By Mariam Shour, Senior Copywriter, VICE MEA 

Being a mother feels like always having 46 tabs open, constantly clicking through each one of them. It’s all-encompassing, in both its struggles and its beauty. Throw in going back to work and you’ve really got yourself a recipe for disaster. Or so I thought.

There’s a modern twist that has reshaped the landscape for working mothers like me – the era of borderless working and the ability to connect into teams from across the globe, providing new opportunities and insights. It’s not for everyone but it worked out well for me at VICE. 

At 6 months postpartum, I was approached by my now manager and mentor to join her creative team as a senior copywriter. The urge to return to a fraction of who I used to be, by returning to work, was all-consuming. Swap bottles for briefs and changing diapers for campaigns? Yes, please. But the all-too-familiar wave of mum-guilt swept over me and I thought twice about it. Could I manage? Would I neglect my son, or my team in turn? What if it’s too much?

To that I was reassured. You can work fully remotely. You let us know what time works best for you to have a meeting. Let’s add comments onto the deck and you can check them whenever. These little moments my amazing team offered up made a world of a difference. COVID completely transformed the workplace and helped dismantle structures that were long overdue for an overhaul, making it possible for someone like me to work and be a mother, miles away from my team or office. I reconnected with myself and in turn was able to connect with teams from across the globe, collaborating with colleagues scattered in different time zones, gaining insights and ideas at the tap of a few keys.

That’s not to say it’s been smooth sailing. There’ve been moments when my son is screaming during a presentation as my voice gets frantically higher and higher in volume, trying to speak over him and failing to maintain my cool. Or when he’s wrapped around my leg, saying mama on repeat while I try to listen to my coworkers speak. But it’s okay. My coworkers make it okay. They love it when he pops his head in on camera to say hi and the meltdown eventually passes.

When they say, it takes a village – it really, truly does. I’ve found part of my village at VICE.  Borderless working and embracing the flexibility that comes with it has allowed me to be there for my child while still pursuing a fulfilling career. Yes, some days are harder than others but it has made me realize that work and motherhood can coexist within the same lifetime, so long as I’m open about my responsibilities in both parts and vocal about any support I might need. 

Because you see, there’s no such thing as balance. Mothers don’t have to be martyrs. We can do it all, just not all at once. I learnt it’s about embracing flexibility, fostering open communication, and finding a village of like-minded people. The best part is, we get to change the culture of what it means to be a working mum in the process. Talk about your kids at work. Talk to your kids about work. Put them over your lap and have them say hi and bye during calls, ditch the guilt, find your village wherever it may be, and ask for flexibility. You’ll most likely get it.