Motherhood, Werk

The work/family dilemma

Officially, my maternity leave ended on Sunday and I should have been back at work on Monday. But at the point in time when I was making a decision regarding work, I chose to take an additional two weeks off to spend with my little man.

Initially, I was toying with the idea of resigning and caring for him full-time, or work part-time. Like many mothers who work, I was loathed to place my son with caregivers five days a week while I worked. I wanted more time to spend with my baby, I wanted to be with him, I wanted the opportunity to watch him grow and develop. It was especially poignant to me because given our circumstances and our difficulty-ridden journey to become parents, I felt that this could be my one and only chance to spend time with perhaps my one and only child.

I may never have the chance to baby another baby.

And yet, I was torn. I love Aidan, don’t get me wrong, he is the light and joy in my life. But I also enjoy what I do. I like interacting with the kids, I like having adult conversation with someone other than my husband on a daily basis. Plus, part-time work would mean half the pay with the same workload. And more importantly, I was doing well and I know that this was a role I could grow in.

In the end, practicality won out and I made the decision to go back to work full-time. It was a no-brainer, really: we needed that full income; Aidan would be in good hands; I wanted to give myself the chance to see if this is a career I can shine in. And I know that I will be a better and happier mother by continuing to work full-time.

But a part of me feels…sad. I wish I could be there for Aidan when he flips or crawls for the first time, or takes his first step, or says his first word. I know that my heart will die a little when his caregivers share with me about his milestones that happened while I am at work. I know that this perennial debate between family and work will rear its head every now and then. I know that I will question my decision each and every time Aidan does something new.

Looking on the bright side though, I’m glad that I have a job that allows me to leave on time. That means I can be home with Aidan before seven every weekday, a luxury many working parents don’t have. We can have our own routines in the mornings and at nights, and there are always weekends to spend with my little family.

And even if I can’t be there with him for his milestones first, we can create our very own firsts.

The first time he swims. The first time he tastes chocolate. The first time he calls me mama. The first time he plays with sand. The first time he takes the plane. The first time he sees the beautiful sunrise. The first time he kisses me. The first time he plays with the cats.

There are endless firsts that we can have together as a family and I am looking forward to making these memories. As a working mother. For now.

8 thoughts on “The work/family dilemma”

  1. It’s not an easy decision isn’t it? I was on no-pay leave until my boy turned 11 months and I have been working part-time the last 6 months. The part-time thingy was hard. I didn’t feel like a good worker, didn’t feel like a good mum most days. It’s been such a struggle to balance up. I finally decided to ditch the part-tome arrangement last week! Still very unsure of the decision but we’ll see how it goes.

    Hope you settle well when you head back to work 🙂

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  2. It’s so hard to go back to work! And yet, so rewarding 🙂 I went back four days a week. A couple of months in, my boss asked me how I was adjusting, if I didn’t mind working four full days (it is quite common back home for women to scale back to three) and I told him no, that I really enjoyed my job and loved going off to work – I just wished the week had an extra day so I could spend the same amount of time at home as at work.

    I had to give up my job to come to Singapore. So I’ve been on both sides of this one. And I can tell you: One isn’t easier or better or more enjoyable than the other, it’s just that the rewards and regrets are different. (And if the right opportunity knocked on my door, I’d be back to work in a flash, but that’s just me and my decision.)

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  3. Hey babe, are there days when you don’t have lessons? Or when you have lessons scheduled for the morning or the afternoon only? Could see if your boss can consider a work-from-home arrangement on non-teaching days/mornings/afternoons.

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  4. Thanks JY. 🙂

    ~Y: Oh! Whichever way you decide, all the best. Honestly think part-time work is tough to juggle and you did it for six months!

    Claudia: I hope this is for the best too.

    Katrijn: You are right, I think the pros and cons weigh quite evenly on both sides. It’s a matter of choice, there is no better or worse decision.

    Yi Lin: I wish we had such an arrangement like yours! But it just doesn’t work that way here.

    The Pleasure Monger: I love the tees too! They are from Threadless. We deliberately got matching tees for his first month party hee.

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