I met someone new at work recently. He was a guest and in the first three minutes of our introduction, he congratulated me on my pregnancy.
I smiled and said my thanks, and then he revealed that he and his wife were expecting their third child. Now, it was my turn to offer my congratulations. And then he asked me: “Do you plan to continue working?”
Woah. I mean, I had known the guy for barely five minutes. But I answered him anyway: Yes, I do.
“You don’t want to look after the kids yourself?” he pressed.
Eventually, I hope to be able to, I replied. But just not now.
“It’s better for the kids, you know,” he said.
I changed the subject.
Two years ago, when I was heavily pregnant with Aidan, I bumped into a male colleague in the pantry. As we made small talk, he suddenly said, “Can I ask you a personal question?”
Erm, sure, I replied, taken aback.
“Are you coming back to work after giving birth?” he asked.
Yes, I am, I said.
I excused myself and walked out of the pantry.
I really hate this whole FTWM vs SAHM talk. It’s absolutely pointless and simply fuels petty comments and biased opinions. And it piles the guilt onto mothers, something that we don’t need more of. As it is, mums are often ridden with guilt over one thing or another, and the last thing we want is to be judged for our choice to work.
Whether we are full-time employees or not, we are still mothers at the heart of it all.
We still clean up snotty noses, cuddle our babies when they wake up crying, delight over their milestones, despair over their tantrums, pack their bags, stock up on their diapers, sing and dance with them, kiss their wounds better, ensure that they have their jabs, prepare their favorite food, tell them we love them a million and one times.
It doesn’t mean that just because we are not with them in the day, we are failing them in any way.
Some of us make the choice to work. We choose to work because we enjoy our work. We enjoy the financial independence. We like to be intellectually stimulated in different ways. We are better mums because we work.
Some of us have to work. I need to support my retiree single mother, and I cannot bear to let my husband shoulder the financial burden of keeping both our family and my family afloat. Not all of us have the luxury of choosing to stay at home, some of us don’t have that fat paycheck as a cushion.
So, don’t judge. Don’t say stuff like “it’s better for the kids” to us. You don’t know us, you don’t know our kids. We have made our choice and we live it everyday, without complaints, without whining. We do the best that we can.
Be kind to us.