I must be clear – I have always, always…from the moment I discovered that I was pregnant, considered myself a mother first before anything else. To me, my full time job is as a mother and not a worker. But y’d think that after one year of life as a working mother, I’d be fine with it – fine with the fact that my daughter spends most of her waking hours with another person, fine with the fact that I don’t and won’t have much control of what she picks up or learns from that person…
This week, my office moved and in a way, so did I. I went from spending twenty minutes travelling to and fro work to at least a good forty minutes. This morning, I left the house before Eva woke up. I watch her sleep, carress the hair off her face as she stirred a little and went back to sleeping again. And then I said goodbye, somewhat reluctantly. Chances are for the evenings, I’ll be back a good thirty minutes later. Many of my peers seem to be accepting of such a change but me? I actually felt miserable, so miserable that I spend three nights last week crying and wishing that I could be a stay-at-home mum (SAHM) again. I still feel miserable.
I really hate to accept the fact that my home is now like a hotel more than a home to my daughter, that I only spend less than 35 hours a week with her but more at the office…
Many people tell me that my daughter will still know who I am – the mother – and that sooner or later, I have to cut the apron strings but really, this has precious little to do with that. It has everything to do with how *I* see motherhood and parenting. No offense intended to many parents out there – we have to deal with our own little unique circumstances. For me, I want to be a proactive mother who is there every step of the way in my child’s formative years. To me, the early years are important in establishing not just good eating habits but also strength in character and personality. I don’t like to leave things to “fate” or “they’ll learn it as they get older” – to me, that’s just not good enough.
Sadly, in our culture here, we don’t really support proactive parenting – flexible working hours for industries like mine are not common so lets not even talking about things like coming to work three days in a week. The excuse is that people won’t be productive or worse, some people might abuse the system. We don’t provide enough incentive or benefits to parents, and when we do, single people complain that they are being left out. Honestly, do you think parenthood is the same as being single? How many parents out there can profess to be able to do anything and everything they like without a care in the world or come back in the wee hours of the morning every day?
I haven’t been able to share this openly until now because of existing stereotypical beliefs about the SAHM – that they are uneducated, ignorant, out of touch with the world, are sponging off their spouses, living a life of luxury which is typical of a tai tai and so forth. When I went back to work, the same people try to get me to pass off my duties as a parent to them with the excuse that this is the Asian way of parenting – being a weekend parent, “it’s the duty of the grandmother to take care of the grandchild full time”, so forth. Being a weekend parent, having your parents take care of your child, those are not the Asian way of parenting. It’s just what some people think parenting should be. I wish people didn’t confuse cultural traditions with their own personal beliefs or practices.
For now, I’ll just have to bear with things – and people say that going back to work is fun. Heh.