As a mother, who did not benefit from the maternity allowances given today, I always dreamt of a job which allowed the flexibility of working from home, as a means to be near my children. I never thought this opportunity will come with something like a global pandemic. As it turned out, with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, like millions of others, my world has also shrunk to the size of my house. For many of us, it is still business as usual, balancing out ‘work from home’ and ‘home work,’ the only difference being that the meetings are now held from drawing room couches instead of corporate workspaces.
Getting the hang of ‘work from home’ under unprecedented conditions, did take time. While it is turning out to be a novel experience, it started with the first few days of trying to ace the meetings and deadlines along with being a super cook, super mom or basically a super woman. While the child in the children only knows that mom is home, and it’s the perfect time for on-demand and special menus, for the mom in the working woman, who has always felt guilty about not being there – cooking becomes the priority, ending up with you becoming a master chef. Needless to say, with the lockdown making a Tuesday also look pretty much like a Saturday, chores like cooking, cleaning, washing which were planned for weekends, have become an everyday task. The hard reality hits most of us pretty hard!
Followed by those snide remarks, “Is this what you do in the office the whole day – meetings and meetings;” “It was much better when you were in the office, at least I didn’t have to clean my room every hour”. Every day turned out to be a bad day and I felt like nothing got done! Also, maybe because when the workday was over, I was still in the same spot…. it was a terrible feeling.
While it was natural to feel frustrated, with no house help and juggling with all the cooking, cleaning, washing, meetings, I realised that the best way is to cut yourself some slack. No point in proving that you are a superwoman, since there is no competition out there to win. I learnt the hard way that it is ok not to clean every day, it is ok to say ‘no’ to a personalised menu. I found that it was much simpler to use delegation and planning skills, gathered over the years in the office to get work done. As it turned out, as always, I am blessed to have teams who are the best – be it at workplace or at home. A team that becomes a family and a family that becomes a team during crisis. Still managing to find humour during this decidedly difficult situation, not to mention a few comical instances. Instances where in the middle of a meeting, you realise that there is silence and find all of the people on the screen staring, cutting you mid-sentence; you turn and inevitably find someone appearing behind you on the screen, or when in the middle of a meeting – a cooker whistle blows up.
What I do miss is not being able to dress up, drive to work, have animated discussions in the cafeteria, sitting together with my wonderful colleagues who have become part of my life, to accomplish tasks and then head home. The whole cycle did give one a sense of achievement. But when I think it could have been a lot worse, the opportunity to be with my family becomes a privilege not everyone is able to enjoy. Acutely aware of the sacrifices being made by those numerous warriors – police, doctors, healthcare personnel and even mothers who could not manage to have their children near them, I could not ask for more than what I have today.
Quoting Jim Rohn, “Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better,” the silver lining on the cloud is that, after somehow managing to beat all of the odds, I am sure to walk out of this so called ‘corona conundrum’ a changed person, suffused with satisfaction – still giving everything its best shot but ready to forgive myself if all is not perfect.