I know. Writing and reading this post might be too dramatic to start our 2016. But as I said, welcoming the new year brings some kind of sentimentality. We congratulate ourselves for surviving the previous year and at the same time looking forward to a better 12 months ahead. We reflect on things that we will try and hope to achieve.
I think I’ve mentioned this hundred times before that my life-long dream is to be a stay-at-home mom or ideally a working-from-home mom so I can take care of the kids full time.
Being a working mom is not easy. (OK! Before I get some hateful comments that being a stay-at-home mother is not a walk in the park, I agree with you. I haven’t experience staying at home full-time except when I was on maternity leave for 4 months which I soooo love. But yes, I agree that being a mother, may it be a working mom or stay-at-home, has its own challenges. This observation is my own musing and not based on research 🙂 ) More than the physical demand of it, the emotional roller coaster that all working moms go through is really what brings us to the edge. How many times you wished you were there when your baby made her first step and not just learn about it from the caregiver? How can our little prince said the word ‘tita’ first before ‘mama’? We want to be there everytime they fall and we want to be the one who kisses their ‘boo-boo’. Or tutor them ourselves and not rely with other people.
But reality is we cannot. We cannot physically be with our children all the time because we have to work. We leave the house at 6 or 7am and return after 12 hours or so. We only have time to chit chat a little, eat dinner then off to bed.
As much as we want to pick them up and drop them off to school, to prepare snacks while they study, to attend all the parent-teacher meetings, all the concerts and school activities, to play with our super hyper-toddler and hold their hands while they take their afternoon nap, we simply cannot. And the worst part is when our children are sick but we cannot skip work that day.
And the guilt of not being there is painful. The guilt consumes us. And you wonder how other mothers seem to be doing this motherly tasks so easy. How can they be so gentle and loving and selfless. You wonder why are you sacrificing the family for a career? Can we just live a simple life and let our husband provides for us?
On top of all these guilt and trying to be a nominee for best mother of the year, here we are wanting to have some ‘me’ time as well. As much as you want to spend every single second of your free time to your children, you also yearn some moments for yourself. A time to read, watch your favorite tv show, to paint, to write, to blog, to have coffee with friends. Something that you want to do for your own sanity. Because you feel that you also deserve having precious time with yourself. BUT YOU FEEL GUILTY AFTERWARDS. Or even before you started doing it, or while doing it. So you ended up NOT enjoying your ‘me’ time and swore-off that you will spend more time with the kids next time. Ahhhhhhhh. You understand the roller-coaster analogy now right?!
And how come fathers don’t experience these emotions? My conclusion is because they are just expected to be a good provider, to be the disciplinarian (or spoiler), to be the silly and funny dad, and that’s it. Moms are expected to be the homemaker, nurse, cook, nutritionist, teacher, secretary, and accountant. We are expected to raise obedient, respectful and smart children. We should be able to teach our kids how to eat their vegetables and learn how to pray. We have to be all these plus be a good wife and excellent employee as well. Talk about being a superwoman right?
Again, I will repeat. Being a working mom is not easy. But you know what? I don’t think that it’s too difficult either. Other working moms older than us survived it. Their children turned out to be mature adults even with just minimal supervision growing up from their mothers. They seem to be successful and living their life well, which, at the end of the day, is our goal as a parent.
To avoid depression, I am always telling myself that what I’m doing is already my best. I am giving 100% of my capacity as an employee, as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a sister and friend. Ok, maybe not 100% all the time but surely my best. I am trying to feel at peace and forgive myself whenever I feel the guilt of not being a good mother.
And aside from psyching myself, I also do practical things to put me in control. For me, it’s not enough to just forgive myself or be sorry. I have to make actions to alleviate my guilt. And here are some of the things I try/will try to incorporate into my life every day.
* Continue preparing a daily study guide for my son. I usually prepare it at night and he will answer it the following day after he comes home and eaten his lunch. I will then check it as soon as I reach in the evening.
* I prepare his uniform and school snacks the night before. These small acts make wonder for me. I don’t prepare his breakfast hence I feel bad for being a mother who doesn’t wakes up at 4am to cook healthy and nourishing breakfast. For the longest time, I felt guilty about it but when our Tita Beth left, I took the responsibility of doing these tasks and now I don’t feel that bad anymore. At least I am doing something for him.
* For myself, I promised that I will blog at least once a week. It’s my stress reliever.
* Leaving the office on time, most of the time. I won’t get an award for staying late anyways.
* I try not to check my work e-mails when I’m at home although I accept calls.
* Aside from asking ‘How’s your day?’ which only gets the same answer everytime which is ‘Good’, I also ask my son the question ‘What do you want to tell me today?’. He usually replies with ‘Nothing’ but with a little more prodding, he will start to be animated and tell me stories about his classmates and what really happened that day. This gives me joy knowing that he can still tell me things.
* Playing with my daughter or talking to her at least for 30 minutes a day. Full, undivided attention without mobile phones or tv. It could even be during bedtime.
* Unless it’s very critical that I am in the office that day or if the meeting cannot be rescheduled, I will try my best to attend all my children’s activities. If I fail, I promise not to beat myself into it.
* Writing a to-do list not only for my office tasks but for family tasks as well such as doctor and dental appointment, making sure vaccines are updated, buying their snacks personally, etc.
* Organize our bedroom’s desk. This table gets so cluttered in no time and causes me stress most of the time. By clearing/throwing anything on top of it, we can make use of this table for other things and not just keeper of our clutter.