Recently I was asked to introduce myself professionally, as in, from a work point of view. Although I’m now a jack of many trades, and I could have also talked about what I’ve done in the past, I realized that there is nothing that makes me prouder or gives me more sense of achievement than saying that I am a mother.
I often have other mums who say “Hats off to you, I could never stay home with the kids”, that they’d be driven crazy, etc. It always puzzles me when people say that because really, I admire them for having to go to work and run the household after work!
Of course there are times when I miss the dynamism of work (or, life outside the house), the comraderie of colleagues, wearing clothes without any paint or food dropped on it, and deciding what to eat for lunch for JUST YOURSELF. I think that the hustle and bustle of being in an office and/or not having any bodies below the age of 10 years old, is so much more engaging. Life at home, on the other hand, can often be boring, dull, and repetitive and often needs to be fueled by caffine or a stiff drink after bedtime. Because you know, the day is just filled with activities that are just so exciting! Like clearing the potty! Cleaning bums! Doing primary school Chinese! Supervising painting!
Sometimes when I think about how far my peers have come in their careers, for a fleeting moment, I wonder what I could be doing now. But it’s something that I never dwell on. I started my family in my 30’s, and I have been blessed to have had an interesting enough career before the kids came along. I might not have been anyone worth mentioning or even in an admirable position, but I had plenty of opportunities to travel (everywhere, except Africa and Antartica) and work with people who were inspirational and fun. I’ve also had the chance to work for managers who have been inspirational and learned so much from them. Many colleagues will be lifelong friends.
More importantly, I also had the opportunity to suffer in a role which was uninspiring and bordering on torturous. I dragged my feet to work everyday until when I did leave, it was like FREEDOMMMMMM!! I am sure that if I’d just come off the bat from my most memorable working experience, I might be more wistful about returning to work. I am also sure the last not-so-great experience that made me realize that there was nothing more worthy of my time and attention than the little monkeys. Everyday when I’m with them, even when they are disagreeable or difficult, I am grateful that my husband is able to bear the burden of bringing home the bacon, and even with my limited patience and capabilities (I am no superwoman ok), we are both grateful that at least one of us is at home with the kids. And as they are growing and becoming more independent, it is much less crazy at home.
I feel extremely lucky that I have flexible work arrangements so I don’t have to worry about going to an office, offending my boss, or deal with extreme work stress. Occasionally there are meeting or workshops which bring me back to the outside world. Friends often ask if I’ll go back to full time work. I’m very sure I’d do a crap job trying to juggle both a full time career and the household, and probably prone to becoming a screaming banshee, but that’s just me. And I didn’t even add household chores into the mix.
Anyway, that’s my story. For me, the children are my life’s work. Maybe I could be out there changing the world, doing something “useful” and “valuable”. But they have only one mummy, and to them, I am the world.
But oh, the next time you start thinking, “I couldn’t stay home with the kids, it would drive me crazy!”, just remember – those little monkeys were created by you, so essentially, wouldn’t that be you driving yourself crazy? 😀