I have been really really busy of late. Not because of work of course, since I am currently on maternity leave.
Yes, you guessed it right, I have been really busy mothering a newborn and a toddler. Sleepless nights, insufficient rest, tired and frozen shoulders…. you name it, I think I’ve got them all. Even earlier, my mother exclaimed that my dark eye rings were terrible.
Well, I have not been as diligent with my skincare regime of late too. I mean, I will be lucky if I have time to slap on some eye cream, an extra layer of serum, that anti-aging lotion, etc. When you have two kids who are shouting for your attention concurrently, time is a luxury.
Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s tiring.
But it’s fulfilling.
With Ashton, I didn’t find it as daunting to look after a newborn anymore. Perhaps because he’s the second kid and our prior experience with Ally had helped a lot.
Having said that, handling both a toddler and newborn can be an extremely energy draining activity. No, I have no domestic help. But I am lucky that we have a strong family support system who are able to provide me with assistance whenever possible. And I am glad that Dave is also an extremely hands-on father and husband who tries to make life easier for me as well.
Which made me wonder, what if I transpose myself to the workplace instead?
If I am at work, I can imagine that I will be in a position where I am kept extremely busy with irregular meal times, juggling multiple deadlines and endless incoming projects to review and execute. It doesn’t help that there has been a gargantuan of changes to the team at work – with three headcount losses within 2 months, you can imagine the workload that would have potentially fallen on my lap. Although I do feel apologetic towards my co-workers, I am feeling a huge sense of relief that I am actually off work at this point in time (although I wonder if the team would have stabilized by the time I return to work.)
Anyway, if I were to compare the two busy roles, with Ally then, I would have fiouns returning to work a more appealing option. Despite being extremely busy and the late nights and incessant overtime, I guess drawing a salary is still an attractive option, compared to nursing the baby, cleaning poo and pee. However, this time round, I find it much more fulfilling mothering two kids, and dread the thought of returning to work. (although l might end up slapping myself in the face for saying this a couple of weeks down the road).
I wonder if this might be the burnout that I had suffered from work, that caused me to use the maternity leave as a form of “escape”, or perhaps, as priorities change in life, mothering two kids suddenly doesn’t seem that bad an option anymore.
It made me realized that one of the most important things for us is to examine the roles that we play in our lives currently and how they form part of what we are, and the reason for why we are always kept so busy.
For instance, I have several roles to play.
Within the family
1. Mother to Ashton
2. Mother to Ally
3. Wife to Dave
4. Daughter to my parents
5. Sister to my sibling
6. Daughter-in-law to my parents-in-law
7. Subordinate to the bosses
8. Co-worker to my colleagues and team members
9. A mentor to the more junior members
10. A friend to my various friends and social groups
As of now, my most active roles are definitely 1 and 2, although I try to make sure that I do not neglect 3 and 4, and try to make time for 5 and 6. It’s definitely not easy and there is no objective yardstick that we can use to measure whether they have all been dealt with ideally.
I can ignore the work front for now, although I am still responsive to my colleagues when they have queries on the work front. But the main challenge will be when I am back at work full time.
On the social front, I haven’t seen some of my closer friends for a while, as they are pretty busy with their own lives as well, and with their own families and household to run. But I am glad that with technology advancement, we WhatsApp each other quite often and to keep up to date with each other’s lives. Not that I’m proud to say that I am maintaining a relationship with my friends with an app but it works for us for now. I am hoping that we will be able to do a face to face catch up relatively soon.
We have so many roles to play and are juggling multiple at any one instance. This keeps us really busy and I think when we are happy, we would generally feel fulfilled as well.
Being busy is not necessarily a bad thing, if fundamentally, we are enjoying what we are doing.
Of course, the time will come when the equilibrium tilts and we find the need to re-examine these roles in our lives and re-assess whether we need to exit some of these, or make changes to them.
And that is what we have been constantly doing as we move through phases in life, engage in new activities, meet new people, or change our priorities as we age.
As for me, I am currently enjoying the current status and savoring the moment and I do not intend to switch out any of them for now. Perhaps when the time comes for me to reassess again, there would be changes. And when that time comes, it doesn’t mean that the connection with those roles would have changed. It just means that it’s time to move on.
And to move on with life, is what we do all the time.
So when the time comes, embrace them whole-heartedly, for we have made our choice. And you will find yourself happier. And perhaps fulfilled as well.