After Egyptian women made their successful entrance into the professional world, the perception of the Egyptian working mother has evolved quickly. With all the challenges we have around us in our beloved country. As well as the high expectations everyone puts on women, especially working women assuming they are “less motherly”. The Egyptian working mother has struggled and conquered, and I am trying to be an example of this glory!
Being a career-oriented woman in the Egyptian society has affected my personality. Multiple priorities have been re-assigned. When I went back to work, everyone asked me the million dollar question: “will you be able to make it?” My answer has always been the same: “it is hard, but it is not impossible.” There comes a point in life where you have to make a decision. Most mothers want to spend more time around their babies. I am one of those mothers; I am the mother of those mothers actually! And yet, my work is part of my identity. And I cannot let go of a part of me for the sake of competing with other mothers.
My day starts around 5 am. There is always a task waiting to be completed in the house: laundry, dishes, food leftovers and trying to make the house look almost “neat”. Then my daughter wakes up, she wants to be fed, cuddled, get her nappy changed and get some entertainment. She stays with my mother while I am at work and she can’t be missing any of her favorite things. To bypass this, I got two of everything I bought her. I get dressed for work, I convince myself that yogurt is a decent breakfast, and I try to leave home by 7 to commute to my mother and reach work by 8.
I finish work, pick up my daughter, go home, change her nappy, bathe her, feed her, entertain her and try to convince myself that the tuna I have at 6PM is lunch! I head to the gym with her and I thank God that there are gyms that have mothers take their babies along. I go back home at around 8. I start the little tasks again with laundry and dishes.
There had been times in which I was puked on after getting dressed for work
There had been times in which I could not get to work on time because she was cranky and I didn’t want to leave until she is in a good mood
There had been times in which I wanted a less hectic life
And there are always times, every day, in which I am grateful and happy for being blessed!
At first, I was in denial and thought that I can be upset about being exhausted and perhaps “it” will go away. Well it won’t and I don’t want it to! We all have different capacities, and I believe that the more the person is willing to stretch their abilities, the more energy God will grant them. Everybody complains about how they have to work hard to maintain the blessings they have. And they forget to be thankful that they have these blessings to begin with.
Last but not least, some advice for working mothers:
Don’t be your mom: She is a great person and a role model but times have changed. Life is harder in ways but yet much more convenient in ways. Rely on a solid support system so you make your steps back into work on a solid ground.
Forget about peer pressure: Peer pressure is nothing but other people being jealous of you and trying to make you feel less competent. Forget what others mothers are doing with their children. Work is not the end a happy childhood!
All your baby really needs is a happy mother: Your baby needs you to be happy to be able to get that positive vibe from you and become a healthy child. Many mothers make the decision to stay at home after having children and they become angry at themselves, their husbands, their children or maybe even the world!
You still matter: The whole concept of “Sitt Ameena” is dead! Denying yourself the right to go shopping, visit friends, see a movie, staying in shape and dressing nicely is nonsense! You can do so much with your baby.
Now, go out there, be amazing at work and happy at home! Enjoy your career and your life with your family!