As I dragged my feet along, this linky happened! Perfect kick-on-the-behind to finish this and post it up before the end of the month.
So. Why am I an FTWM? How did I come to decide upon this apportionment of time spent at the office and at home?
As I mentioned before, I had always seen myself as an SAHM, and had a 14+ month stint at it when my first child was born. Thereafter I went back to work, since I knew we wanted another child, and 4 months of paid maternity leave was too good to give up.
The regained sense of balance that washed over me when I went back to work was a little shocking at first.
It surprised me, that his words became true to me. Rather than being snappy at home 60%, okay 70% of the time, I could come home from work fresh (okay so my job is not very demanding) and ready to face the kids. Very importantly, I could give more allowance to my parents. Rather than have them go out to work, they'd rather look after my kids so I could go out earn some pretty decent dough and support them. Their grandchildren are their greatest joy (I didn't turn out too badly but nothing quite compares to K&B in their star-studded eyes), and before I was pregnant both times, my mum volunteered to look after them. Indeed that was a blessing.
And when their health made it hard for them to be the main caregivers, the helper who has known my hubby since he was 10 (and worked for his family for 13 years) agreed to work for us. That was the second major blessing. This allowed me to leave B at home with Aunty Susan with full peace of mind, as the hubby and I walked K to school every morning before we went to work. After school, the gramps would come over for lunch and stay till dinner, so Aunty Susan has 'reinforcements'.
So I work, with the calm assurance that both kids are in great hands, and in the care of family members as well as a helper who really loves them.
I do love my job (oh how do I count the ways), and understanding supervisors mean that i can take childcare leave at very very short notice, and goodness knows how often kids get high fever these days. That helps me live with myself a little. :P
|At the Istana|
There is always some residual nagging guilt that my kids might take this seeming prioritization of work over them, against me. Even if not now, maybe later.
But I assuage it by equivocating that I do spend some 12 hours with them, and I care for them for at least 8 hours a day, since we co-sleep (and I used to nurse interminably through the night). On weekends, our helper takes a back-seat. Every Sunday and public holiday, she gets the day off to go out. Whenever we are around, even on weekdays, we take over, from changing poopy diapers to feeding and bathing the kids. So in some ways, I don't feel any less present than an SAHM whose kids go to full day childcare.
Though I must admit that by most Sunday evenings, I find myself yearning for the placid equanimity of the office, the predictable universe marred only by infrequent boss tantrums and meltdowns. It does seem ironic that at times, I find myself on the brink of falling ill after the weekend, possibly from weariness. But I'd be able to restore my health slowly by Friday, given that office work is not physically strenuous, and I can sit at my desk downing copious amounts of warm water without having to
Ultimately, I figured a balanced, happy mum would do them (and myself) more good in the long run.
Moreover, there were enough testimonies from friends and family; some who are really close to their FTWMs, and others who have strained relationships with their SAHMs, and the latter would usually say that their mums being SAHMs had contributed somewhat to that. Of course these examples do not the rule make, but they are enough to help me realise that it wasn't a straightforward correlation of SAHM = great relationship with my kids.
The living example of my mum was also a warning of what I could become, given the similarity in our genetic make-up, and what staying at home protractedly could do to our psyche. Our relationship is a case in point of an SAHM who did not develop a great relationship with her only daughter.
SAHMs who love the life and have wholly embraced the harder path have my greatest respect, and it irks me when others run them down. In fact, I find myself leaping to the defense of SAHMs when the ignorant rant about how they do not deserve childcare subsidies because they are "shaking leg at home". As if!
All in all I acknowledge that I've been very blessed. I might have become an SAHM if I did not have my current options open to me. My (many) friends who are SAHMs might not have become so if they had the options I did. Ultimately each family has its unique circumstances in a particular season of life.
I count myself yet more blessed as my two lovely children consistently choose me over everyone else (except for B, when it comes to my own dad, when it's bedtime!! But am happy to let such a stellar grandpapa pip me at times.).
I look at the mother kissing her 2 year old son's head, clutching him warm against her body as she walks from the bus stop to the childcare centre in her high heels, work clothes rumpling up, heart aching so. And I KNOW, this mother does not love her child any less. Not one bit.