Inspirational Women 2017 – Nthabiseng Moloi (Career Mom)
I know “Woman’s Month” is over, but I am sure you will agree with me we should actually be recognizing the women in our lives daily. So, I share with you one last post on the Inspirational Women of 2017.
From the moment I met Nthabiseng just over a decade ago, I knew there was something special about her. We’ve grown from being just colleagues to holding true friendship. She’s become like the older sister I turn to when the chips are down or if I want to share an achievement. Nthabi inspires both men and women socially and in the professional world every day. A natural born leader, teacher, motivational speaker, amazing mother, friend and I will be first to state here, that I have no doubt that author will be added to that remarkable list (not complete) in the near future. Read her story, for I am sure she will leave you inspired as much as she has inspired me over the last 10 years, and continues to do so daily.
BALANCING A DEMANDING CAREER AND FAMILY OBLIGATIONS
I really believe in the saying that “with age comes a greater wisdom, an ease and comfort with oneself” Cherie Lunghi. I think that’s the reason I can comfortably and unashamedly say there is no such thing as balance in life. Any woman – especially one in a relationship, and with children and with an amazing group of friends and with a brother who “demands” home baked pudding almost every Sunday and holds down a full-time job or two – who says they have found the recipe to this, is either young and naïve or in denial. Either way, I won’t judge 🙂
My first thoughts on this article were to think back to my younger self and see if even then, there was some semblance of balance in life or if I was indeed in denial and naïveJ. So let’s start with varsity days when it was important to party for six solid consecutive weeks and still get through my exams with satisfactory results. Partying vs studying? Was there balance? Hell frigging no! I was young, freelanced as a news reader for one of most renowned radio stations at the time – Radio Bop – so I was a busy young person. I partied more than I should have and studied a lot less than I should have, but I still managed to get a degree and an Honours as well. All the while partying, freelancing on radio, nipping in and out of Mafikeng to Johannesburg or to Botswana to a Shabba Ranks concert or a party at Bop flats or hanging out with my girls. Fast forward to when I moved back to Johannesburg in 1994. I continued to freelance on radio on weekends – this time on Metro FM and held down a full-time job. I watched CNN all.the.time to keep up with the news – and most importantly to get a hang of pronunciation of names like Boutros-Boutros Ghali or Basia Trzetrzelewska. I worked hard and partied hard. Thanks to the type of sisterhood I keep, we worked hard and partied even harder. Heck, we were young and happening and our names were always “on the guest list”. We never queued anywhere – no jokes! Never! This might explain my reluctance to go out these days, because I have to queue to concerts and events – no thanks. I am holding on to those awesome memories when I was “Ms Thang with her name on the guest list” 🙂
Okay, so that was supposed balance or lack thereof without children. Fast forward to 2003 and 2008 when I had my two daughters, Ziyanda and Luyanda respectively. Oops, I guess you can ignore the first bit of this article because real balance is more relevant from here onwards 🙂
“with age comes a greater wisdom, an ease and comfort with oneself” Cherie Lunghi
Life with children and a housemate and work and family and friends and balance? Only in movies, I tell you. It took less than two months after Ziyanda was born for me to understand that there was no way I could hold down two jobs. Something had to give – and so my days as a news reader came to an abrupt end – sadly. I resigned and dedicated my weekends to my daughter. Regrets? Yes, because I love radio and radio had been a good part of my life for more than 12 years or so. Growing up – all I wanted was to be a journalist. But life will keep throwing you challenges I guess because life is about choices. When Ziyanda was 4 months old, I had to travel to San Antonio and Atlanta for a Lottery conference. So for two weeks I travelled the US and thoroughly enjoyed myself (guilt free I may add), with a 4-month-old left at home with my Mom and my housemate. I knew that there was no one else in this entire world, who could look after her better than my Mom and my housemate could. And two years later when I was offered the position of Regional Marketing Manager for East and Southern Africa – a job where for one week every month of the year, I would be in a different country – I had to make a tough decision. Again — the most amazing opportunity, but how do you do it all? How do you leave behind your children and housemate for a week or sometimes more than a week and still think you are a good mother or partner? How do you miss sports days or a recital or a doctor’s appointment and still think you are a great Mom? When you have to give “instructions” to your housemate about medication for fever all the way from Tanzania or when you are in Kenya, in the middle of a meeting and you see 3 missed calls from home – and you know – YOU MUST CALL HOME IMMEDIATELY! And it turns out you just need to give reassurance that yes, even though the pharmacist does not have the specific medication you said he should get for your daughter, your housemate can definitely go with the Pharmacists recommendation. These are moments when you realise that even without any pharmaceutical qualification – as a Mom – you are actually more trusted than the pharmacist. No matter where you are in the world, you are still a Mom, and a wife and the voice of reason and you have a family that looks to you for answers and comfort and love and so much more. How do you do this, when half the time you are in another country? Or at work? Or in a meeting? How do you reconcile all that?
Well, I think there were defining conversations I had with myself – consciously I think? I don’t know, but these conversations were crucial. One of them was that I would hate to look back on missed opportunities and think “if it wasn’t for my children, I would have done this and that…. “. I decided early on in life, that I would never burden my children or my family with my failure to take on opportunities that would help grow my career or make me happy or fuel me in some way or the other. I would never say, if it wasn’t for them, I would have taken the job. If it wasn’t for them, I would have done this or that. I travelled, lots! I worked hard with amazing agents from Angola to Zimbabwe to Ethiopia to Uganda to Mauritius to Morocco to Austria to France and experienced different cultures. And there was absolutely no balance in our lives. I excelled at my job. I built life-long relationships with people like Stella Mulinge from Kenya, Patricia Ijala from Uganda, Tatek Abayneh from Ethiopia and much more. To be honest, this has been the story of my working life. Even today, I work a lot harder than I probably should – I still hold down two jobs (I did say I love radio) but that’s another story for another day.
So, what about my kids? Ziyanda is now 14 and Luyanda is 9 and they are great kids. They challenge me. They complain when I don’t attend every single school event. And yes, I attend many, many, school events – but not all. They complain when I spend too much time at work. And yes, I will get home after they are in bed some days, and some days I get home well before they even think of bed time. They worry about me when I stress about work. And yes, sometimes they go with me to tv ad shoots or radio ads recordings and they get to experience some of my working world and they love it and they have been in a tv ad with their friends…and they were proud to show off what their Mom does for a living. And Ziyanda has done voice over work and we proudly put the radio volume up whenever the ad came on the radio — and through all this, they appreciate what I do. They “know” the people I work with and work for and can tell you stories for days or even write a book about the different bosses I’ve had (lol). They worry and look after me when I am sick. And yes weekends are absolutely all about them. At least 40 weekends in a year are fully dedicated to them. I am their chauffeur, movie buddy, entertainment guide and so much more. Weekends are theirs, non-negotiable most times.
SO IS THERE SUCH A THING AS BALANCE?
Hell No! What I do know for sure, is I do the best that I can to be happy first and foremost – so that I can, in turn, make sure I do things and give things and share things and enable things and fuel things that make us function as a well-rounded, relatively balanced happy family – or as close as possible to that. There are many things I need in my life to make me whole – my children, my housemate, my sisterhood of girls (damn these girls are a crucial part of my sanity and be it weekend trips or girls’ night out or champagne festivals or literature festival as my housemate calls it – we do all these as part of balance), my brother and and and… What I know for sure, is that if I am not whole or comfortable with my lack of balance – nothing else will work. Thankfully, with age comes the wisdom to accept the things you cannot change, to enjoy the journey and to always, always, make sure you have an amazing sisterhood of girls or a tribe or a village full of people who will pick up all the broken and unbalanced pieces of your life and remind you often – what an amazing being you are. I am grateful for my housemate – 17 years of sharing space – and I can honestly say, he is the reason I am the person I am today – strong yet soft at the best of times, unapologetic about some of my decisions, determined to enjoy the journey whatever it brings — because God knows, he is the one who makes sure that even when the seesaw tips from one side to the other, he catches all of us.
My children know that even though I may not do everything they need me to do, my heart is in the right place. They also know, that our family functions as a “village”. If I am not there, their father, or uncle, or their Godmothers — Aunty Mel and Aunty Marcelle – will be there. It takes a village to raise a child – and thankfully I have my tribe, my village. I am because they are!
This post is shared in Nthabiseng Moloi’s own words.
Find her in the social world via Instagram.