From Where We Sit

Balancing Act

Mailene Sigue-Bisnar

“Mom, I need an index card!”, said my youngest daughter who is currently in Grade 3. “Mom, do we have colored popsicle sticks?” added her Grade 5 sister, as I spoke to the two of them over the phone. If they call me while I’m in a meeting, I normally tell them to text me and I will reply to them later. I also frequently open the Viber chat group with my co-parents to check for relevant posts. This is how my afternoon usually goes as soon as the kids get home from school.

As parents, we always strive for balance in our lives. Many of us free up our weekends for activities we want to do outside work. We take time to strengthen our bonds with family, friends, and ourselves as well. It’s a different story when you’re a working mother like myself who has five children ages eight, 10, 12, 16 and 19. I read and shared thousands of anecdotes with fellow mothers and we always share the same sentiments—motherhood is a role with neither weekends nor breaks.

I married a fellow Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and we’re raising our kids together. I consider raising kids the most challenging and definitely the most important job in the world. It’s essential for me to do it right. I have to master the art of being a mediator between sibling rivalries, a mentor, a cook, a counselor, a badminton buddy, and a loving wife.

On a typical day, I would go with the kids to school, leaving the house as early as 5:15 a.m. and go home at 7 p.m. or earlier depending on whether I have to tutor my kids on Math, Filipino, and English. I feel guilty when my younger kids want me to put them to sleep and I couldn’t go home due to after-office meetings. It’s very stressful to work and raise kids on good days.

On not so good days, like when kids get sick or there’s a conflict between fieldtrips and office meeting, the balancing act becomes shaky. I juggle my work as a mother and a career woman. I’m determined to work hard to prove this can be done. I don’t mind the challenges. I love my work and I have always been an advocate of women empowerment.

Would you believe I’ve been to the Yakult and Gardenia plants five times? On the most recent tour, I found out I was the most senior mother in the group! For a long time, I’ve been taking on the role of field trip chaperone repeatedly but every moment is different. Each memory with my kids provides me insights into handling each child differently. As a mother, it’s an overwhelming opportunity to continuously support children’s development towards their bright future.

At work, I’m an Audit and Assurance Partner and Head of the Markets Group at P&A Grant Thornton. Juggling these two major roles makes my professional career more challenging. I usually cope with job pressures by finding the right balance. In accounting terms, it’s easy to find the balance by knowing the interactions among your assets, liabilities, and capital.

I always try to rise up to the challenge of balancing the role of a caring mother, loving wife, and professional CPA. It’s never easy. To keep that balance, determining individual assets and liabilities will provide an overview of what to do next. I believe my assets are my unlimited love for my family and the things I do and the unconditional support of my husband and family. At work, it would be from the organization or institution that will commit to one’s continuous, holistic growth and improvement.

A friend introduced me to the biggest asset needed to ensure I live a balanced life–involving God in all the things I do. The Sto. Niño de Paz Greenbelt Chapel in Makati, where I serve as church commentator and lector, helped me better understand that facing liabilities and turning them into assets can improve lives.

Somehow, balancing my career and family became much easier. It’s not that the problems and challenges have disappeared, but knowing someone much greater than ourselves is there to help and guide us keeps me at peace.

The challenges of being a working mother never ends. Once you become a mother, you’ll never stop being a mother, even if your children have their own families. A handful of stories about motherhood deeply moved me.

The depth of emotions people express for their mothers is astounding. Many talk about the sacrifices their mothers made. Others, how courageous their mothers are. Others share the inspiration and encouragement they received from their mothers.

No other love is more widely expressed than that of a mother’s love. Truly, there’s no friendship, no love, like that of a mother’s.

I wish to thank my mother–the reason I am who I am today. And who I’m today includes my desire and commitment to be the best both at home and at work.

Mai Sigue-Bisnar is a Partner of Audit & Assurance. She is also the head of the Markets Group of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 900 staff members. For your comments, please email mai.sigue-bisnar@ph.gt.com or PAGrantThornton.marketscomm@ph.gt.com. For more information about P&A Grant Thornton, visit our website www.grantthornton.com.ph.

 

As Published in The Manila Times dated 18 July 2018