This is a guest post which recently appeared on the blog Ettie and me. Emma, who was so kind to host me on her well-affirmed blog, recently went back to work full-time after her maternity leave, and decided to give stage to other working moms to share their challenges. If you are interested in telling your story, make sure to contact Emma. In any case, jump to explore her website, I’m a regular there, as I always find something interesting to read.
My friends ask me how I do it to do it all. I wish I had a strategy to share, but truth is I play by the ear, I have great support around me, and if I get sick for two days my house of cards falls.
Here I am, a full-time working mom and an Italian expat living in Finland. The day has not enough hours, as every working parent knows. My day starts early and I’m usually by my work desk at 7.30 am. Awfully early for an IT job, I know, but this allows me to be home by 4.30 pm, not bad is it? The time I spend at work is hectic. I am employed in a fast-growing company and I follow several projects. That’s the atmosphere I thrive in. It leaves, however, little headspace and sometime when it’s time to go home I feel I cannot get through the day. My husband has a full-time job as CMO in a startup, but he’s now taking a one year parental leave to care for our newest addition to the family, our son E, who came through international adoption from India. Before E would come home I was the designated driver from daycare to home for our four year old daughter R. In these months, I get to walk home to a dinner in the making and I can spend a hour playing with my kids. It’s intense but really nice.
I am very grateful from the support I get from my workplace, Finnish policies, and my partner. My company promotes work-life balance and parental leave is seen as an employee’s right. My supervisor (a man) spent the past year working part-time to alternate with his wife to care for their toddler at home. When your team lead does it, it sets the bar. Finland is great to live in when you have kids. I could go on for hours sharing all the top notch services we get for cheap or no fees. Then there’s my lovely husband (I can adulate him because he never reads my blog 😉 ). He is taking most of the time off we planned for our son and changed his plans to allow me to go back to my job a little earlier than expected. He knows how I love working and how much it fills my day and my expectations.
One thing I’m missing as an expat mum is the support of family living close-by. Sometime we summon a pair of grandparents from Italy for few weeks if we have work trips coming on or similar, but it’s not the same as being able to ask for a hand when you need it right away. We can never take a break from parenting. The language barrier also makes things harder usually, both at work, as I feel I have limited career options, and in our social life, as it can compromise starting relationships with parents of other kids who are not comfortable speaking English.
I like being a working mom and I’m proud to be an expat parent. I believe our sacrifices as parents are creating better opportunities for our children. I have missed working during every maternity leave, even though I appreciated greatly the opportunity to spend exclusive time with my children. Work is part of how I live up to my identity and, after all, I think it makes me the best mother I can be.