Does A Work-Life Balance Really Exist?

A hectic job, an even more hectic social life, managing the house and a new born child – Shagun Mehandru is indeed a superwoman who tells you her tales of how she manages her life.  

A full time Tech job on wall street, 3 restaurants, a social life, and now a baby added to this mix. Can a decent work-life balance exist?

We waited 5 years for him. My husband is a chef/restaurateur in NYC with a work ethic that I had never previously witnessed, as I belonged to a blue-collar family of 8-6 working hours. Sure, being married to a restaurateur sounds very exciting, but is it? The every night late nights, the weekends spent working, the never ending events to entertain his clients, the holidays that we could never take on the actual holidays, the endless parties and birthdays that I had to attend alone, making random excuses for him because he was working…thrown in with my corporate job that I loved; would any of that change once we have a child? It would, but only for me.

The 4 months of maternity leave were blissful. My mom spent that time with us, which meant there was little change in my schedule as she was very hands-on and completely took over the baby. But maternity leave didn’t last forever. My mom flew back to India, leaving me with a fully trained nanny, as I went back to work, full time.

The first few weeks back at work were horrific. I looked forward to the days of getting ready at 7am and not being in my sweats till 4 pm, of having meaningful conversations with adults that were not my nanny or my husband, and just back to being a 37-year old educated, intelligent, opinionated and career-driven corporate American worker. Now, feelings of guilt, abandonment and frustration were coupled in with sleepless nights, high on caffeine and low on self-esteem.

That is when it hit me. This will be the REST of my life or at least the next 5 years till he’s off to school, and I will have to make this mythical work-life balance, work.

I would be in the middle of a meeting, waiting for a text from my nanny (look how cute he’s looking today!), or I would be presenting a deliverable to 100 people in a global conference, again all eyes on my phone (he has a 102 fever, you need to come home right away), or I could be at my desk eating lunch because I only have 3 min in between meetings, watching my nanny cam, waiting for my nanny to do something wrong so I could fire her and then have an excuse to be home all day till I find a replacement.

But I did this to myself. I chose to come back to work. Financially, I didn’t need to. Mentally, I had to. Then why am I struggling? Why am I feeling guilty for a decision I made in a sound state of mind? Why am I angry and frustrated with my husband whose life and schedule hasn’t changed, yet mine has? Why does he not wake up at 1 am, 3 am and again at 5 am for those nights of teething, fever, and hunger? Why is he asleep so soundly, while I will never be able to sleep the same again, as I am so afraid I won’t hear him crying out for me.

Now that he is almost a year old, I have learnt to live with it all - my job, the stress on all ends, my husband’s career, our social life, weekends spent on play dates and birthdays, vacations, with no real free time to myself, and I am OK with all of it. I’ve realized that we all have a choice, and this is solely mine, and mine to live with. My father worked very hard to put my sisters and me through school and give us the best education possible. Would my sole purpose in life now be to be a stay-at-home mom, and will I let diapers, formula and play dates define me? Will my son resent me for being away all day, or will I make him proud some day? I guess, time shall tell….

Author Profile
Shagun Mehandru is the Vice President in the IT Risk division at Morgan Stanley in NYC. She started her career with Deloitte after obtaining her Bachelor’s degree from George Mason Univ. She along with her husband own and operate 3 Indian restaurants and also have a growing wedding catering business, where she heads marketing, social media and PR.

Suggested Articles

Leadership Lessons