I had started my new job in October this year.
I got accepted in a totally new arena and was never so happy in my whole career life to finally do something I like. I was even mentally prepared to do my best and work late because I am determined to excel in my work.

Then work started, and all my predictions came true.

It is a challenging job. It is a work late job. I work more than 10 hours most days, sometimes 12 hours. I resist bringing work home so far. And work began to eat into my time with my kids and family. When I said I was determined to put in effort and time, I really did. I employed a domestic helper (finally!) so that I can concentrate on spending time with my children after I get home from work and have the sanity to handle the pressure at work.

With lesser time with the family and great work stress, I find myself getting tired easily and lesser patience with the children who yearn ever more attention from me. I feel my guilt surfacing almost everyday whenever I lose my cool, and make the kids upset. Such a situation leaves me a total wreck and more guilty and the vicious cycle repeats. There are a few times a thought of regret leaving my cushion job (not high pay though) haunts me and that made me feel worse. Maybe a woman is suited to stay at home, or otherwise not be too career focused. My girl starts to ask me why I had to change my job. The feeling hurts.

This morning, my baby wanted me to sit beside him while he ate his puffs. He knew I was about to leave for work and insisted that I stayed with him longer. I was running late but I obliged and stayed with him for another 10 seconds, what seemed like 10 minutes. Then, I stood up, kissed him and told him Mummy had to leave for work. He then sat still, eyes glued to the Baby TV which I had switched on for him on purpose, and did not turn around to see me leave. Just before I left the house, I stood at the door telling him all the sweet nothings about how much I love him and saying goodbye to a back facing baby. All this while, he did not turn around. After a few seconds later when I was walking towards the lift, I heard him let out a loud wail and started crying “Papa! Papa! Papa!” to his sleeping dad. My heart flew to him literally but I stood rooted to the ground. I knew if I had gone back to him, it would be worse for him and me to experience the separation twice.

I felt so cruel to leave for work when my role as a mummy should be to be with my baby all the time when he needs me. I think mothers like me should not work.

Human beings are like this: when they feel they are not spending enough time with their loved ones, they start to compensate in other means like showering with material gifts hoping to soothe their guilt. I find myself spending more to compensate the lesser time spent with the children.

The other day, I bought a Lego Chima which cost $75 without much thought, for my son. I almost never buy such expensive toys for the kids ever. So, when Kel asked me what was the occasion that I was buying the Lego toys for the kids, I could not really answer.

The time when I started my new job, was almost the same time that my kids were having examinations. My son, in P1, came home with flying colours partly because P1 is relatively easy to ace since what they learnt in school are mainly revisions from pre-schools. But my girl’s results fell. She was upset even though she did not mention much. I know she was and still is. She was concerned on what I thought of it. I did not scold, nor express much disappointment. All I said was,”This is not an acceptable result but Mummy will work together with you to overcome this subject.” In fact, I think I was more upset than her deep down. All because I should have seen this coming and spend more time with her on academic revisions. While many parents start as early as P1 in early involvement in their kids’ academics, I think I might be too laid back. I blamed myself, again, for not spending more time with her and felt responsible for her results.

But I am not going to send her to tuition, not yet.

I made a pact with her that Mummy and she are in this together. So, starting December, she had been a good student at home in doing her P3 Math assessment book right from the start in the day time. During the night or early morning, I mark her assessment and for some nights and during the weekends, we sit down together to go through what she did wrong and ensures she gets it right. I am quite confident as long as she cooperates her revision with me, she will get it right this time round. It is important that she gets her fundamentals right in P3 before going to P4 which builds on earlier foundation and is certainly going to get harder. For this, my girl gets full marks in her attitude in learning and that is more important to me.

The middle child often gets neglected.

Especially, when he does not need revision time with me nor demand more time than the baby does. Poor YH. He gets easily neglected when he is easy-going, does not have much disciplinary problems, nor academic problems for the time being. Then, when he starts to act out, I put blame on myself again. Neglect in children always yield the same thing: disciplinary problems or weird behaviour. So far, YH does not pose much problems to me but I had better pay more attention to him before anything small goes unnoticed and bigger problems manifest later on.

I made a secret promise to myself that I must have a one on one time with each of the elder 2 kids during this school holidays. In fact, today I arranged for a Universal Studio treat for the kiddos sometime this week and hastily applied a one day leave from work.

Afterall, to a mother, nothing is more important than time spent with her children. Anytime for you, kids. I must remind myself that. Including sitting down with my baby to finish his puffs even though I would be running extremely late for work.

Are you a working mum? Do you feel guilty to leave for work while your baby clings onto your legs? Do you compensate in any ways to soothe any guilt due to lesser time spent with the kids? I hope you can share with me to tell me that I am not alone…