The day I found out I was pregnant more than a year ago, I was so excited to change my bio from a “career woman” to a “working mom”. I have always been a go-getter. At that point of my life I thought it was just gonna be an easy phase. I’m gonna be back to work after maternity leave and nothing’s gonna change. I thought I’ll just go back to work and miss my babies and repeat the process but I didn’t know it’s going to be a difficult transition.
I considered my official working career in Accenture when I started doing production/application support and actually realized I was good at it – I got a lot of commendations, got promoted twice and moved teams. After 4 years, I moved to another company to manage transitions of what we were doing in Accenture to TCS as L2 production support with the same client. I was one of the pioneers. I loved the team that I was a part of since 2010 – Advisory. I had a lot of colleagues which I still consider as friends now. My team lead was a great leader, trusted me a lot with what I do and challenged me so many times and proved to him that I can lead a team of my own. So when I was about to return from my maternity leave, he asked me what I wanted to do when I get back. It was a delight to hear it from him, to know that he considers what I wanted to do, and for him to consider me on applying for internal lead openings. He told me to update my CV and they would be submitting it for team lead positions.
At that point, I thought I was ready. But I had mixed feelings about it because I never really wanted to leave Advisory. Back when I told my lead that I’m getting married in 2015, he asked me if I’d still wanted to work. It was such a weird question for me then because I see no reason for a person to stop working once you get married and had kids. My mother always told me to make sure you have established your career before getting married. And I never really see myself quitting work, I liked what I do. I liked being challenged. But fast forward to now after having kids, I now understand why he had to ask me that question.
My manager started sending my CV to business leads for qualified team lead positions a month before I got back from maternity leave. It was the start of interviews which involves locking myself in our room and keeping myself from being distracted from my newborn twins’ cries and hoping the interview won’t get too much of my time because as you guessed it, breastfeeding is life. The struggle of balancing work and being a mom to newborns is real – and yes, double the struggle because I have twins. It was also a difficult time because interviews were so technical and even if I work in IT, you’ll be surprised that I’m not really a technical person. I guess it was one of the reasons why I never became a programmer. Most of the first few interviews I had, I remember saying, “I am not familiar with this because this was not part of the scope of my previous work but I am willing to be trained if required” on most of the questions. I took maybe three interviews, none was successful. I asked my manager on what’s gonna happen if I don’t pass any of them. I mean, what work will I be doing once I get back? Will I still be a part of a team? What’s gonna happen to me? But then he assured me that I’m gonna get a role, we just need to try harder and looked for the right fit. I did messaged my former lead that I’m willing to go back to Advisory if he’d liked but sadly, for a consulting company, once you are in maternity leave, your slot would get replaced by another employee because of billability.
After next batch of interviews, I finally passed for a team lead position. I was excited! It was a role I have been praying for for a long time. I remember when I was in Accenture and some of my colleagues were getting promoted early on, some even became a team lead as early as 27. Because of that, it was also a target I set with myself. I became one at 29. During my career process, there were times when I was too hard on myself, setting goals and expectations that sometimes are way over the top. But I guess it was something that kept me motivated.
Unlike other moms who were having mixed feelings on going back to work from maternity leave, I was excited February 2017. I feel like I am so used to working that I wanted to do something else aside from taking care of the twins. I needed time back again for myself. Being a parent to twins is no joke, there was definitely no time for rest and I wanted a breather. I had no yaya on their first three months. I wanted to leave the house and be away from them for a while so I could miss them and come back again whole and renewed. I loved the first few months back to work – I had my own schedule, I had frequent pump sessions, we had trainings, I was learning something new, met new people and everything was a challenge. I knew that the role would still involve shifting. I mean I have been doing it since 2008, what’s the big deal? But then when it happened, I struggled.
The first night I went to work on a nightshift schedule, it was terrible. It was the hardest. I cried in the car when my husband drove me to the bus stop. I felt so guilty leaving the twins to him at night where they needed me the most. Since the twins were breastfed and they were still not sleeping through the night, I felt guilty that him and his aunt would have to stay up and give them bottles instead of just breastfeeding them and they’d fall asleep easily. That night, it was the first time that I asked myself if this new role was worth it.
Every single day I felt drained. Leading a team and balancing family when your kids are still babies was hard for me. Everyday I have to think about work, if everything in our team was going okay, replying to escalations, making sure we have enough coverage. Then I’d go home, take care of the twins and it felt like I never rest at all. Even when I’m sick or on leave I get messages about work and I’d still have to think about coverage and escalations. Work requires weekend support at night and there are times when you had to work during Holidays. During nightshift, my husband and I almost never talk anymore. The only time we spend with each other was when he drives me to the bus stop and that’s it. Our usual conversations had become just Facebook messages. I felt sad. This isn’t what I pictured life is when I have a family of my own. I thought this new role would give me that, a freedom on work schedule and more time with family. However, it was the complete opposite and it didn’t felt right. I wasn’t happy.
There were times when I’d break down and cry. I told my husband that I wanted to quit. I wanted to look for another opportunity where I only need to work during the day. And I don’t think I was excelling on my new role. I felt unmotivated. I thought maybe I’m still getting used to it. I told myself that maybe it was too early to quit. I’d give it a year. If I still feel the same way about it, then that’s when I decide if I still wanted to leave.
It was a difficult time wherein my leadership was tested. I was fortunate that my team members were good with the work that we do. It’s a plus to hire people with the same background so they only needed a few adjustment with work. They were never late, they value time, and I am sure they were also challenged. You really never know what kind of a leader you are until you become one. I had to adjust a lot. I had to improve how I talk to people. I realized how hard it is to be a lead when you’re an introvert. There were a lot of times when I asked myself if this is really a role for me because I for one do not like talking to people on a daily basis and yet I have to do it as part of work. It was a moment where everything was too much – too much going on at work, and too much going on at home with twins. Juggling both roles are hard and I need to prioritize one above the other. It was a no-brainer. I know it will always be family first.
By December 2017, I started looking for other opportunities. I dreaded going to work at night, I always feel bad every time. I started submitting resumes and applying in Jobstreet and LinkedIn. I even messaged my past colleagues and schoolmates for referrals. It was already April and I never really heard from anyone yet. But after two weeks, I received a message from Metrobank for a job interview. I asked for a referral from my previous manager in Accenture as I was looking for a permanent morning shift opportunity. I was scheduled for an interview for an IT Account Manager position. I read so much about the job description to make sure that everything I answer in the interview was aligned with the work.
A week went by but no word. I was getting impatient. I prayed and hoped that they’d get back to me the following week. And then a week after, as I arrived home from work, I received a text regarding my job offer. I thought, this is it. In the month of April, there were two resignations before me. The thought of resigning while my team was in a vulnerable state had me on so much guilt. But then I told myself that for the past year, it has always been my team. I have to do this for myself this time.
As I accepted my job offer through email that same night, I realized how far my journey was and the struggles that I had since last year. When one of our clients knew I resigned, he asked me, “What did we do wrong? Why are you leaving us?” I told him the real reason and he understood. He told me that I should’ve done this a year ago when the twins were still young. Coming from him, he said, “It will only get harder”. I was so glad he understood where I was coming from.
Once you become a mother, everything changes. Your outlook in life and your priorities will change. You’ll be surprised the difference a year can make with motherhood. It’s like you matured 500%. Every single decision you make will be all about family. Your decision to skip on going to work for “Holiday pay” will be replaced with “I have to spend more time at home”. And there will come a time when you ask yourself if what you’re doing is still worth the risk, the time away from family, the loads of work, if all of it are still worth sacrificing for. And the last question you should ask yourself is, are you still happy?
I came across a quote that says, “It’s not worth it if you’re no longer happy.” It struck me big time. It was something that I felt for the longest time and now that I found an opportunity where I can balance work and family, I feel like I can let out a long sigh. It was a long wait and a big risk. I am excited to take on this new role and new journey. Hopefully, it’s something that will fulfill my heart’s desire.
To all new mothers out there who still experience career struggles, this is for you. I know what it felt like when you think about quitting work and focusing on being a mother. When you leave for work every day thinking twice about leaving your child to someone else or if your new yaya can take care of your child like its their own. And when you think about how much your lifestyle and budget would change if you quit, then you scratch the idea and still go to work broken hearted. We sacrifice a lot for our babies, but at the same time, its the time when they needed us the most. I guess all I can say is, continue being hardworking, a perfect opportunity will come, we just have to be patient. I know it feels like forever waiting but we just have to continue trusting God’s plan for us. And most of all, pray. Pray for your plans. Pray that your plans are aligned to His. It will unfold beautifully in God’s time.
As me and my cousin would say, “kapit lang.” It’s worth the wait.