Merlee Jayme chairmom/chief creative officer Dentsu Jayme Syfu Philippines reflects on More family time at home: My wish has been granted in a weird way
It’s my 30th year working in the industry as a creative. All those years, I have always wished for that perfect work-family balance.
I have been a mom since I was a young struggling copywriter. One can imagine all my long hours, and late pitch nights. I would wake up with my kids already in school and come home when they’re all asleep. Thanks to my husband and my parents who have helped me try to “balance” the two worlds.
Through all my busy years, I would insert trips to “force” family bonding. As technology became better, this became more difficult. The rare family time suddenly got bombarded by Viber messages, email follow-ups, rush texts. I have told myself, maybe retirement is the only way to achieve this.
Little did I know that a virus will make my family and all the families in the world, bond with each other. We’re now complete during meals – which used to be close to impossible before this lock down happened. Netflix hits are now enjoyed together. Sunday masses are heard in the den. The girls are all sharing household chores. The family dog, Gucci, is just as amazed as we are. Suddenly we’re together 24/7.
I discovered so many great things about my four daughters. My eldest one who worked as a copywriter in Singapore vibered me every day about anything. From mundane things to advice. I also learned so much from her. I could not help but be awed by her independence. My second daughter, also a copywriter, was super disciplined and dedicated to her work, despite WFH.
She found a corner in the living room and made that “her corner office”. On a workday, she really put her mind to the workload assigned to her. I knew right away that she was a lot better than my procrastinating self. My third, a College freshman who was used to staying in her university dorm, religiously went to the gym. I checked her football coach’s recommended daily workout and it was really tough. The drive to keep on training was admirable. And well, my Junior high schooler raked in points in online games, made tiktok dances, created vlogs and started cleaning her messy room.
“I’m busy” and “I have no time for that” were my go-to lines as a working Mom. These made me feel guilty all the time. That one moment when I balanced the two worlds made me feel fulfilled but at the same time really tired. It was that client presentation in the board room. After. I presented the creative campaigns, I excused myself for a bathroom break. I rushed downstairs, rode the car, got flowers, reached my daughter’s ballet recital, applauded loudly and made my presence felt, gave her the flowers, had a selfie with her then headed back to the board room. It was the longest bathroom break, but it felt good.
Today, I am being given a longer break. A break from business trips, stressful pitches (presentations were moved), financial anxiety (at least for the moment). Today, unbelievable as it seems, I am a stay-at-home-working Mom. The balancing may continue with conference calls almost every hour. The comfort of home surrounded by your loved ones, however, makes these trying times wonderful. The virus may have sowed fear in us, but let’s conquer this with all the positive things that may come out from this.