Every 4 years, I seem to get a bit disillusioned with my identity and my career. My first job lasted me 4 years, and then I took a break for 6 months, got a new job and then had my first kid, and stayed at home. It has been 4 years since then, trying to juggle different kinds of part-time jobs and looking after the kiddos. Since I've been in service industry jobs surrounded by many people, this job of staying at home to care for the kiddos has not been a smooth transition. You work alone most of the time, there's no chit chat session over lunch with colleagues and no online chatting across the office department - it's just you and your kiddos, alone, for the whole day.
I must admit I am rather idealistic when it comes to parenting and staying at home. When everyone was establishing their careers, I got married. When peers started studying for a masters degree, I got pregnant and again (and still hoping for another). I attended my good friends' weddings as their bridesmaid with a belly or carrying a toddler. My friends were becoming managers, while I became a manager at home. The funny thing was that I was a stay-home couch potato and bed bum, not stay-home parent material. I didn't know how to cook, i.e. I didn't understand the concept of 'simmer'. I dislike doing housework, i.e. before the kids came, I only mopped the floor once a month. I was not baby friendly, i.e. I didn't even dare to carry a baby! It was a very steep learning curve. And so the question is why - why despite the prevailing market forces, societal trends and the thorns in my flesh...
1. Role Models
My own mother stayed home when I was borne. It meant a lot to me. Home cooked food and silly games like pingpong on the coffee table, against the wall and badminton in our driveway, bonded us as a family. My sister-in-law also stayed home and she gave me a good preview.
2. Simple Math
What happens to my career? Seeing how society is advancing, I'll probably retire at 70 years old. I'll probably not be working full time for about 10 years. So that's about 30 years of work left! That's about 3 times the amount I invest in my children. I decided that I'm in no rush in fulfilling my career goals because the children are growing up so fast!
3. Lifelong learning
In this day and age, I don't think anybody's degree can stay relevant for long. Lifelong learning is my aim. Compared to the past, there are so many things to learn and learning is so much more accessible now - free courses online, government subsidised courses. If a 60 year old person can get a degree, I can definitely learn something in my middle aged years.
4. Mental Health is Also Wealth
I've lived on both ends before, a relatively comfortable life and a life on the edge of poverty. Both ends have each share of tears and joy. I'm someone who doesn't manage stress at work well and I don't want to show my kiddos a black face everyday. I've learned to treasure and cherish the simple moments, and when there is peace, there is prosperity too.
5. Personal Conviction
With every decision made, it must come from a heart felt conviction. Whether or not a parent is staying at home, there are many voices out there confusing us. No point staying at home, if the days are constantly filled with nagging and screaming. My heart feels strongly for the home as a place of nurturing and bonding for the kiddos. And this is the season for my family and I.
Grace upon grace, let's continue to train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. I'm thankful for the many people who have been encouraging me in this journey, in giving me hope and support in this idealistic parenting view of mine. After 4 years, I'm looking forward to the next 4 years of being at home with my kiddos and new adventures together as a family.