Friday, March 17, 2006
Working vs. Staying at Home
This entry is supposed to be a comment on Hsin’s musings on her decision to stay at home after the arrival of her first baby. She relates about how her career-oriented friends made her feel bad about having made that decision. But she has no regrets. She’s expecting another baby soon. I have a lot to say so I decided to post my comment here.
In this modern age when most of the women are entering the work force, there arises the battle between the working mom and the stay-at-home mom. You must have heard the arguments of both sides. There are career-oriented mothers who can’t imagine spending the whole day at home and there are those who just really need the income. Then there are those mothers who want to be with their children all day long so as not to miss out on their child’s development and first experiences.
I think I am sort of in between the working mom and the stay-at-home mom. I work at home, you see. (I’ve talked about working at home before. See links to related entries below.) I can’t imagine myself not working. I love taking care of my kids and the home but I’m not a domestic diva. My domesticity is very basic and really has been brought upon by necessity. I don’t bake from scratch and I cook not because I love doing it but because I need to feed my family. I can’t really spend the whole day everyday being just domestic. I have to do something else, like work. I’d love to volunteer or travel, or perhaps do crafts, but I need to work to help support my family.
Friends often ask me if I don’t have any intentions of going back to the office. You see, I am stuck in my position (which is far from managerial) as long as I am working at home. If I want to be trained for a higher position, I need to go back to the office. My friends at work have been promoted to higher positions since I left about five years ago. I’ve been left behind. And it doesn’t really bother me. I enjoy what I am doing. I have no ambitions of going up the corporate ladder. Some may find it odd, but that’s me. I am content with providing just enough for my family to get by. Don’t get me wrong. I’d take a higher income. Who doesn’t?
But I have been given with this wonderful opportunity to work at home, and I immediately grabbed it. Originally, I decided to work at home to save on daycare fees. I even doubted if I could work at home while at the same time looking after my youngest son who was still three years old then. But I began liking being at home. I’ve experienced dragging my kids out of bed as early as 6:00 a.m. Dealing with temper tantrums and rushing to make it on time at work can be very stressful. Now, I don’t have to rush the kids in the morning. We all have a relaxed breakfast together. I do my work when they are gone to school. I am home when they get home. Even when they get noisy and start to bicker, I can still continue to do my work. I have become immune to the distractions. It’s comforting to me that they are in my presence. They know that I am there if they need somebody to talk to especially if they’d have a rough day at school.
My kids need less attending to now. They were 3, 7, and 11 when I started working at home. I’ve experience leaving them at daycare and babysitters. But I don’t feel that I missed out on their development. I still experienced the firsts: the first smile, the first time they rolled over, the first step, all the other firsts. I also felt the guilt of leaving them at the care of someone else, especially that first day back to work. But I don’t regret it. I never did.
Some stay-at-home moms may claim that their kids are more well-rounded or more well-behaved than the ones who go to a babysitter or daycare. But I beg to disagree. I think working moms can also raise well-rounded children if they guide them in the right direction and spend enough time with them when they are not working.
I think there is no right or wrong choice with regards to mothers working or staying at home. Each mother has individual needs and she should decide depending on what she wants and what she thinks works best for her and her family.
Read more about my sentiments, challenges and experiences in working at home through the following links:
Confessions of a work-at-home mom
Downsides of working at home
The bliss of working at home
Working, appointments and dismal weather