How two working moms make it work
Parenthood is one of the most challenging and demanding responsibilities a person can have in their lifetime. Everyone knows that to nurture and care for a child is no easy task. It is in itself a full-time job with no vacations, and absolutely no days off.
Nowadays, the role of breadwinner is no longer exclusive to men with the growing number of stay-at-home dads effectively debunking the notion that being a homemaker is reserved only for women.
One is more likely to see both parents putting in the work, making ends meet, and generally just trying to keep up with the demands of modern life and its ever-increasing cost of living.
Working moms, therefore, are now common in many households. There is Carol Patungan, for instance—partnered and mother to three boys (one four-year-old and twins 16 months old). And then there is Grace Welsh, a single parent, and mother to a three-year-old girl. Find out why these two women best embody the working mothers of today.
Working moms, role models
What makes Patungan and Welsh’s lives as working mothers even more difficult is the fact that both of them work in the local BPO industry. In fact, they both work at night and have been doing so for quite some time. But what do these working moms think about their role as mothers and employees in an industry defined by graveyard shifts and stressful workloads?
“The whole experience is really life changing. And as far as success goes: the biggest thing I’ve picked up so far is the lesson on letting go,” says Patungan, who has been in the BPO industry for 11 years, working the night shift ever since she started. “You have to let go of what you think you know and you have to be open to learning about things and how things work as you go along.”
Welsh also believes that juggling her time as a mother and BPO worker is a constant learning experience. “Managing my time between work and home is something I continuously learn about each and every day. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it,” she stresses.
Despite the difficulty of working in a BPO and being mothers at the same time, the two women have embraced their similar roles wholeheartedly despite differing personal conditions.
For Welsh, her decision to work in a BPO was because of the need to support her family. “For me, personally, the choice to do both at the same time came naturally. It was apparent that I had to earn a living not just for myself, but also for my child,” she notes. “I have to work so that I can afford a comfortable life for the two of us.”
In turn, motherhood came when Patungan was already working in the graveyard shift. “Things have been relatively easy to manage at first, since I have my whole family in the States and we all basically operate on the same clock,” she says. “But since I started my own family, things have changed dramatically.”
Both Patungan and Welsh believe that even though they are working in a demanding industry, they need to spare some time for their children.
“Now that I’m a parent, I’ve learned that it is your responsibility to be with your child; to spend time with her and to raise her,” Welsh asserts. “I’ve also learned that it is imperative for you to start building everything that you can. Being a working parent is an uneasy thing, but you have to make do.”
Carol also believes that it is important for working mothers to spend time with their kids. She also stresses the need for working mothers to find an employer that will support them during emergencies.
“Work is important, but so is spending quality time with your kids. It is therefore important to have an employer that understands the demands of parenthood and offers flexibility in ways that really count,” Patungan explains.
Merely keeping a job comes with it many challenges. These challenges multiply two-fold if one keeps a job and raises kids at the same time. For Welsh, one of the biggest challenges she had to face was initially adjusting to the night shift.
“Our office hours are drastically different from normal work hours, and mine require me to be away at night and asleep during the day,” she recalls.
The shift has indeed made certain things and activities unavailable to her so adjustments had to be made, one of which was devoting all her remaining available time to her daughter, at the expense of personal endeavors.
Although she says that her life is neatly compartmentalized—with her kids and partner on one side and her team members and clients on the other—Patungan, on the other hand, says that there have been situations which force these two to collide like, for instance, when a child gets sick.
“In situations like that, you really are confronted with having to decide which will have to come first. And you have to act quickly,” Carol notes. “I am lucky because where I work at Telus International, the company provides for such occurrences in ways that decisions need not be so drastic. I can work from home, or I can send notice to my boss, or I can teleconference with my clients.”
Welsh similarly emphasizes the need for working moms to work in a company that understands their complicated lives and supports them completely.
“A key lesson I’ve learned is that it’s important to get support and to get help. When facing challenges, it is crucial that you have support available to you,” she emphasizes. “I’ve been with the same company for almost eight years now, and all I can say is they’ve been very generous and very kind. The company provides me with the support that I need, at the time that I need it, ensuring stability for myself, my family, and for the entire company.
Indeed, playing the role of an employee and mother is a delicate balancing act. The question then is this: how do working mothers know that they are succeeding in both roles?
Success in the workplace is easily observable, with specific metrics like ratings, promotions, and other forms of recognition. However, measuring success as a parent is a bit more complicated. The reality is that working moms can only start measuring, or seeing, success as parents when they let go of any preconceived notions of what parenthood should be. Success is attained when they see their children happy and their partners inspired and totally supportive of them as both a parent and as a professional. Only when these are attained in both work and home can they say that they’ve reached that point of success—the pinnacle of balance; the point of total equilibrium.