A WAHM's Work-in-progress: Go Back To Work or Remain At Home?

I have tonnes of work right now and my mind is not totally in a good state due to many developments. But since little jj is finally asleep, I thought I should type out what's been bugging me.

Choices in life is so tough to make. You choose one path, stick to your guns and then realise that other opportunities arise and that you should grab it because it may not come again that soon or easily. Then, things happen and you make one decision which you realised in time it may not be the right choice because things are always changing in life and one must be able to adapt to changes in order to constantly improve and not be rigid or too complacent.

I recalled the time after our PM tabled the 2010 budget in parliament. Days after that, comments were aired and one came from a personality regarding a suggested pay hike for women as more and more of us have decided to leave the workforce due to the challenges and change of focus after having a family. Somehow, I feel that it is such a lame suggestion from a man, not well thought of and only to address one part of a problem… typical in most political environments.

I feel that no matter how much you’re offering to a woman, her family [usually] would come first. I am not saying that women who work are not family-oriented… we always have our own reasons to why we work or resort to being a housewife – those choices are made after weighing all options. I know that before I decided to stay home, I could never imagine surviving this far as I calculated how much I’d need to stay sane and normal. And that if I hadn’t made that jump, I would never see things the way I see now. Therefore, I am talking about some of us who stay home or work from home while taking care of a baby on our own and sometimes wondering what it’d be like to go back to work.

An opportunity arose with a promising factor but things will also present their ways to force you into taking a stand for the choices you make. And coming back to the point of a pay-hike to career-minded women with a family, will not promise anything for some who’s been taking care of their children on their own and loves doing stuff for their family.

I would like to be able to be there for my kids when they get sick. I’ve been told by so many friends that their inability to obtain extended leave for their sick children only allow them to take one to three days leave at one go, to tend to their sick kids. For those who could only take one day off, they would usually just send their sick kids to the nursery fully aware that their children are not fully recovered and risk infecting other healthy kids at the nursery. In the end, everyone gets sick over and over again.

I was working when I had my first child and since I was staying with my parents then, that part of responsibility never really hit me that hard as my father would always encourage me to go to work while my mom or him took care of my eldest. I could still go for my work trips and come home late every time, from that demanding requirement of being in the advertising industry.

But now that I’ve taken care of little jj on my own for more than a year and how much I've kinda had it with office politics, her well-being posed a question that even I had surprised myself… what I could do before, I couldn’t repeat today. Seeing how well she sleeps at the comfort of a clean and healthy home environment where there is only mommy and abang in the morning, I know she will have her much needed, uninterrupted, rest while mommy’s stress is only on the deadlines of any current work pending on this table.

I do not need to constantly check-in to what’s happening at the office and I do not have anyone calling me to ask about things that any of them can find on their own at work.

There are plenty of sacrifices as a WAHM or SAHM. The income you obtain is the result of your efforts – you tend to earn more when you work harder (or smarter) although my line of work is well known for late payments. You’ve gotta forgo some needs that are not that important and there was one month where I would just sit quietly at home so that I could stretch whatever’s left in my bank account a little longer. But you know with babies/kids, they are adaptable… the usual shopping mall visits became outdoorsy trips or visits to her grandparents for her evening walks. She was ok with it, really. As long as mommy was at her side and she gets her usual dose of boobies.

I read of some status on facebook regarding this issue – some would go down hard on their babysitter or maids while some, full of guilt for having to work. Since I do not like to judge people, I would say that whatever a mommy choose to do, is for what she thinks is best for her family. So, we all adapt to what we think is more important. But one must realise that you simply cannot have it all in life… some want to work part time yet have the best baby-sitter in the world. Some of us mommies might not be the best baby-sitter though, and so we address our needs differently. Like me, I think I am happier taking care of my baby but I might not be totally excited in other areas. Whatever we can compromise on what we truly prioritise shall then overcome whatever we are not happy about because to me, little jj is well take care of, InsyaAllah safer in my care, and that immense satisfaction I get when she starts talking and picking up words she hears from us in the family. You can’t have it all. You simply cannot be that greedy. Life is not like that. There would always be some void somewhere, I’m sure, in whatever the situation. One must simply make the best of what one already have.

And I am not talking about being complacent either. I know that some would say we shouldn’t be satisfied with what we have and should always reach out for the stars. Yes…. You can do that. My point is, when you are reaching for the stars, you may compromise some other areas that need your equal attention. You cannot have it all at one go just like no one individual is perfect. There would always be some flaws somewhere, hidden or visible. Be grateful for what you already own and don't let go in hopes of grabbing something else in that small grasp, unless what you're holding isn't that important anymore.

On Monday, I met up with a friend who came back for a short break from Sydney and she told me that she took a year’s leave from work. What was supposedly a 6-month plan turned to an extended 6 more months. So, I told her that the longer she takes to go back to work, the longer it will be for her to want to go back to work. For us used-to-be-career-minded-women, money shall always be ‘some’ concern as we were so used to having a good monthly income where it covers repeated shopping sprees in any seasons without getting any approval from our other half. Now, as much as you can spend as you would before, there would always be that concern of saving for rainy days, spending wisely and the needs VS the wants. Both ways, working or not, those traits are just as empowering, depending how you want to look at it – having money is power or that having this sense of self-control is power to you. Take what’s positive and make that work for you.

We will forever have needs… money will never be enough no matter how much you make but what is it that you really want out of life and out of your family? There’s always a solution to everything and in anything you choose, there’ll be pros and cons. Always. Nothing is complicated unless we make them seem complicated. If we’re not happy about our situation, stop complaining and start taking actions. But stick to the choices you make and don’t blame others if things doesn’t turn out the way you expected.

I thought I was ready to go back to work. Signs were there and a good opportunity arrived at my doorstep. But I only saw that one opportunity in one area… there are other opportunities as well in other areas. So, what’ll it be? Consistent amount of dough at the end of the month every month while compromising time for the family, or inconsistent (but manageable) income with flexi hours and plenty of time spent with my little angel? Both shall make me happy... but only on one part of my self-satisfaction. Which is more important? The answer suddenly became very obvious to me.

Wait… I have always had that answer written in front of me. And it was really up to me to see it.

P/S: Come to think of it, I do have a friend who seems to have it all - a great family, money, power, reputation and everything else. But she still says she envies my life and want to be me - something I totally do not comprehend til now. So, tip of the day for WAHMs or SAHMs who need motivation - stop looking at others' lifestyles and start looking at your own ;)


Konot said...

beb.. i always wanna be like you!! ALWAYS!!
looking at jada's pic, if i were you i can NEVER leave her.. mcm tu la i rasa with my sofeya, every morning when i wake up and i see her smiling face.. guilty sgt okeh? coz later she'll be crying like mad bila i nak pergi kerja..


but then again.. the grass is always greener on the other side kan? i try to be grateful with what i have and stop envying others.. (you!! hahahah)..

sitisabri said...

Hi there,
I wish I can be WAHM too. Seeing my lil Zara growing up in front of my eyes every single day would be a pleasure. As u said, we all have priorities in life so we got to choose. My priority is to have a stable income early on so I can save money for my lil angel's future. :) Who knows in a few years I might have enough to choose to be a WAHM.

Btw, I always love to read your writing and this one really hits me so I commented. Here's another hi from me ;)


Omecool20 said...

As usual, your writings are spot on :D ... for all of us, it is all about the choices we make kan ... and you chose the choice that was the best for you and your family, sebab you know what you want :) .. that's the key.. u know what you want ;-) ...

Yani Fadzil said...

This post couldn't have come at a better time. I've been wrestling with the same thing for awhile now - I've always known that I can never be a full SAHM, and now that my "deadline" is almost over, I find myself a little excited at the idea of working full-time again, yet wrecked with guilt at the idea of leaving Elika behind in my mother's capable hands. I find myself telling my daughter to "start walking before mama starts working," because I can't bear to miss such a moment ...

toughcookie said...

dear konot,
haha... you're so cute... paling cute when you asked for my advise on how to wean your darling off your bm... i sendiri pun terkapai2 haha...

hi siti,
that sounds like a good plan :)

toughcookie said...

:) ya... and a whole lotta other stuff as well ;)

hi yani,
oh, so you're going back to work? that's great, babe... if my mom had volunteered to take care of jada, i wouldn't even think twice about going back to work as i would at least have the assurance that jada will be safe and given full attention.

ya, i guess the sad part would be missing out on elika's developments but i guess we do what we have to do. btw... we still owe each other a 'date' ;)

emly2175 said...

Greedy. Greedy for money and greedy for time to be with our children 24-7 .

Your entry reminds me of my recent post as a 3 months SAHM. Until today i still miss being there standing at the doorstep waiting for Arissa to come back from school. And I miss being with Aisyah 24 hours aday.

The thought of being SAHM is there. which is why i'm preparing everything for it . I'll never know that one day i may quit my job and be a SAHM.

momster said...

whatever the choice, as long as we're happy with it, we'll get on fine. :)

p.s. I noticed you linked to my blogspot address. My wordpress is much more active actually! ;) thanks for linking too!

toughcookie said...

good luck to you, babe ;)

oh ok... will do the necessary! thanks for informing me of this...

KambingBujang said...

no wonder i havent seen you kat office, rupanya k.juan dah jadi WAHM. how i envy to be u

toughcookie said...

hi huda,
lohhh... dah dekat 2 tahun dah kot tak kerja kat situ dah... last sekali kerja kena panjat S3000 kat singapore masa i was 4 months pregnant.. cuak ooo...

i think you can also obtain income from home seeing how well you blog. nowadays, blogging je boleh buat duit cuma tak sebanyak yang kita dapat from working in the oil and gas industry kan... takpe... huda still muda... get as much experience, kerja puas2 sampai rasa nak muntah (haha!) lepas tu boleh berenti ;P

nelcyndana said...

salam perkenalan toughcookies,

After a year of unpaid leave, I choose to resign. So now I'm a SAHM & inspired to be a WAHM like you. I don't know how to say it but I totally agreed with everything you said. I just can't believe how similar our point of view. I hope to be as tough as you are in defending my choice of staying home. May allah bless your famly always.