This blog post was written by mum of two – Pravesha Jaggeth.
Like millions of women around the world I made the decision to be a career women first, and once I found my footing I decided to get married and after 2.5 years we took the giant the leap into parenthood.
Having to return to work after just 5 months of maternity leave after each of my boys, I was filled with mixed emotions.
Do I leave my newborn with a nanny or at creche or do I quit my career and become a stay at home mum after all my years of studying or do I continue pursuing my career and try to balance it all?
Suffice, to say I chose the last option and returned to work and my career. As a new mum there were and still are those mornings I dread walking out that door, leaving behind a whaling baby.
I recall another mum in my circle often telling me that shortly after she leaves, the baby settles and gets on with the day. In some disbelief, I often hung around outside the door just to test this theory, and most times this theory was true.
As a career woman at the peak of my career and working for a large multinational, the working from home option presented many challenges.
I recall the times where I yearned for more flexibility and more time at home with my boys. I loved the thought of being able to fetch my oldest from school and going together to Mugg & Bean (his favourite). Or even just to be home early enough to get a head start on dinner. But this was not always possible, as my job is very demanding and largely office-based.
When South Africa entered into Lockdown Level 5 in March this year due to COVID-19, as scared as I was, I relished at the thought of having more time at home, bonding with my family, and not dealing with traffic and the morning school run.
Wow, that was a shock to the system, not only was I now working from home, but I took on new roles as well. Nanny, 24hour chef, maid, teacher and now even working stranger hours than usual due to trying to balance everything.
All this without the help of my parents who often flew to Johannesburg at the drop of a hat to support my family (as many ex-Durbanites like myself have very limited or no support structures in Johannesburg).
During the 1st few days of Lockdown, it was super challenging to put any routine into place. I found it even harder to balance all my roles at once, and still give 100% of myself to every role. Halfway through the lockdown, I found myself even more frustrated and angry…with everyone and everything.
What went from being able to spend more time with my family quickly turned into a game of hide and seek or cat and mouse, where I literally hid and crawled around the kitchen floor just to avoid my 19-month-old from seeing me and having a total meltdown. I remember spending most of my days locked in the study trying to balance homeschooling my 6-year-old and trying to meet my work commitments.
As heartbreaking as it was to leave my kids, especially my baby at home whilst I returned to work in level 4…nothing was more heart-wrenching than listening to him bang on the room door trying to get in, especially whilst I was in an online meeting at home. There were those moments where I would just want to take him in my arms and forget about all the other responsibilities I had, which was not possible. So yes, I did enjoy going back to work and I feel terrible for saying that sometimes. #MomGuilt
There were also those moments where all I wanted was to just run away because being locked in a room hearing my screaming baby was unbearable.
The truth about working from home during this lockdown also meant that many employees went above and beyond 8am to 5pm as we all feared that in this difficult time we all needed to prove our worth to our employers and save our jobs. As the stories of job losses in COVID hit countries flooded the news daily.
I found myself taking calls and answering emails at the strangest of times, struggling to put into place respectful boundaries with my employer so we both were able to balance our lives and meet deadlines.
The truth for many mums is that the moment we enter into the house, all our kids want is mummy, no daddy, no nanny, no toys, no sweet treats but just mummy, and this pandemic made that even more difficult as we now had a whole new sanitisation routine to follow long before we could take our kids into our arms at the end of a long day.
In all this pandemonium we have also opted to homeschool my 6-year-old until fears subside and we have some progress with a vaccine for SA.
So whilst all of this chaos is going on around me, and I am still dealing with the emotions and fears about this global pandemic and when and how this will end so we can resume life again.
I still have deep concerns about the long lasting effects that this pandemic will have on us emotionally and psychologically. I am still fearfull about about bringing home the virus due to my exposure not just from work but even a quick stop at the shops for essentials.
I still dread the thought that I won’t be able to self quarantine from my kids should I get infected with the virus, and having no family support in Johannesburg makes that thought even scarier.
Now as we enter Level 1, it’s time to start settling into a new normal both at home and work post a massive restructure and focus on the journey that lies ahead and take time to reflect.
I guess my point to this post is to say to all the working mums out there, that you are not alone, we are all in this together! We are all scared for our children, our families, and for ourselves and our future. We are all faced with having to make tougher decisions each day as the virus numbers increase worldwide.
I have gained so much more respect for all the stay at home mums out there…you are amazing and I admire your strength and tenacity.
We need to all stay safe and protect our loved one’s as best as we can.
So reach out to a friend, take a walk, and just breathe… because this too shall pass. You are not alone.
Ultimately let’s just count our blessings each day and be grateful for the life we have been given.
About Pravesha Jaggeth
Pravesha is a 37-year-old mum of 2 beautiful boys ages 6 and 2.
She’s a Registered Psychometrist by profession – she holds the position of Talent Acquisition Specialist at Scania South Africa. She has both a Clinical and Industrial Psychology Honours Degree.
Pravesha has dealt with a lot of trauma throughout her childhood, adolescence, and adulthood due to a severe motor vehicle accident she was involved in at the tender age of 18 months which left her paralyzed. It was with the grace of God and a miracle that she started walking at the age of 2.5 years old.
She aspires to open her own trauma centre for children that have been through a similar life journey as herself.
She lives by the moto that “Life is too short, to have any regrets.”