Thursday, 19 April 2012

Days I feel really bad being a working mum

Yes we have worked out a good arrangement when I went back to work after 3 months of maternity leave. We have found her an experienced and loving nanny who looks after her needs and follows her routine. We divide the morning routine so both of us can attend to Kah Yen and at the same time goes to work on time. We are able to pick Kah Yen up on time most of the days. She goes to bed right after 8pm and her evening routine works nearly perfect. We are fine with packing dinner everyday – it is convenient and cheap. But, there are days I feel really bad being a working mum.

Yesterday was one of those days.

I left work on time at 730am, reached the shuttle bus pick-up point at 8am, only to find a queue that it is so long I can’t find where it ends. The bus was late again. I managed to squeeze in the 3rd bus without a seat at 830am and only reached office at 9am. I was half an hour late for work.

I need to call a kick-off meeting with various departments for a new project that is coming in. After making several calls to different people the only time that is suitable is 4pm. There are people coming in late, and the meeting turned into a discussion at some point and it only ended at 6pm. Rushed to the bus stop, called the husband to hurry up to pick up Kah Yen, I finally got on the bus only to reach home at 720pm thanks to traffic jam. That’s almost an hour late than usual. I couldn’t spend anytime with Kah Yen except changing her and putting her to bed after rushing my dinner.

Thankfully the husband knocked off early so he brought her to the playground, made me feel slightly better. However, I was so shocked to find there are 2 minor bruises on Kah Yen’s face and the big one is right below her left eye. Our nanny said she fell and knocked on the edge of a chair. My heart felt so painful. I looked at our little angel without her angelic smile. I knew accident is unavoidable but I blamed this on me for not being with her.

By the end of the day I felt really bad.

I spend almost 3 hours on the road everyday when I only spend less than 2 hours with my daughter. I could have done so many more things with her using those 3 hours! I left her for 11 hours a day to a job that I am not even satisfied with, but I need the income. There are days my work is so busy and hectic that I totally forget about her, I am not even missing her. I read so much on baby nutrition and recipes but I am not even there to cook her meals, our Nanny only knows how to cook rice porridge. And I do hope my husband can come back to home cooked dinner.

I felt awfully guilty. Maybe I should really start looking for another job that is nearer to my place, although I dread the job hunting and interview process. Maybe I should talk to my HR about a flexible work arrangement, instead of telling myself it is not possible in Singapore context. Maybe I should come out with a rigid meal planner and force my nanny to follow it. Maybe I should just do the sums and see if we can survive with one less income… Maybe I should start telling myself "It is possible”.

But for now, I know what I should really tell myself is "I am not a superwoman".


  1. You are very wise to remind yourself that you are not superwoman. I've read several of your posts and it sounds like you are a great mother. At the same time, you also need to earn money and build your career, for the sake of your own future and your daughter's, and you are wise to keep that in mind.

    My advice (now that my children are 6 and 3 and I have a different perspective) is this: it's easier to keep working hard while she is still very small. You will miss her very much, but she will not even remember this time in her life. It will get harder to leave her when she gets big enough to talk to you about her feelings - when she is 3 or 4. It will get even harder if you decide to have a second child.

    I remember the time when I felt exactly as you did. I was working as a lawyer in Tokyo, and I regularly worked such long days that I got home after my daughter's bedtime. I missed her so very much. On the other hand, when work was busy and I was preoccupied in my workplace, I often forgot I was a parent. I have heard many mums admit to this, so I guess it is very normal!

    When my older daughter was 4.5 and my younger one was 1, we relocated and I took a career break. I'm very glad I did. I was finding it harder and harder to be away from my children. I have been lucky enough to have two years at home with them. Now I am looking at ways I could re-enter the workforce with less demanding workdays. I would like to try to find some balance. At the same time, I'm glad I put in those hard years when my first daughter was small, because it gave me valuable work experience and helped our family financially.

    Hang in there, and listen to your heart. Only you know what is best for you and your family.

  2. Hi Katriina, thanks for dropping by my blog. Thanks for your sharing of your personal journey as new mother and also a career woman. After almost one and a half years, I am slowly used to the role of a working mum, although still with awful guilt on some days. Like you, I may also take a 2-3 year break when we have the second one, hopefully financially we can afford then. Meantime before that happens I am staying put in my current job and also preparing myself for a career switch later.

    I have read your first few posts, I knew how hard it had been for you as a mother when you were in Japan and when you first moved to Finland, happy for you that now you got to spend lots of time with your daughters. I am sure you will find a good job when you decided to re-enter the workforce.