(Image courtesy : guinnmc.blogspot.com via Google)
There is a lot of talk about how things are going to be when working women decide to stop working in order to be full time parents. Well, there was a time when we went through a similar phase too. Now, in retrospect, it seems like a very very long time. If you want numerics and want me to be specific, surprisingly, it has not been that long, after all. But it does seem like a lifetime.
A timeline, if I may, that has been filled with irreplaceable memories. Now when I look back, I wonder what it would have been like for me if I’d been a working mom all along, had I missed out on all those milestones. I guess we would still have taken it in our stride but I do thank God for having given me the opportunity to be with Macadamia and Pecan, as a full time mother, during their early growing years.
Quitting my job was, quite obviously not a decision that we made that easily. I guess it never is - for anyone. For starts, there are so many factors to consider – a sudden change from a two income family to a one income family. There is always the fact that one has to reconcile oneself with the idea that colleagues who were on a level playing field when you quit, would advance up on the career ladder and end up where you’d eventually dreamed of being, one day. Despite all these and more, the joy of having been with the kids as they grew up has indeed been a beautiful experience. There have been insane moments when I questioned my own sanity, but to put it simply – it was definitely worth it, it was more than worth it. It has been a journey in itself, a journey that has been most self-fulfilling and gratifying. It has been rewarding beyond words.
I’d taken a break from my career eight years back, to raise Macadamia and Pecan and somewhere along the way, they seem to have grown up. They’re not babies anymore.
Last year was a very eventful one. We made two consecutive trips to India during Jan and Feb of last year. My father passed away in February and even after we got back to HK, my thoughts were a huge muddle. There seemed to be this yawning gap somewhere and I had no clue where. All I knew was it was there. It took a few long months to put those feelings and thoughts in place and sometime around August, I decided to try and get my TESOL done. Last November and December, while the TESOL course was on, were a couple of the most gruelling months I’d seen in a very long time. The kind of demands that the course placed in terms of time, energy and commitment had to be experienced to be believed. The entire family stood by me then too.
Once I got my TESOL certification, I slowly got back to getting my feet wet in terms of starting work. I started working as a freelance English teacher, taking up teaching assignments in various Primary and Secondary schools all over HK. I knew for a fact that I wanted a full time teaching position someday and now that it has indeed materialised, once again, those little seedlings of doubt are beginning to pop their heads up all around my head.
I realize one thing now. The decision to re-enter the realm of a full time working mother is often just as difficult as the decision to quit or leave ones job to become a full time mother. Taking that first step, either way, is difficult.
I always used to tell myself that I would get back to work when the children are independent enough. Now I realize that there is no magic window “timeframe” there either. Exactly how does one decide that the kids are “independent enough”? Trust me, it is difficult. Where the head says “they’re grown up enough to manage with the help of a helper” the heart throws innumerable questions right back “what if one of the kids fall sick ?” “what if they’re not able to have their dinner on time because you get late getting back home from work ?” ... the questions are aplenty.
Another source of discomfort is the fact that I now have to push myself out of what has, over the past eight years, definitely become my comfort zone. We have a steady routine wherein I know that I will be waiting for the kids when they get back home and more importantly wherein they know that I will be home waiting for them when they get back tired from school. All said and done, I had been around for them at any given time of the day or the night, over the past eight years.
I guess the hardest part of the transition from a Stay at Home Mom to a Working Mom is going to be the fact that some of the family duties get left behind. To be honest, I’m used to re working my schedule around the kids’ needs, I’m used to handling the fights that seem to crop up out of nowhere when you least expect, I’m used to kissing bruises away, I’m used to handling their mood swings cos invariably they come back home really tired from school, I’m used to handling their social calendars for them too – dropping them off for a birthday party here, fetching them from a birthday party there, I’m used to spending my evenings doing my Sudoku and Crossword puzzles in the park because I chaperone them to the park and stand guard over their water bottles and other “precious belongings” as they run and scoot all over the place.
Even now, a wee little bit inside my head still says “You’re going to miss all that, aren’t you ?”. Truth be told, “Yes. I’m going to miss all that.” But then again, such is life and like I mentioned to Macadamia in one of my earlier posts, it is nothing but change, it is nothing other than accepting change with grace simply because change is meant to be. Now I’m telling myself that every minute (well, virtually every minute) of my waking hours.
I know that this is going to be just another adjustment phase for all of us, a phase in which all of us are going to have to rewire our past habits and a phase wherein all of us are going to have to crawl out of our comfort zones. Now that is pretty much like pulling teeth – for, a comfort zone is like that quilt you like to snuggle into on cold, wintry days. It is like that quilt you just don’t feel like climbing out of. It is precisely like the warmth that the quilt affords you on cold days. In short, comfort zones are cozy. And all of us are going to have to venture out of our cosy little quilts, little by little, in little bits and parts, starting this very week.
As always, in this endeavour too, I’m vesting my faith on the One Above. For if there’s one thing we’ve realized in all these years of our lives, it is the fact that God never gives people anything He believes one cannot handle. If He has sent something your way, be it good or be it bad, rest assured and take heart from the faith that He has done so because He knows you can handle it.
And I totally second Mary C. Crowley when she says
“Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He’s going to be up all night anyways.”
If you’re reading this and have a couple more of minutes to spare, do wish us luck, will ya ??