
Why? Because small humans are without doubt the most inspiring and soul-lifting aspect of your day and you just can’t stop thinking about them. All that Hallmark stuff you read about children being like your heart outside of your body – it’s true. That is way more hectic than my single-work-gym-party-sleep-work schedule could ever be.
I have a new understanding of working moms and real respect for my mom colleagues and friends. The realities of maternity leave, working part time, early start/early finish or flexi hours are not a working mom’s perk. If anything, these are the most basic of concessions that the communications world owes to some of the country’s best public relations consultants. So, while your “mom colleagues” keep giving 110% in the office and at home daily, the least the rest of us can do is pick up and run with actions where needed or at least do the school run once a week.
I’m pretty good with kids, by the way – pick me! #WhyHaveMyOwn
Carly Ritz is a senior account manager at WE South Africa