There have been times since becoming a parent when people have asked me about my decision to work full time instead of being a stay home Mum to care for the boy, after which the inevitable question of the maintenance of the delicate balance of career and family life will come about.
"How do you manage?" - which usually refers to how I handle the guilt feelings or work through the events of the day while not compromising my role as a mother.
I believe that I've managed to maintain a semblance of sanity so far by not thinking too much about things. I go through some of the day's routines in an almost zombie like trance... because that's the only way I can conserve some of my brain cells for work, and have some left over for play. It's only when you start calculating the hours of the day and try to think, do or plan too much into it that you start questioning yourself - along with the others who wonder how you're able to do an effective juggling act.
The breakdown of a typical work day for me, usually goes like this:
The phone alarm rings, and I fumble around trying to hit the snooze button.
I allow myself an extra 4 minutes of snuggling against BabyMoo's warm body... and he grasps my arm in his sleep. It's funny how those extra minutes can make you feel like you have slept an extra hour or so!
I jump into the shower and get ready for the day. When I get out of the bathroom, Daddy and BabyMoo is still asleep - and I'm sorely tempted to go back under the covers.
I change the boy out of his pajamas, and he's not too happy about it. He's really not a morning person... and doesn't take too kindly to having to wake up before he's ready to. I hope he would get used to waking up early when he starts play school in January, though - although I foresee a pretty difficult transition period.
I finally managed to settle him and even got him to willingly brush his teeth before we headed out to my in-laws', where he spends the day while we're at work. He will have his shower after breakfast there.
Then Daddy forgot the car keys when we were already at the car park... and so we had to wait for him while he makes his way back up again.
BabyMoo usually has his morning milk on the way to his Grandmama's house. Sometimes the peak hour jam heading toward the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) is so bad that he would have finished the bottle even before we hit the expressway, even though it's usually a 3-minute drive away!
The journey from the West (where we stay) to the East, where my in-laws stay - takes about 20 to 30 minutes depending on traffic conditions in the morning. It's also a time when the boy and I have some time to bond.
I sing, he laughs, and Daddy curses most of the time because there are plenty of inconsiderate drivers.
I have conversations with him, and he will respond with cheeky grins and grunts.
We count dump trucks, container trucks, and keep a look out for the traffic police for Daddy!
He's carrying his week's supply of breakfast today. He loves Cornflakes and Frosties and Honey Stars, but isn't too inclined towards Coco Pops. We decided to get him these fun packs because he likes the variety, and each portion is just the right amount for him.
Traffic was smooth today, so we managed to reach our destination in good time. BabyMoo waves bye-bye to Daddy as we make our way to work.
DaddyMoo works in the vicinity while I work in town - so he drops me off at the bus stop, where I will catch a bus to work.
Yes, I can go directly to work from home. It will make much more sense to do so, instead of going all the way to the East - and then making my way back to the centre. But those few minutes of the day where I get to spend some time with the boy on the morning journey is precious. It doesn't matter that I can have a little extra shut eye should I choose to not accompany him on the journey. I treasure each moment that I am able to be with him.
I'm sure most of the regulars on the bus would be all too familiar with 'that lady who can break out in laughter for no apparent reason or is usually grinning to herself' while looking at her mobile!
(Ladies on my WhatsApp and Messenger groups - you know who you are - thank you for the constant entertainment!)
I have a morning caffeine boost before I start work. Current favourite: Salted Caramel Mocha from Starbucks.
I check emails, reply to a few queries, and get to work on a new promotion and advertisement layout slated for the restaurant in October.
The phone rings off the hook today, and by the time I'm done with general queries, menu arrangements, events reservations and confirmations - it's almost 3.00pm!
A refreshing iced tea and a 15 minute break later, Mr Afternoon Sandman has passed me by. I call my Mum-in-law to check on the boy, and after her affirmation that all was good with His Royal Naughtiness, I asked to speak to him... and was greeted with a happy yell and an ear splitting shriek on the phone.
It's funny how unintelligible sounds can evoke so much happiness.
A meeting with the rest of the Heads of Department regarding upcoming Marketing plans, and to address some issues about ongoing promotions.
I've worked with the team for the past 14 years, and we have not only grown together, but we have adapted to one another's working habits. We are first friends, then colleagues... and we have borne witness to everyone's many life-changing events. They are also the major reason why I love work, and have never seen it as a chore or simply as a means to an end.
Sending out day's end emails and checking what's to be done for tomorrow. I like to have things planned out whenever possible so that the work day moves much more smoothly. I also have to make provisions for last minute things, which happen quite frequently as I am in the F & B line.
I leave the office, and try to catch the 7.35pm bus back to my in-laws' - barring any delays. The journey is again made so much faster by playful banter and inane conversations with the girls. If they are away, I will settle down to read - and enjoy the alone time in a crowded bus.
His smiles and hugs takes the fatigue out of even the most hectic work day. He 'tells' us what he's been up to in the day... which includes breaking furniture, getting bumps and bruises, or the troubles he gets into due to his curious nature.
We have dinner, and BabyMoo gnaws on a chicken drumstick even though he's had his dinner earlier. He's at the stage where he wants to be involved and do whatever we do... and will never miss an opportunity to showcase the 'adult' things that he's able to do!
Heading on home... and BabyMoo hugs his Grandmama goodbye.
He falls asleep on the journey home, all tired out from play.
He sometimes sleeps through till the next morning, but most days, he will wake up the moment we reach home. He takes his shower, brushes his teeth, and has some play time with me. He either makes me read to him, or we would catch a movie on cable... depending on how tired we are. BabyMoo doesn't really fancy cartoons, and would much prefer watching NCIS or The Voice on TV.
I must always remember to skip the channel on Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), or else he won't sleep till the credits roll!
BabyMoo has finally decided to go to sleep... and this is my time. Time to blog, catch up with the hubba on the day's events, read, or just watch something utterly mindless or entertaining on TV. I am usually depleted of energy by the time the boy sleeps, so much so that even going to the bathroom takes a bit of an effort. The old bones aren't helping much, either.
By the time I'm done, there isn't much left of me. Sometimes sleep eludes me, just like those times when you are so tired but the body is still awake, thriving on the adrenaline rush of the day.
Like all Mums, regardless of whether they choose to stay home, work from home, work part time or work full-time... I do my best. I try to give my best for the family, and still have some left of me for myself. I am so fortunate to have an understanding husband, and I am appreciative of wonderful in- laws who are willing to give so much of their time to take care of BabyMoo in my absence.
I am exhausted... and there are times when I reminisce over those days when I could sleep as much as I want to, go anywhere I want to on a whim, and live with nary a care in the world.
I have never put so much heart and soul into trying to maintain a healthy balance between love, life, work and play.
I've never been so tired in my life.
I've never been happier, too.
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