Mar 15 2012
I began to work part-time this year. Theoretically, I have “stolen” 14 hours from the work week to devote to my kids’ playtime and mealtimes. But the truth is, my list of responsibilities in the office is not shorter while my motherhood list is getting longer.
This is something new that I am doing: Work “less,” mother more. Pretty challenging, I would say. My past experience as a stay-at-home mum hasn’t helped much. Back then there was only one child. I have two now, and the only thing I’m armed with is numbness to hectic-ness.
My new tasks include dragging my P1 child from slumber-land at 6.30AM. It has been 10 weeks of school altogether, 10 weeks of racing with the rising sun. I never thought it would be so difficult to awaken her without spoiling her mood and mine. She hates to fight against the sleep devil. Who doesn’t?
It gets more daunting in the morning sometimes when I think we are ready to leave the house and the girl shrieks, “Mummy, I haven’t finished my homework!”
If our morning episodes are fun, the second part of my day is pretty exciting too. Work tends to overrun by an hour or so beyond my official working hours. When I think it’s over, more things come up. At the same time, I’ve discovered that my work computer isn’t any faster than computers from 10 years ago. My brain works faster. It is extremely nerve-wracking waiting for Powerpoint slides to be saved or opened, knowing I am still in the office and my girls are waiting for me. I dash out from the office to the bus stop to the train station to home to cook dinner for four by 5PM. Then I pick up the girls and we bid the babysitter goodbye and swing by the playground. Dinner is served at 7.
The excitement continues after dinner when I sit down with Jiejie to study hanyu pinyin, addition, and subtraction and to remind her to concentrate. It kills me when she doesn’t listen to me and repeatedly writes her “w” as “W,” or pens her name without her surname, or gets distracted from her Math book and starts peeling off stickers from her desk. Arrghh… Not to mention that my little “Bomber” is very curious and wants to scribble on her Jiejie’s book.
Shrieking and whining are now “music” to my ears. It is a great relief to me that the daddy helps out here and there, doing the laundry, washing dishes, or attending to one of the girls. I call it a day when the bedtime story is done. Usually I doze off before the kids do.
It is exhaustion day after day, in exchange for hearing them call me “Mummy” more. There are moments where I’ve almost burst into tears, and moments where I felt defeated and couldn’t do anything except give in to meltdowns.
But when I see the girls home before sunset, cozily on the sofa with a book or a bottle of milk while waiting for dinner to be served, it reminds me of why I want to do this.
* I like my job. I learn new things constantly, my boss is understanding, and my colleagues are great people. They told me the reality is that kids grow up eventually, hence work is essential. It’s disturbing for them to see me take a pay cut just to gain a bit more time with the girls. However, I do make them envious when I leave the office early every day.