On Saturday mornings, I bring my daughter to ballet and pretend that I’m a stay at home ‘mummy’ who waits for her children while leisurely having a Starbucks coffee. I am perfectly poised and groomed just like the women around me in the waiting area.
The reality is that I have zero makeup, my hair is unwashed and I’m starving. I go to the Mini-Stop nearby and have chips for breakfast. My daughter has Maltesers during snack time, while her classmates have cut fruit. If someone pulls out a fancy bento box, I wouldn’t be surprised.
But I don’t care. I love this ritual. Because I can tell that my little girl loves it, too. Mommy is just outside waiting for me?! She is so excited for Saturdays and I know our special time together is a big reason.
Welcome to the life of a working mom.
I’ve never known another way of life. I grew up with a working mother and I always assumed women worked the same way men do. I always assumed I was studying hard to make a future career. I entered motherhood the same way.
To my surprise, people were asking me whether I would go back to work. My boss sat me down with options to either have a “job” (meaning accept a career slowdown) or have a “career”. I guess she had seen her fair share. I appreciate those options so much now, but back then I felt like everyone was making it hard. I made the choice I’m living today… I still choose a career. Here’s the biggest, simplest reason why:
It’s Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. The story about a master who entrusted gold talents to three servants, and was pleased when two of them doubled their talents but revoked the talents of the servant who simply hid his away.
It’s what keeps me going to work everyday. I believe that it’s my duty to use my talents: that it gladdens Him, that it is doing His work on earth. Just as our talents are unique to us, so will our life choice be for ourselves.
To me, its message eases my guilty-mom worry and sanctifies the work that I do, to put malasakit into it. It makes me a good team player and a good boss, because the real spirit of sharing your talents makes you uncompetitive.
It even makes me efficient and challenge where I put my time away from my family : if I’m spending ten hours away from home, I better be making meaningful use of my talents. Or God help me, this yet-another meeting better be worth it.
On the surface, I have a corporate marketing job. It pays well. I have the “better life” my parents invested in while I was growing up. I give a “better life” to my daughter today.
On the surface, the perks can be all about money. I am half of my household’s financial independence and all the similar perks you’d expect from a dual-income household.
On the surface, the priorities get mixed up many awful, human times. With an ever-present guilt that what you’re doing is never as hands-on as SAHMs or that new enviable hybrid: the WAHMs.
My peace with the decision to choose a career lies beneath the surface. I have a job that gives me some power to expand myself to do good in more corners of my world and for more people apart from my home. My job description makes me practice talents on being self-aware, creative, and insightful of others – including my daughter. And though there may be more failure ahead in this choice, having made it makes me stretch myself to make the most of what I can do.
Our talents will lead us to the career choice we’re meant to do: a SAHM, a WAHM or a working mom… the toughest choice we may ever face in this life stage as moms may just be as simple as that.