Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why I Work

I read an article Dear Daughter, Here's Why I Work and I thought I would do the same. People give me guilt about working. Not being home all the time for JED. So here it is, why I still work, for posterity and hopefully, JED will read it one day and understand why there are nights that it is only Packrat that gets them to bed and why on the weekend afternoons, I am never home.

But before I start, I would like to first say that I have utmost respect for Stay At Home Mums for all that they do because I think it requires a very strong constitution to do so.

Anyway, here it goes. 


Dear JED,

First up, let me just say that the days that I have to leave the house to go to work and you are home, are the hardest for me. Yet, I do it. I go to work, despite Muffin wailing "Mommy, no go work.", Evan saying " I need you to spend time with me" and Jordan whispering "Mommy, I missed you just now." All 3 comments/ edicts  shatter my heart and make me want to drop everything and hug you tight and not let you go.

So here's 10 reasons why I don't.
1. I start with the most practical. The 3 of you are expensive. The amount of food you consume, your school fees, your gym/ tennis/ ballet/ swimming lessons aren't free. That's not to include the clothes, the toys, the books and the vacations that you want to take.

2. I spent a long time in school and uni and every time your Bob Ah Gong had to pay fees for it, he would say the same thing, "you're a girl, you know? I don't need to educate you so much." That followed with "Are you going to stop work and waste all your education when you have children?" when I got married. So, in a sense, I work because Bob Ah Gong stressed and worried about money for 18 years (I was in school/ uni for a total of 18 years!) and I don't want him to think that it was all for naught.

3. I work because I feel that need to know what is going on out there in the world. It's not just about reading the newspapers but actually being out there working with people, interacting and carving out something that is my own. It also helps me have something to say when Papa comes home. One thing that Papa and I used to do a lot of before you all came along was to talk and chat about our days and what we had read or seen out there. I want to still be able to do that. No doubt, all your shenanigans are the first things to be regaled when he comes back; but after that, it is important that we have other things to connect on as well. We were a couple before you came along and we will be long after you leave and move out. It would be great if we had things to say to one another then too and knew how to do so. 

4. I work because it makes me feel that I do something in my life other than take care of you. There are days when I want to keel over because I am exhausted from driving and picking you up from everywhere and then have to go to work after that; those are the days where I wish I didn't have so much on my plate. But I know that the day will come when you won't need me to drive you around so much. And when that day comes, I want to still be able to fill my days without going stir crazy, dying my hair blue and bugging the beejeezus out of you.

5. I work because it makes my brain feel alive. No offence meant to Splat the Cat, the Gruffalo or the Cranky Bear  but if that and playing My Little Pony with you were all I did all day, I would be very cranky and most possibly take it out on you. Working gives me a chance to be away from you for a while, miss you quite a bit and be happy to see you and happy to hear what you have to say or do when I get back.

6. At the same time, when I am not there with you, I know that you learn to be more independent. You have learnt to call me to ask for permission to do things. You are close to your grandma and grand aunt and have learnt things from them that I couldn't possibly teach you (like sing rhymes in Cantonese). You learn about boundaries and to code switch (You know there are things you can get away with when Grandma and Ee-Por are around and not with us). You can also do things without me if necessary and that makes me most proud.

7. I also know that I am setting an example for all of you by doing this. Mama worked while I was growing up and so did Auntie Threez. And I was always very proud of their accomplishments. Jordan, now that you've seen me go to work but still hang out with you and be there for you most of the time, hopefully, you will feel that you have a choice as well. Evan and Muffin, I hope that by doing this, you will understand why your future wives might want to make the same choice. If they choose not to work, I hope you will support them too though because that's what Papa would have done. Plus, I hope that you guys will be proud of me and of what I do.

8. I work also to teach you and show you that work and loving you are not exclusive things. All around you, in school, on television and even the adults in your presence, the message is that the moms who really love their kids don't go to work but it is okay for papas to do so. I want to teach you that I love you even if I work and actually more so because I do. Your Papa works and his love for you is never questioned, even when you don't see him for a day or for 3 weeks because he's had work overseas.

9. I work because I want to show you, especially Jordan, that motherhood is not the end of things. It's not about trying to get everything out of your system before you have kids and trading one life for another. It's about growing. I work in different ways than I did before you guys came along. I used to sleep early, wake up early, grade papers and go in for a full day's work. Now, I work after you leave for school and in the evenings when Papa is around. On top of that, I actually have JED Packs, something I didn't have before you came along. I want you to see that being a mommy doesn't preclude you from doing other things outside of raising children.

10. Most importantly, I work because I love it. I love the feeling of being in a classroom and opening the eyes of my students to the world. I love teaching them the same things I teach you three about empathy, compassion and integrity. And I love knowing that what I do for them, they carry on with them long after they've left my classroom; and in that way, I've made their lives just that little bit richer.

So here are the reasons why I work. And I am thankful that I have had the ability to decide if I wanted to work or stay home. And I am eternally grateful to have found a job that allows me to be home when you are and at work when you aren't. It wasn't about choosing between you and working. It never was about that. It was about choosing between being your mom at home or being your mom while being able to work.

I love you always.

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  1. My favourite post from Diaperbag to date!