"What?!?" and usually punctuated with a look of disbelief. "Why do you even work if you are a homeschooler?" is another common question and some, promptly give me the look. So it is a double whammy for me.
Well, I work for many reasons. Primarily, I work because I want to be able to provide a better quality of "life" for my child. Now, before I get flogged by all the comments that say Money is not Everything, I want to say that I certainly agree with that statement. But based on Dumpling's schedule, it does not make sense for me to stay at home the whole day.
Dumpling attends Chinese classes daily. After her classes, she gets transported back home / to my parents', takes her lunch and have a nap. When she wakes up, there's routine care of snack time, playground time and shower time. This has been very much the same routine since years back.
I did stay at home intermittently for months after delivery and also taking a break in between jobs. After assessing for a bit, I have to say that I am not "missing out" much because I am only able to engage Dumpling around 5odd pm after she is done with all the routine care.
Comparing this to if I were working, I'd get home at 6+ and I am only missing out an hour a day technically. Hence, I decided to stick with it.
I enjoy the financial independence. I like having the ability to pay for Dumpling's 'things' be it her activities or bringing her to plays. I like that I am able to give my parents a token sum every month. This seems to be a very 'Chinese' thing in me; my parents are old and I do not want them to have to worry about me or having to worry about money.
I also like having my own money where I am able to head out and splurge on theatrical productions, books, lavish meals once in a while. More than that, I am thankful that I am able to help out in the family than having the man do everything. It is certainly not cheap sending Dumpling for the various classes she attends and I am glad that I am able to contribute to it.
So are there challenges to be a working mum? Of course there are.
I miss her every minute of the day but I do not feel guilty about having to work primarily because as a homeschooler, my evenings are devoted entirely to her where we read, experiment and have fun learning Math. We have 3+ hours together every night including meal time. I also love my weekend soccer mum weekends where I arrange for play dates frequently for her with her friends where we catch plays, watch concerts, etc., together.
Things do get challenging when she's unwell too and I have to watch over / sponge her / administer medication throughout the night and then, heading back to work the next day. The first two nights are usually ok but after the third night, I usually feel like I am walking on air. :p
I did get questions if the bond with Dumpling is ok. My take on this is simple: whether we are working or non-working mums, all parents I believe, want the best for our child. The bond between a parent and a child is not measured entirely and solely on the number of hours the parent is at home but, what they make out of the time when they are together and if it is spent meaningfully.
I dare say that Dumpling and I are very close and though she is growing up fast, I am proud to have raised a child who gives thanks for the blessings that we have. One who still asks for kisses and is not too prideful to admit her mistakes and apologises for them. So yes, I do think I am doing pretty ok as a working mum. But most importantly, I am doing OK as Dumpling's mum and the mum that Dumpling has fun moments with, loves and enjoys - working or not.
(Photo courtesy of my talented girlfriend Eleen Lim)